In few professions has the emergence of social media been such a double-edged sword as public relations. On one hand, the “citizen journalism,” blogging, and content-sharing platforms for all types of media have fundamentally altered the traditional print-based business model of professional and trade publications. Information scarcity has been replace by information overload.
There are fewer professional reporters and editors, and they inundated with more noise: it’s estimated there are now four PR professionals for every full-time journalist in the U.S..
On the other, given their skills in relationship-building and content development, PR professionals (should at least) have a natural knack for social media success. And recent changes to Google’s search algorithm which place a premium value on earned links—the kind generated by effective PR and social media engagement—have increased the value PR professionals bring to maximizing overall brand visibility.
How can PR pros best utilize content in this environment? Is there still a role for press releases? If so, how should they be written and distributed to maximize their impact with a shrinking number of over-pitched journalists? How can PR pros use social media tools to identify and connect with key influencers? What do PR pros need to know about SEO?
Find the answers to these questions and many others in more than two dozen of the best guides to social PR practices of the past year.
Guides to PR Content and Press Releases
How to use contributed content to even the playing field by iMedia Connection
Pointing out that “The size of the author’s company doesn’t sway an editor’s decision to publish an article — it has to be well written, polished, and highly relevant to the publication’s readers to stand a chance,” Maya Szydlowski details best practices for pitching and getting externally produced content published on high-authority news sites.
6 ways content marketing has changed the way we do PR by The Next Web
Shannon Byrne outlines half a dozen “ways content marketing has changed the way we ‘do PR,’” among them: everyone is now a content contributor (“As long as your content is high-quality and not overly promotional, publications will often consider well-written, fresh content with open arms”); publications want to publish thought leaders; and “syndication + guests posts are great alternatives to earned media.”
The 10 Commandments of Press Release Writing by PR Breakfast Club
Mickie Kennedy hands down ten commandments for writing effective press releases, beginning with “Thou shalt have a relevant topic” and “Thou shalt be truthful” and progressing through “Thou shalt proofread” (“Read it. Read it again. Go through every sentence and whittle them down until they’re iron tight. Check your grammar. Check it again.”)
How Content Promotion Lands the #PR Story for @LarryKim…Everytime! by Social PR Chat
Frequent best-of honoree Lisa Buyer summarizes the high points of a presentation by WordStream CEO Larry Kim. Among them: “use social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to pitch directly to media and influencers”; include visual assets (such as infographics) in your content to increase sharing; optimize titles, meta details and image names for SEO; and extend the value of content through repurposing and syndication.
9 Timeless PR Positioning Strategies by Sword and the Script
Ever notice how many companies are “leaders” in their respective markets, according to their own press releases? Noting that “Positioning as a ‘leader’ is generally a difficult proposition because every company claims to be a leaders; if everyone is a leader, then leadership as point of differentiation has lost its luster,” Frank Strong suggests nine alternative positioning strategies that are less shopworn and more defensible.
To help PR pros craft better, more effective news releases, Robert Wynne here compiles “unfiltered, honest, sometimes brutal yet always helpful, responses from some of the top journalists at publications including The Atlantic, Los Angeles Times, Mashable, Popular Science, Tech Crunch and Yahoo!.”
Public Relations & Social Media Insight by Scoop.it
As Monty Python used to say, “and now for something completely different“: this Scoop.it curation from Jeff Domansky is a fantastic resource for the latest articles, blog posts, infographics and other content related to the intersection of PR and social media. The content changes frequently so it’s worthwhile checking in here often.
3 Free PR Photo Hacks by Sword and the Script
Writing that “The research on the impact of visuals in press releases, blog posts and even tweets is nearly unanimous: Images drive interest and that interests lasts longer,” Frank Strong (again) passes along his three favorite free, quick, and relatively easy methods for finding or creating images to supplement text content.
Quantifying the importance of building a rich online newsroom, Lisa Buyer (again) writes that “More than half of the journalists surveyed visit an online brand newsroom at least once a week, with 25.2% of them visiting newsrooms daily. And lest you think online brand newsrooms appeal only to traditional journalists, they are also being accessed by bloggers, tweeters, customers, potential investors, anyone who is interested in your company.” She then provides eight helpful tips for optimizing an online newsroom, including knowing your brand’s audience and using a team approach.
Guides to PR and Influencer Research
8 Powerful Influencer Research Tools That Get Results by Blogging Wizard
Adam Connell reviews eight helpful tools to help identify the key influencers on any topic, including NOD3x (powerful though not cheap at $160 per month), BuzzSomo (only covers Twitter, but free), and Authority Spy (an inexpensive tool that works with Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Klout).
Adam Heitzman details a five-step plan to use “social influencers to build your brand,” starting out with spending time to find the right influencers (for which the post above may be helpful) and progressing through always paying it forward (“If a social influencer is writing great things about your company, do the same. Commenting and engaging with a social influencer’s content is great, but take it one step further by actually promoting it on your own social pages”).
Shawn Hewat shares her “top 4 tips to start building an ideal list of influencers” for outreach efforts, ranging from power searches on Google to investigating blog rolls (still a solid resource on older blogs, though sadly not used or maintained as regularly today as in the past).
Guides to PR and Social Media
The State of Social Media for PR Pros by Cision
Gina Joseph reports on findings from Cision’s State of Social Media for PR Pros survey, such as: Facebook (used by 88% of respondents) and Twitter (85%) remain the most popular social sharing platforms for PR pros and their clients. But only 44% use any type of paid content promotion on social networks. And “less than half of our survey respondents have successfully pitched a journalist or outlet via social…traditional methods such as using a media database to target specific beats remains ever-important.”
Infographic: State of the Media 2014 by leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal
Jim Dougherty presents an infographic from Vocus illustrating how journalists view social media. Among other findings: about half of journalists use social media to connect with viewers and readers, and to promote their stories; but 95% don’t believe social media is completely trustworthy, and 91% still prefer to be pitched by email.
Guides to PR and Guest Posting
7 Simple Ways of Maximizing Value from Guest Posting by Razor Social
Frequent best-of honoree Ian Cleary suggests seven “ways to maximize the value of guest posting” (and stay out of trouble with Google), ranging from posting on highly authoritative sites within your market or industry niche (“Google likes to see that you hang out with good company”) to writing great, detailed content (the top results in Google often have more than 2,000 words).
Google Beats a War Path for Guest Posts; PR Needs to Listen by Sword and the Script
Responding to comments made by Matt Cutts about guest blogging and Google’s subsequent actions against using the practice merely for link building, Frank Strong (yet again) advises PR pros on how to use guest blogging and backlinks in ways “that will help keep PR out of the Google penalty box.”
Guides to PR and SEO
Press Release Rankings: Slammed by the Panda? by SEER Interactive
While it would be an overstatement to say that (legitimate) press releases no longer have any SEO value, Google algorithm modifications clearly changed the landscape last year. This post quantifies the result of changes for sites like PRWeb.com and Businesswire.com, but also notes more positively that “the days of the press release for legitimate reasons, earnings reports, technology innovations, acquisitions, etc, are still very alive & well.”
Promising information that “will make you an expert on everything you need to know about SEO in Public Relations without any headache and avoiding all slang,” Adelina Peltea concisely covers the basics of backlink analysis, keyword research, how Google treats links in press releases, and more.
Why PR Pros Will Now Dominate SEO by Cision
Kevin Bailey believes PR pros are well-positioned to help with SEO in the post-Penguin era, writing: “The (links) that really move the needle come from the established media outlets that cite them all over the web—the industry media outlets with large engaged audiences and domain authorities in the high 90s…PR pros have a huge leg up in terms of earning the hard links. They have the ability to reach top media outlets and get content assets covered—content assets that are more about solving a large problem in a given industry than they are about touting a brand and its products.” True, which is why PR and SEO are two key components of a broader web presence optimization strategy.
Guides to Journalist Pitching, Media Relations, and Blogger Outreach
How to Contact the Media: 12 Email Tips That Also Boost Email Marketing by bridgebuzz blog
Noting that “an email has to be really compelling to avoid the delete key. Journalists get more email than most of us: some journalists receive over a hundred email pitches a day from PR people…to stand out among such intense competition and get opened, an email pitch has to be just about perfect,” Lucy Siegel provides a dozen suggestions for effective email pitches to journalists (and writes that most are just as valid as email marketing tips). For example: “Brevity Is Key to Getting Read. After the lede, get to the point right away by covering the basics: who, what, when, where, why and how. Don’t sell, tell.”
Be Memorable: 10 Practical Ways to Successfully Get Influencers’ Attention by Traffic Generation Cafe
Ana Hoffman details 10 ways to get the attention of influential bloggers, journalists or other influencers in your industry, from linking out “shamelessly and unceasingly” to their content, to writing weekly roundups (with some value-added content–not just a collection of links), to quoting them (with detailed instructions on how to do this effectively).
A PR pro’s 10-point media relations checklist by ragan.com
Austin Cross entertainingly shares his “10 commandments of pitching” to the media, from research and personalization (“Not only does the ‘spray and pray’ method require no skill or effort, but it is also arguably the least effective way to pitch”) to scrapping the call script and talking to journalists as if they are real people. (Most of them are.)
Blogger Outreach: Persistence is Fertile by FeedBlitz
Observing that “It’s not uncommon for someone at a loud bar not to hear you the first time, or even twice. If you assume someone isn’t interested in getting to know you better just because they don’t hear you the first or second time, then you’re doomed. The Internet is the busiest, loudest, most distracting place ever created,” Chris Abraham outlines the three characteristics needed to “score the digits in content marketing.”
6 Ways to Pitch Journalists on Social Media by Social Media Today
Jesse Wynants provides half a dozen helpful tips for reaching journalists. For starters, build relationships first: “If you want journalists to pay attention to your brand, you need to build a mutually beneficial relationship long before you ever reach out with a pitch.”
Getting Positive Results From Blogger Outreach Is Difficult, Or Is It? by Tweak Your Biz
Adam Connell (again) offers nine tips for crafting “the perfect outreach email” for bloggers, starting with keeping it relevant (“take the time to check out the blog that you’re contacting”) and proceeding through keeping the pitch short and reaching out on social media before sending an email.
Guides to PR for Startups
PR Tips & Strategies for Startups by Social Entrepreneur Blog
Mark Harai shares a presentation focused on PR tips for startups, organized into six sections: foundation (make friends, not contacts), research, perfecting the pitch (positioning statements, personalization, answering “what’s in it for them,” keeping it concise, newsjacking basics), media outreach, measuring success, and best practices.
Infographic: How To Get PR by Publicize
This infographic illustrates a seven-step process for obtaining media coverage for a start-up (or a new product), from creating your story and tying it into larger trends to offering exclusivity (offering an exclusive to the right outlets makes journalists “more likely to write about your story”) to promoting exclusive features.