Short of hiring a full-time PR/social media staffer to flog your brand online, how can you make your voice heard above the cacaphony of keywords, catch phrases and ‘greatest company ever’ verbiage? Traditional marketing/PR strategies and techniques don’t mesh with today’s lightning-fast world; ‘relationship marketing’ and ‘social selling’ are the new touchstones.
Here are 10 tips I have found useful for my small business clients; by no means are they a comprehensive list, but they offer a starting point for shaping your PR and Social Media marketing strategy.
- Own your name: If at all possible, buy the domain name ‘www.yourname.com’ or ‘yourname.me’, and forward the domain to the URL of your business. Some contacts who’ve heard you speak or read an article may not remember the business name and will search for you on Google. Unfortunately I have a common name, and it took me 2 years of constant watching to obtain “KathleenLyons.com”. But I own it now!
- Ensure that you are ‘findable’ in online directories and on the major social media platforms. Submitting your site to dmoz.com is still a good idea, but creating a Google+ account is now the #1 must-do activity to increase your visibility. Here’s how to set up your Google+ account. The next important step is to link your Google+ account to your web content using “rel=author” and “rel=publisher”.
- Choose the Social Media vehicles that will be most productive for your business : LinkedIn is a great outlet for those engaged in business-to-business sales; Pinterest is visually-oriented and can increase sales for artists, craftspeople and travel consultants.
- Set up a posting schedule for your chosen Social Media outlets; then make posting a priority each week. Cross-pollinate by auto-linking your media posts to your other accounts.
- Make sure each blog post you write has a ‘share’ feature that enables readers to immediately disseminate your information. Also solicit comments from readers whenever possible.
- Monitor activity about your brand, using Google Alerts, Google Analytics or other professional monitoring applications. If you find you’ve been featured or mentioned on TV, radio, a blog or other media outlet, post about it in your Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other accounts.
- Have a Media Kit available on your website. When you receive a press inquiry, direct the journalist or press aide to your Media Kit for company background information, your resume, professional headshot and other publicity photos.
- Build your own media contact list, then work it. Local radio and TV stations and newspapers who’ve moved online are a good bet for your news release email list, as are paid PR distribution services. If your budget is tight, free online PR services offer a low-risk way to get started issuing news releases; I’ve seen them help with SEO for many small business operators.
“The old is new again”: you might find that showing up at editorial desks to personally deliver a news release can benefit your business. Since the usual delivery mode is now email, newsrooms don’t get much walk-in traffic. A personal connection may resonate with office personnel, who will remember your face and friendly conversational tone next time you drop by.
- Learn the art of writing an effective news release – it’s no longer only the domain of PR professionals. And, when sending out a news release via email, don’t even think about attaching it as a PDF. Journalists and editors won’t be opening your attachments anytime soon….just include the news release in the body of your email. Another no-no: calling to ask if Oprah got your email.
- Create an ebook, PDF report, or other digital product, then send out a news release to publicize it: New York real estate genius Barbara Corcoran has some great advice about this tactic.