The Dos and Don’ts of Online PR

    By Sujan Patel | Small Business

    The times are changing for online PR. If you’re still using 2008’s strategies, you’re missing out on potentially powerful opportunities in this new marketplace.

    To be sure your skills are up to snuff, check out the following do’s and don’ts for proper online PR:

    DO: Use the “rel=nofollow” tag in your PR links

    In the past, disseminating press releases via online networks was a go-to SEO strategy for many companies. Unfortunately, Google eventually caught on to the practice and listed it as a known link scheme that may be penalized under the search engine’s Webmaster Guidelines.

    But while you don’t need to skip online press releases entirely, you do need to be sure that the links you include have the “rel=nofollow tag attached. Doing so tells the wire service or directory publishing your release not to send any link juice to your site, eliminating any reason for Google to apply link scheme penalties.

    DON’T: Rely entirely on newswire services

    Wire services are important, but if they’re all you’re doing you’re not going to get very far, given that most of the people receiving these subscriptions may be overwhelmed or not interested in the first place!

    Even if you decide to start with a service like PRWeb or PRNewswire, pair that with an individualized campaign that targets the news and media sources most likely to be interested in your announcement. Reach out to these people via email, social media or any other channel that’ll let you get your message to the places that matter most.

    DO: Make sure your news is actually newsworthy

    Whether you target media sources directly or send out your press releases via a wire service, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of only blasting out newsworthy updates. The people you’re reaching out to see dozens, hundreds or even thousands of press releases a day. The fact that you’ve released a new minor feature to your app or been featured in your hometown’s newspaper likely won’t be enough to catch their attention.

    What kinds of things constitute “newsworthy”? To some extent, that’ll depend on your industry and your audience. For example, breaking news in the tech community looks very different than the funeral industry. The best way to tell is to look at the headlines running on the sources where you want to feature your own press announcement. If the scope of these stories dramatically exceeds your own news, wait until you’ve got something truly great to share.

    DON’T: Be boring

    By their nature, press releases should be exciting, engaging and attention-grabbing. So why are so many of them written as if the authors wish they were doing anything else?

    Instead of trying to hammer this point home with explanation, I’m going to leave you with an example from a recent T-Mobile press release. As you’ll see from the opening paragraph quoted below, it’s possible to have fun with your releases – no matter who you are or what you do:

    “T-Mobile US, Inc. (NYSE: TMUS) today announced that pretty much everyone at the company is overcome with emotion and still kind of processing the decision by now-ex-rival AT&T to leave the dark side, step into the light, and join hands in supporting the Un-carrier consumer revolution.”

    DO: Turn your site into a media destination

    Let’s assume you write a great press release that leads interested media sources back to your website for more information. What happens when they get there?

    Before launching any major media campaign, give your site a critical once-over to determine whether members of the press will be able to quickly and easily access the information they need to promote your company. Create a corporate media kit or set up a designated area on your website for press releases, contact details and other key pieces of information. The more you can help these professionals out, the more publicity they’re likely to give you.

    Are there any other tips you’d add to this list?  Share your own experiences and recommendations in the comments section below!

    Sujan Patel is a passionate internet marketer and entrepreneur. Sujan has over 10 years of internet marketing experience and started the digital marketing agency Single Grain. Currently Sujan is the CMO at Bridge U.S., a company that makes the complex immigration process easy and affordable.

    The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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