Online PR concept / Fotolia.com (© artinspiring)
Online PR concept / Fotolia.com (© artinspiring)

Online public relations are a form of PR that takes place on the internet or through social media channels. Normally, online PR goes hand-in-hand with whatever type of public relations a company is doing non-digitally, but there are more and more companies these days that are specializing their online public relations, giving them their own departments and hiring people that are experts in social media, search engine optimization and online reputation management to run those departments.

That's because online PR Works differently than other types of PR. The two are similar in a few ways as well. For example, both online PR and traditional PR are about influencing people and presenting a company in the best light possible. In traditional PR, this often involves magazine and newspaper articles, and the people behind them, and this can be helpful if the company finds itself in a compromising position.

Online PR works pretty much the same except you're dealing with totally different things. Instead of influencing magazines and newspapers, and forging relationships with big names and media corporations, online PR reps are tasked with dealing with blogs, social media, forums and comments on company videos or websites. In addition, PR reps need to build relationships with the large online-only media organizations that are out there now. Eventually, the role of the traditional PR person is going to be obsolete, because there are not going to be any physical newspapers or magazines; everything is going to be online. Let's discuss the kinds of people or organizations that online PR representatives are going to be focusing on.

Sources for Online PR

Newspaper and magazine columns: Just because a PR rep is mostly working online, it does not mean that they are going to cut ties with regular media. While online PR reps mostly focused on the online aspect of major media, those same relationships still need to be built.

Personal blogs: People read blogs. There is no question that working with writers of personal blogs can help your company’s reputation. You just have to know which ones to pick. What you are looking for, when it comes to personal blogs, are influencers that will actually change people's mind or give promo juice to a company because they endorsed it or mentioned it on their blog.

Professional blogs: In addition, online PR reps are going to want to spend the majority of the time they devote to blogs to those that are more professional in nature. Obviously, the company blog is a good place to start. Releasing a company blog and turning your corporation from an organization into a group of actual people is a good way to boost reputation and the blog is a great way to do that.

Online directories: It is a good idea for companies to make sure that they are listed in major directories, on lists of similar companies and part of professional organizations that will build their reputation.

Events: Attending online and offline events that are related to online PR can have an impact on the way your customers see you, as well as the General Public. If your company has a presence at events, professional exhibitions and even informal gatherings that are related to your brand, you can do a lot of good.

Awards: In order for a company to win an award, they need to first be in the running. What this means is, for some awards and professional recognitions, you have to make sure that your name is on the right sheet of paper, or in the case of online PR, on the right website. Awards may be given out only to companies that register with the organization that is giving the awards, for example. The more professional awards and recognition that you can list, the better your company's reputation will be. Plus, it provides a huge marketing opportunity.

Twitter: Twitter is listed separately from the other social media out there, because it is the most important PR tool that an online PR representative has. Not only do customers use Twitter more often to send direct messages to the company about a complaint they have, they also pay more attention to the company's Twitter feed than any other social media site. Making sure that you are doing online PR with Twitter; it is vital to your company success.

The rest of social media: you definitely want to leverage the rest of social media as well as Twitter. Facebook is the most important but you should be maintaining several social media sites including Instagram.

Web searches: Finally, make sure that you are doing internet marketing as well. Internet marketing definitely has a place with online PR, because the people that are searching the internet are going to come across the information about your company, and if you can control that information, then you control your company's reputation and image.

Statistic: Estimated aggregate revenue of U.S. public relations agencies* from 2000 to 2015 (in billion U.S. dollars) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

4 Top Ways Customers Learn About Products and Services

Now, let’s talk about some specific ways that most companies reach new customers and help them learn about their products or services. The most prevalent is online advertising. There are 4 powerful ways:

1. Any online PR campaign should include online advertising, whether that is

This is paid advertising and is different than social media or blogging.

2. The second most prevalent is search engine optimization. In other words, companies that can get their website to the top of the list for buying keywords are going to make more money. You do this through on-page and off-page optimization, keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of the search engines.

Third many companies produce online content specifically to reach new customers. This might be video content, it might be social media content, or could be anything that will reach the customers in your demographic.

3. Social media is also used by others to share products or services. In fact, Word of Mouth and sharing on social media are two of the best ways to get long-term customers, because your products and services were recommended by a friend or someone the person respects. Obviously, you want to target influencers, but any time that your products and services are shared on social media is good for your company.

4. Companies should also encourage customers to leave reviews about their product services. If someone is shopping online and comes across your products, not having any reviews on them might actually be harmful. If you know what customers are saying, then you can respond and fix problems and hopefully improve overall reviews. In addition, people are just not comfortable buying anything these days without first checking the reviews on it.

Even for the online PR representative, they're still may be work to do outside of the internet. Getting your company featured in real-world magazines and newspapers still important. Well this is not nearly as high up on the priority list as the items listed above, it is still important. still can help your company scroll. In addition, offline advertising and a few other things that you can do without the internet may be necessary to help your company succeed.

The bottom line here is the world of public relations is changing. Online PR is just as important, if not more, then regular traditional public relations. But you definitely should know what that landscaping entails, and all the things that you will have to do as a social media PR representative. The good news is, it is considerably easier to do many of these online things than it is to get your client featured in real-world magazines and newspapers, or do some of the things that traditional PR reps have to do.


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