On the surface, the public relations industry seems to be in the middle of an upheaval. But in reality, PR firms and agencies have never had a better opportunity to do what they’re supposed to do – communicate with the public.
Media relations, which was once synonymous with public relations, is only one element in connecting with the masses. Now PR pros have to understand how to leverage a broader spectrum of mediums. They have to ask themselves, “where are the people?”
And that question is easy to answer: search engines and social media. Think about these numbers: 400 billion people conduct online searches every month. And there are more people on Twitter and Facebook than there are in most countries.
Compare that to The New York Times and USA Today, two of the largest national dailies in the United States. Together they combine to have a circulation of about 3 million people. Ask yourself, where is the public? What’s the best way to communicate with that public? Is it through traditional media, or through search engines and social media?
The answer is D, all the above.
And the good news is, you can knock out both birds with one stone. If you use good SEO services, you can reach out to your customers and the media at the same time. PRWeek and PRNewswire recently released a joint study about journalists’ use of search engines and social media for researching stories. They measured the responses of 2,685 journalists and PR professionals:
- 95% of journalists use Google and other search engines during the course of research for a story
- 93% of journalists look at a company website during the course of research for a story
- 34% use a company blog during the course of research for a story
- 46% say they sometimes or always use blogs for research purposes
- 45% of journalists say they’ve quoted a blog in an article
- When researching a company, 90% say they acquire information through a company’s website.
- 33% of journalists report using social networks in their research as opposed to 24% in 2009
- 32% of journalists have quoted a Twitter post in a story
To sum it up, these stats paint the obvious picture: Journalists rely heavily on search engines, blogs and social media for stories. Almost every journalist that responded said they use search engines and a company website for a story. What does that mean for a PR pro? They need to make sure their clients can be found online by journalists, that they have a navigable website with an informative blog, and are active on social media.
Make it Easy for Journalists
In PRWeek/PRNewswire’s report, 72% of journalists reported a higher workload than last year. Reporters are doing more than ever, so it’s important to make their life easier. A good website combined with top placement in the search engines won’t just get you more traffic and conversions, it won’t just help you connect with the public better, it will also help you connect with journalists better, which may help you get significantly more press.
This could deserve its own blog post. SEO reputation management helps drive positive traffic to the top of the search results, and pushes negative traffic to deeper pages. For organizations that need an image overhaul, SEO reputation management is a potent tool PR agencies should be able to use effectively.
Power of Blogs for Press
Now, on the negative side. 51% of journalists in this report said they don’t find company blogs useful – because they don’t trust how businesses are presenting information.
“You don’t want to just take what a company is saying as a reflection of the whole truth,” a reporter said, who was quoted in PRWeek/PRNewswire’s study.
However, that’s a problem with press releases and everything else you might do to sell a story. Reporters, in general, are skeptical. To overcome this, make sure your blog is up-to-date, provides valuable, honest, objective content. A good blog that is easily researched can give journalists a trouble-free way to research your industry and quote you. Make sure you provide background information, advice, multimedia, etc., to make it easy for reporters.
To reach more reporters, you have to be in direct correlation with what journalists are doing. And today, journalists are doing what everyone else is doing – searching online and delving into social media.
**Photo of Russell Crowe from the film "State of Play." Image from NYDailyNews.com.