If you’ve been in business for more than a couple of decades, you remember how public relations used to work. You sent press releases to print publications and contacted their writers and editors, hoping that your announcements would be picked up and covered. You tried to build relationships with journalists at trade shows and conferences. You may have positioned yourself as an expert in your field, hoping to be quoted in articles.
You might be making some of those same efforts today, but the venues where you can get coverage have grown exponentially. Instead of a handful of print newspapers and magazines, you can now appeal to countless online publications. Social networks and email and blogs.
But as your opportunities for write-ups have grown more plentiful and inexpensive, your audience’s attention span has been shrinking because of all the noise. The Statistic Brain Research Institute now estimates that human beings have shorter attention spans than goldfish.
Quality and Focus
If you’re trying to get maximum exposure at minimal cost, the internet’s communication capabilities can make that happen. But try to focus on quality instead of quantity. It’s tempting to blast your news out to a huge but unfocused mailing list, just because you can. But especially if you’re on a tight budget, be prepared to spend more time than money on your public relations efforts. Consider these points:
Don’t expect to strike up friendships with journalists. They get pitches constantly, and they’re wary of too much chumminess. Be friendly, but genuine and professional.
Don’t go to your customer base and request reviews. It makes you look like you’re desperate for good feedback.
Don’t come on too strong with the influential individuals and websites in your market. Like journalists, “influencers” get hit up all the time for endorsements and other positive content. It’s a good idea to follow these entities, but only comment when you can add something substantial to a message thread. Answer questions and offer helpful suggestions, positioning yourself as a humble expert in your field. Your name and/or your company name will stick with some people.
Do sweat your titles and subject lines and opening paragraphs. Again, there’s that pesky attention span problem. If you don’t grab your readers’ attention quickly, they will move on. Spend more time on these little flashes of excellence than you do on any other content. Who are you targeting? What problems are you solving, and what benefits are you offering?
Do consider professional help if you simply can’t write clearly. There’s way too much drek being produced on the internet – sometimes, even by respected websites. Make yourself stand out with good, compelling composition. Google will give you extra points.
And remember that public relations is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll have bursts of PR tasks when, for example, a new product is announced, but try to keep your efforts going even during quieter times. Your long-term goal is to be recognized by people who can share your message to a larger audience.