There are more ways today than ever before to promote your products and services, and to present your company in the most positive light possible. Whereas in the past, media outlets were limited to news networks, magazines, and newspapers, today they’ve been expanded to include bloggers, podcasters, social media platforms, and celebrities who can influence the masses. These additional possibilities for promotion and public relations aren’t just extra opportunities either – they can be highly influential, and have tremendous reach because so many people follow them. Any number of surveys have confirmed the fact that social media followers are highly likely to purchase brands which they’ve been made aware of through social media.
However, using social media to its best advantage doesn’t mean saturating a given platform with your intended message, and in fact, this approach can be a big turn-off for users who resent the saturation. Finding just the right level of promotion may require a bit of trial-and-error, but when you hit on that ideal approach and maintain user interest, the results can be hugely advantageous for your company. With that in mind, here are 7 tips for achieving balanced public relations by using social media, blogging, and content marketing.
Do Guest Blogging Or Serve As A Contributor
Promoting your company as a guest blogger or contributor on a well-established blog or media outlet can be a great strategy because you’re using someone else’s built-in audience and you’ll be assured of reaching a large number of people very quickly. When you address an entirely different audience like this, it gives you the chance to acquire new followers of your own, many of whom may not have been previously accessible to you. As a guest blogger, you’ll also receive potentially beneficial backlinks to your site.
Publish LinkedIn Posts
Another way to reach a previously untapped audience would be to convince your company’s management to publish posts on LinkedIn, especially if yours is a B2B company. The latest and greatest publishing mechanism from LinkedIn makes it easier than ever, and having a personal message issued by leadership will have the effect of humanizing your company, and generating more personal interest.
Make Use Of Influencer Marketing
This is one of the most effective ways of promoting your products or services, and all it will cost you is some free product, which you would provide in exchange for a sincere and positive promotion. Bloggers, celebrities, and other social media figures with their own followers can influence huge numbers of people to try your product through their favorable endorsements. The person you choose doesn’t even have to be a high-profile celebrity – it can be someone who merely has a modest following. But when you enlist the aid of several such personalities, you end up with a pretty respectable total audience.
Here is a prime example of influencer marketing - Old Navy partnered with social media influencer Meghan Rienks to appear in a series of promotional posts on social media, such as this one:
Commit Resources To An Ambassador Program
Think of an ambassador program as a more high-powered version of influencer marketing, except that the ambassadors used by your company have all been thoroughly vetted and selected for their willingness to promote your company and/or its products and services. Investing in an ambassador program can reap ongoing benefits once you’ve got several influential personalities involved, and like influencer marketing, it will only cost you some company perks, free products, and in some cases, cash. Ambassadors can talk up your products at numerous events which you may not have access to, and can effectively keep your brand in the eyes of the public.
Network With Journalists
Networking with journalists can be a great way to get your company name and products before the masses, but it does require that you be careful in your selection. Any journalists you choose to work with should be professionals whose interests are at least somewhat aligned with your company interests, and whose writing topics are a good fit with your company philosophy. By taking the time to establish a solid rapport with one or more selected journalists, and by sharing their articles through your own outlets, you can create solid two-way relationships which benefit both parties.
Use Social Media In Your Press Releases
Whenever you prepare a press release, it will be a good idea to ensure that it’s compatible with social media, so you can extend your reach with positive news. Press releases posted on your company website should be accompanied by ‘share’ buttons to make it easy for readers to pass the good news along (see example below). You can maximize your press releases by writing blog postings which link to them, by using compact sentences which can be tweeted, and by including images optimal for each preferred network. To get even more mileage out of your press release, create a social media post with charts or infographics which will increase its appeal for sharing.
Prepare A Crisis Management Plan
You never want to be caught completely unprepared for a public relations disaster, because the damage inflicted can be profound and far-reaching. With no plan for recovery, your company could sustain such a black eye that it takes years to re-establish public trust and brand appreciation. Having a crisis management plan in place can at least help to manage the situation through press releases and social media postings. This will undoubtedly call for very delicate handling because anything that sounds like an excuse or a trivialization of the negative event will be perceived by the public as dodging the issue.
Generally speaking, the best approach to crisis management is the most forthright and honest one – a genuine apology, preferably from a high-ranking official in your company, accompanied by a sincere effort to repair the damage. Whatever your plan is for crisis management, make sure that it’s current and has the support of upper management, so your reaction can be swift and you can be sure it has all the necessary approval beforehand. When managing your company’s good reputation, decisiveness and promptness are essential.
The world of public relations has changed dramatically in recent years, and there are now many different options for getting your message out. Creativity is highly valued, and finding new ways to present your company can be some of the most effective approaches. The use of social media can be extremely powerful for everything from product launches to promoting company branding to managing public relations. Cultivating your social media presence and increasing your following can reap benefits far beyond what you might have originally intended, as followers share with others, and those others share with their following.
You can track the success of your social media efforts through analytics, so you can tweak your efforts to be even more effective. It's also good to keep in mind that social media can be used for more than positive promotion and that if your company should suffer any kind of negative press for an event or even a bad review, having a recovery plan can be crucial in stemming the tide of negativism. In any case, using some or all of the tips above and planning your social media usage, will help to maximize your company’s public relations, and extend your reach significantly.