SBM 093: How to do PR the right way with a small budget with Lexi Mills

Today’s Guest


In this episode you will learn about relationship marketing and how you can use it to transform your business.

Lexi Mills is an expert in integrating PR and SEO at both a strategic and tactical level. She has built two international award-winning PR, SEO, Social Media & content teams.

This is the 93rd session of Smart Brand Marketing.

MY BIGGEST TAKEAWAY:

Come up with ideas and evaluate by the following process:

What is quick, easy and impactful?

Sell story before it goes life to journalists.

Tell them this story goes on on a certain date. Follow up three times.

Send article under embargo before it goes live.

TOPICS DISCUSSED

  • SEO without restrictions and with restrictions
  • Integration of SEO and PR
  • Small vs large business tactics
  • Anchor content
  • What journalists link to?
  • How to get the attention of the media?
  • Who to reach out to first?
  • Local vs trade vs national campaigns
  • How to use a press release/media alert properly?
  • Media pages
  • Machine learning and AI potential in and out of search

Doing PR the Right Way

Believe it or not, public relations is something that not a lot of companies can get right at all instances. It’s either that they can’t generate enough buzz for the brand or hadn’t established the proper connections and channels to get their story across beforehand.

Here’s the thing, though: a good PR strategy can trump any well-funded advertising campaign any day. In fact, you can have a PR campaign at a quarter of the budget of your advertising campaign and still get more results than the latter That is, of course, if right first..

What Makes PR so Effective?

So, why should you bother with PR in the first place? After all, there is still a myriad of alternative tools that you can use to get your name across the market and generate enough buzz for your brand.

It’s advantage, however, can be summed up in one word: Credibility.

Here’s how it works. Regardless of how well you created it, an advertisement will be seen by audiences as just that, an advertisement. This means that they can see through any BS you might put in there and will tune you out especially if what the ad says in the ad can’t be observed in real life.

However, put that same marketing message in the context of something important like, say, a news report and people tend to believe it more than any ad. This is because mere mention of a product in a narrative-based content tends to act as a passive, subtle endorsement. In fact, people tend to listen to calls to action (CTAs) more if they are included in part of a PR content as opposed to a purely advertising one.

This means that, provided that you got the basics of PR right, your PR strategies can do more for you than any marketing scheme you can think of.

How does PR work with SEO?

The thing about SEO and PR strategies is that, on their own, these two are already effective but the results they yield tend to be greater than the sum of their respective parts if used in tandem. There are a number of ways in which PR can help your SEO efforts which include:

  • 1. Links

    Linking remains a highly important factor in Google’s search bots when ranking websites. The problem here is that getting good links nowadays is becoming increasingly difficult especially if you don’t know where to look for them.

    With PR, however, you can get your content linked to some really influential websites which can lead to better traffic for your web pages. For instance, mere mentions at news articles posted in sites like the Huffington Post or entrepreneur can result in better ranking for your business at the results page.

  • 2. Brand Recognition

    How search engine bots factor in brand recognition tends to similar in the way we humans do it. They just simply scour the website for any mention of your brand/product/key personnel at a third party website. The more these get mentioned, the better your site’s rankings in the results page will be.

    It doesn’t even matter now if your business is relatively smaller than the biggest companies in the Internet right now. So as long as your business is mentioned roughly in the same breath as the biggest players in your industry and at the same article, then your pages should rank decently in the search engines.

  • 3. Reputation Management

    Quick, what do people do when they encounter a relatively unknown brand? If you answer “look for reviews of it”, then you’re correct. For instance, you own a restaurant which has garnered several reviews (good or bad) on sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor. Chances are that people tend to have refer to those reviews more when deciding to pay you a visit more than whatever your website says about you.

    The problem here, of course, is that people are fickle. There have even been instances of people review-bombing a certain business on 3rd party websites just because they don’t like the owner or as a joke “for the lulz”. Either way, a drop in your overall rating tends to lower your ranking in the SERPs.

    A well-crafted PR strategy, however, can alleviate most of the negative impact brought by user-generated reviews about the business. With enough mentions in news sites, your business’s rankings should remain at page 1 at best. Simply put, a PR campaign gives you better control on your online reputation without forcing people to really like you.

  • 4. Social Proof

    You are familiar with this concept through its more common version: bragging rights. Your business got mentioned by HuffPost, Times, and CNN? That should be announced at every channel your business currently has.

    The reason for this is simple. These publications are considered reliable sources so a mere mention at these sites tends to make your brand more trustworthy. Simply put, people will hesitate less about availing of whatever you offer if some authority mentions you in one of their pieces.

    Of course, that mention should be favorable to you or, better yet, properly interpreted. You’d rather not be that guy in Kickstarter who started hailing himself as a film-making genius just because some writer in Vice featured his project with the heading “Some Genius is Kickstarting a Breaking Bad Sequel Starring Val Kilmer and Slash” Anyone with a decent level of intelligence can smell the sarcasm on the “genius” part a mile away.

  • 5. Being Considered as an Authority

    Even if a journalist has done all their research regarding a topic, they also need a quote from an expert in order to get that extra oomph for their pieces. This is why they often ask local business owners their opinions on certain matters. If you can provide statistical figures, you may even better position yourself in the market as an expert while also helping the journalist complete their article.

    However, you must keep in mind that the information you offer is going to only help you if it captures the interest of readers. Provided that your opinion is quite attention getting and is backed up by hard data, then your being mentioned in the news should help improve your business’s rankings online.

Press Releases: How to use them Properly

Even if many experts are saying that the press release is going to be obsolete within a few years, it’s still a vital tool for any online marketer.However, it’s also one of the oft misused and misunderstood marketing tools out there. If you want to use your press releases properly, you have to understand that there are a few things that have changed with the process.

  • 1. PR and Search Engine

    First things first, there is now a clear delineation between promotional or news-related content and educational content in the SERPs. Sure, this means that viewers right now have the ability to tell whether this content is paid to promote you but on the other hand you have a way to monitor how your brand is performing in the market.

    You can tell that your PR strategies are working if the search engines show your press releases as news item first followed by your social media feeds, your LinkedIn page, your YouTube channel, and, of course, your website. This provides a strong presence for your business as well as a continuity of sorts with the content you put out there.

  • 2. StorytellingBy nature, press releases are there to tell a story. However, what a lot of companies fail to do is give continuity to their stories. Think of it this way: If, for example, the first part in Star Wars featured Luke Skywalker blowing up the Death Star but the next episode shows him older, missing a hand, and fighting Darth Vader which he refers to as his father (spoilers, by the way), you’d be thinking “what the hell happened in between?!”

    The same should be said with your press releases. Basically, they should give your readers a chance to get a glimpse on how your company has grown over the years. For instance, your earlier press release might cover you breaking into the market followed by it being named as one of fastest growing companies in the area. Then, a few years, later, your press releases would be how the company is fronting major trade events, sealing deals and partnerships with big-shots and major companies, and unveiling new product lines.

    If your press releases can tell a coherent story from the start to the most recent events in your company, you are giving the impression to readers and (hopefully) potential investors that you’ve got something potentially successful in your hands now and that it would be wise for them to invest in it. Without that coherence and continuity, your press releases would just sound generic.

  • 3. Frequency

    So how often should you send out a press release? Pacing is important for your press releases as you want to constantly capture the attention of your audience while keeping them interested for the next release.

    There is no exact formula as to how often you should put out a press release but make sure that the gap between your PRs do not span entire years. If, for example, you made a press release in August 2014, the next press release should not be in August 2015.

    Alternatively, you should not put out press releases every week. Google would probably mark that as spamming since companies tend to not have newsworthy stories to share every day. A good in-between pace, then, would be once every month or every quarter.

  • 4. Leverage

    Knowing when to make a press release also involves timing especially in major events. If possible, do it before a major event that you are going to take part in. Do it right and you might just get a lot of coverage for your business as well as for the area where the event is going to take place.

    Also, being mentioned in a news article as well as being quoted saying something about an event gives the impression to readers that your business has a considerable reach. This can lead to an increase of interest for your brand as well as traffic to your webpages through back links.

  • 5. PR and Content Marketing

    This goes without saying but your press release should be a part of your content marketing campaign the same way your blogs, articles, and social media posts are. This means that you have to include it as part of your content creation schedule. This way, your people can devote a portion of their time creating it as opposed to reshuffling their priorities as soon as your business needs to put out one.

    Also, this gives you and your content creation staff the opportunity to master the art of creating a press release with every PR you put out. Basically, not only are your press releases telling your readers how much your company has grown, it would also give your team the opportunity to look back and take note of how the quality of the content they’re putting out has developed. You might just be surprised at how your content back now compared to back then has changed not only with the topics being covered but also the tone and style.

In Conclusion

There’s without a doubt that PR can become demanding. Do it wrong and you face the prospect of wasting maybe not a lot of money but definitely a lot of effort. However, that is not to say that PR is difficult to master. All it requires for you is to keep in track with what works and always, always, keep your audience engaged.

What other challenges do you see in public relations? What strategies have you used to increase you brand’s reach in the market? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

RESOURCES

 

LEXI IN ACTION

THANK YOU FOR LISTENING!

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