How to use social media for PR

As a small business you may not have the budget to hire a PR agency. Although it cannot replace the value of face to face traditional PR communications, with the right approach, social media is a great low cost alternative way to generate PR.
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Because of the rapid rise in popularity of social media, today’s consumers have a much bigger and louder voice than ever before. User generated content is king. Think back 20 years ago when consumers were talked at by journalists and sold to by companies. Today there is an open dialogue between big brands and consumers. We are able to endorse products and promote brands; and share and contribute towards buzzworthy content. We have a direct line of communication with journalists and big business. This behaviour translates into low cost digital PR for small businesses and startups.
This blog provides 5 top tips on how to engage with journalists on social media to generate PR for your business.  Blogger outreach and influencer marketing will be covered in future posts.

Journalists use social media for a variety of reasons:

  • To source stories
  • For self promotion
  • For live tweeting
  • To find experts
  • To keep on top of industry news
  • To add to and collaborate on news stories

#1 Make your website and social media channels journalist friendly

Ensure you have active and fully populated social media profiles. This means having a clear about us/bio stating what you do. Journalists will use this to decide if you’re good enough to be a commentator or expert for their article. It’s also a good idea to have press page on your website. This makes life super easy for journalists to source content and read your credentials.

#2 Create great content

Maintain a regular blog that adds value and contribute towards other blogs. Creating value add content such as bespoke industry updates and expert tips are appealing to journalists who want to quote an industry source. Their article will link to your website which will help with SEO ranking through link building. Participating in forums is another way to gain visibility for your brand. If you’ve got something unique or interesting to say you will stand out from the crowd.

#3 Only connect and engage with journalists who write in your industry

It’s important to build a relationship with journalists first, before pitching your wares. Find out their likes and dislikes. You could start the conversation by tweeting that you really liked their article, or ask them their opinion on a topic, or offer an alternative point of view on a topical debate. Your success in generating media coverage will depend on how much value you provide to the journalist and whether they will use you as a contributor. Successfully generating PR on social media is all about relationship building. However, if you are not getting any response with this approach Muckrack is a useful marketing tool worth considering that allows you to connect directly with journalists in your industry.

#4 Actively respond to journalists’ requests

Respond to journalists requests on social media by providing content, opinion and case studies. If you are on Twitter it is worth following the hashtag #journorequest. It’s important to focus your pitch on what you can do for the journalist. Start the conversation with ‘I see you do…’, or ‘I know about…’. Ultimately ‘I can help you’ is what they will want to hear. You can also register with websites such as www.helpareporter.com or www.responsesource.com which connect businesses directly with journalists to share content.

#5 Capitalise on the existing news agenda by ‘Newsjacking’

Setting up Google alerts is an easy way to stay informed on relevant industry news and topical blogs. If you’re on Twitter, TweetDeck is a great social media management tool to help you stay in touch with what’s happening now. Your dashboard acts as a personalised browser to help you piggyback breaking news stories and gain visibility for your brand which would not otherwise be achievable. This type of piggybacking is known as ‘newsjacking’. If you spot something of interest then act quickly by jumping onto a trending or established hashtag. If you can create a bespoke blog post, offer a witty response or offer an expert opinion to a buzzworthy story you could generate a significant amount of PR for your business.

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