3 Public Relations Tools to Use for Your Business: Establishing Brand Journalism
By: Johana M. Caba, M.A.
Over the years, the main public relations tool that we all hear about is the press release. In the world of professional communications and public relations, the press release is the "it" tool for reaching target audiences through media outlets such as magazines, local and national newspapers, television, radio, podcasts, etc. We use the press release along with the media advisory and media exclusives to reach our target audiences and raise awareness for our clients. But, the press release is not the only tool in the toolbox for PR professionals. In this article, we will go over three tools that PR professionals can use while establishing the brand journalism of their organizations.
The News Release
The news release is very similar to the press release, the difference is who it is intended for. While the press release is intended for media outlets in an effort to earn media attention, the news release is intended directly for your target audience. This release can be published directly to your organizations website under one of the following tabs: newsroom, news releases, press releases. The news release as multiple functions. Although the main function is to inform your target audience without the need to use the media as a middle man, it can also be used by the media. When journalists visit your website, they will look under your press tab where they can find your news release ready for them to use to write about your organization. This is a great way to begin your brand journalism journey and solidify the brand of your organization.
Brand Journalism: Organizational Blogs
What is brand journalism? I've mentioned brand journalism a few times already, but I have not explained what it is. Brand journalism, in essence, is using your organization's owned media to share content in a journalistic manner. This is a way of sharing stories and information about your organization in a journalistic manner that can be easily consumed by your target audience but also used by journalists to write about your organization. By sticking to writing in a journalistic manner, you are making the job of the journalists easier when they visit your website to research. This can also make it more enticing for them to write about you since you have done a lot of their job already by sticking to journalism rules when writing your posts/blogs. But how does blogging fit in? Well, blogging is a great way to reach your audience with owned content. By writing a blog on your website, you are sharing content that you own and have control over. Blogging is a great way to share what's going on in your business, new products coming out, new research that you have done, ways that you are improving your community, etc. When setting up a brand blog, always make sure that you have specific rules for your employees to follow including blogging ethics.
Repurposing content is one of the smartest strategies for any business. Now that you have news releases and blog posts on your website, you can re-use the content that you already published on your website to share on social media. This is not only a smart way to be active on social media, but it is a great way to reach your audience faster and guide them back to your website for more information. Additionally, you can use social media, particularly Twitter, to reach journalists directly. You can build relationships with them while sharing your content and guiding them back to your website.
These are the three PR tools that PR professionals can use to establish the brand journalism of their organizations while directly reaching their target audiences. If you have more questions or would like to read more about brand journalism, comment below or email us at email@example.com
By: Johana M. Caba, M.A.
What is search engine optimization? By definition, it consists of the process by which you can improve the quality and quantity of your website traffic through search engines. This definition also clarifies that the optimization process focuses on targeting unpaid traffic rather than direct or paid views. There are many ways that you can improve your views by optimizing your pages and blog content. In this post, we will go over some of the best tips to improve your traffic, ranking, and domain authority.
Why is SEO important?
First, let's discuss the importance of search engine optimization. The optimization process is crucial for many reasons including the constant algorithm changes that companies like Google utilize to update their services. Google algorithms change every so often, which is why what worked 10 years ago does not work anymore. They use artificial intelligence (AI) robots that understand the things we value as people and what we want to see when we search for things, so they change the calculation of their results to suit our needs. These robots crawl through web pages on your website and index your site including your layout, videos, pictures, PDFs and written content. After the crawling and indexing are complete, they rank the content in order by how well it matches searcher queries. If your website is not optimized, then you will not rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).
When it comes to getting views, visitors and overall traffic to your website, you can use many tactics. Paid advertising, social media, paid social media ads, guest blogs, featured articles, and other collaborations are great ways to boost your visitors and views. But, the majority of any website's traffic comes from search engine results. One important thing to note is that these search companies make money from advertising which is why they like to keep people coming back to their SERPs. Although ads are very helpful in getting you to your bottom line, whether that be more traffic or sales, organic results are more credible to searchers and receive more clicks than paid ads. Think about it, when you search for something on Google, do you click the ad first or the organic results below the ads? Still, it is important that you use different avenues of ranking on search engines and attracting website visitors for your overall marketing strategy.
The on-page optimization refers to the keywords that you use, keyword phrases, and long-tail keywords that are found on your content. It's important to note that there are several factors that affect your website ranking when it comes to keywords. For example, you should not stuff them in your content because this gets you a negative flag from engines. You should also include them on your headline, your first sentence, and throughout your content. Additionally, you should also make sure that your images have keywords in their individual image links. Another tip that you should start thinking about is utilizing phrases and long-tail words because they have less searches and give you a bigger opportunity of ranking on the first page. These are the longer words or specific phrases that people use when they conduct a search. For example, using the long-tail "what is email marketing" rather than just the keywords "email marketing".
The off-page or off-site refers to the actions taken outside your website that impact your ranking on SERPs. These include backlinks and inbound links. Backlinks are crucial for improving your ranking because when coming from pages with higher domain authorities such as Moz, they tell search engines that your website is trustworthy, credible, relevant, and popular. You can get backlinks in a number of ways including writing guest posts for other sites, writing articles for other webpages, posting on social media, being linked on YouTube videos, etc. There are many factors that influence the contribution to your ranking that the backlink does to your website including the popularity of the linking site, its domain authority (DA), the relevance of the linking site's topic to your site, anchor text used, etc.
For small businesses, let's not forget about the local factor. This is all about your Google My Business information which is important to have completed so that the search engine knows to share your business with people searching for your type of industry in your area (City, County, State). For example, when you search "restaurants near me" or "hair salons near me" the locations that come up on your search are all within driving distance. This is possible due to these businesses completing their Google My Business. So, don't forget about that and if you have a brick-and-mortar location, go claim it now and fill our your information.
As a PR professional, it's important that you know and understand the many ways in which you can help yourself and your clients through search engines. Building a brand and getting your name out there takes time, just like any marketing or PR strategy, the results are not always fast. When it comes to improving the ranking of your sites and your client's pages through search engine optimization, you must remember that it will take a few months not a few days. Let's go over some of the tips you can use as a PR pro:
By: Johana M. Caba, M.A.
A press kit is designed to earn media attention for your business, brand, products, events, etc. It is one of the oldest tools used by public relations professionals to earn media attention for their clients. Back in the day, press kits were printed and mailed to media contacts while now they can be sent out electronically as electronic press kits (EPK) via email. Press kits can vary depending on your industry, business size, brand, etc. There are many ways to design visually appealing press kits that get your business the media attention you want. Getting your business featured in one of the major publications in your area, region or country is a huge accomplishment. Of course, you can always pay publications to feature your business as an ad. Earning the media attention through the use of these elements and media pitching is much better for your business because it is more trust-worthy to potential customers than ads. In this post, we will go over the best tips for creating your own press kit from public relations professionals and a free Press Kit Template will be emailed to you once your subscribe to my monthly newsletter (subscribed members will receive the free template with the December newsletter).
Press Kit Design
First thing is to gather all of your materials. There is a lot that goes into a your kit whether you are a small business, a blogger or a large non-profit organization. Before you can earn media through your good work, products and word-of-mouth, you will need to have all your ducks in a row. As a public relations professional, you learn the basics of creating a media kit in your introductory PR classes. In these classes, you learn that a media kit is a collection of materials arranged in a folder, envelope or other device that includes a cover letter summarizing the content of the kit and other materials that are listed below. I had not thought about this topic for a while since I work in the government relations aspect of PR which focuses more on pitching to journalists through press releases. But, a few weeks ago, I received an email newsletter from Garrett PR, you can subscribe to their newsletter on their website. The master mind behind this agency, their social media presence and their amazing blog is Michelle Garrett whom you can follow on Twitter @PRisUs.
Now that you know what sparked my interest in creating a press kit template and providing you with their purpose, let's dive in to their design. As I said before, you need to gather your information. Things you will need:
Media Guides and Guest Commentaries
A media guide is something that a brand/business/individual/organization provides to journalists that cover their industry. A company/business can have a section on their websites dedicated for the press with materials that are typically provided through a media guide. In this section of the website, you can include your bios, stats, fact sheets, press releases, photos and videos, etc. Of course, this all depends on your business. For bloggers, this might be different. Bloggers pitch their services to PR representatives at different companies and businesses through a press kit. The main difference between a blogger kit and a company kit is the purpose. The blogger press kit works to earn partnerships and sponsorships between the blogger and the business. The company media kit functions to earn the business/brand media attention by pitching to journalists and other PR representatives at different publications.
Another thing that is a great addition whether your purpose aligns with bloggers or companies, is guest commentaries. These are written reviews, letters or other materials from individuals that have certain credentials. For example, a skin care company might include a review from a dermatologist while a blogger might include a testimonial from a previous partnership or sponsorship. It all depends on the industry, but it is always good to have some individuals ready to give commentary to either journalists or PR representatives on your brand. The purpose of these guest commentaries is to be persuasive in their nature. They help in supporting your brand/business/individual credentials and provide word-of-mouth in support of your purpose.
Social Media and the Blogosphere
Social Media has a long history and has had an enduring influence on the way people and organizations communicate. It provides a two-way channel of communication between organizations and their customers. Unfortunately, at times it is a double-edged sword when it comes to bad reviews and bad comments on the brand. Still, social media is very important to your presence online. It is a great place to make contact and communicate with brands you want to partner with and with journalists you want to pitch. There are a lot of journalists on Twitter over other platforms. It is very important for your brand to be active on social media, to reply to comments, to share good reviews, and to help customers when they ask for help. This allows your reputation to be positive, to have more page likes on Facebook, to have your products pinned on Pinterest, and to increase your reach and engagement.
The blogosphere refers to all of the blogs on different industries that exist on the internet. There are blogs on lifestyle, exercise, personal blogs, company blogs, commentary blogs, book reviews, and so forth. As a small business, it can be beneficial to pitch to bloggers because they can provide positive attention for your business/brand. They will also help increase your reach and engagement with your target audience. For example, if you are a candle brand, it would be beneficial to partner with lifestyle and decor bloggers to have them review your products. This will only cost you shipping fees as you can provide them with your products to review. If things work out and the blogger likes your product, you can always offer them an affiliate code to promote your product. To learn more about affiliate marketing, visit my blog post on the topic.
Thank you for reading my long post on a public relations press kit for your small business or blogger brand. Subscribe to my newsletter to get the free template in your inbox. Remember, subscribed members will receive the templates with the December newsletter. And, if you have any questions or need any help, comment below or reach out to me on Twitter.
By: Johana M. Caba, M.A.
In the simplest of terms, public relations is the practice of building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships between an organization or brand and the public or their audience. Public relations is about building these relationships in order to create a positive image for your business or brand. There are many functions of public relations that we see on a daily basis including having clients featured on magazines and newspapers. Small businesses do not always have the funds to hire a professional in the public relations field, but there are benefits to at least understanding the basics.
Small businesses need to understand that PR and advertising are not the same thing. Getting good PR takes time, but it helps you define your brand. Good PR helps your audience or ideal customers understand who you are, why you do it and why people should care. In 2020, a big part of good PR is being transparent. This means that you share your process openly and do not hide certain aspects of your business from your audience. One of the worst things that we have seen happen with brands is that they are not transparent and then receive terrible social media backlash for being secretive or sneaky with their operations.
The good thing about PR for small businesses is that it stretches your budget because getting journalists, influencers and bloggers to write about your business gives you more for your money. One of the best sources of earning attention for your business is word-of-mouth because people trust what others have to say more than an advertisement. Word-of-mouth is what you want for your small business because it attracts customers to your brick-and-mortar location or to your website. Below is a quick list of 5 public relations tactics that you can use and if you want to see our Beginners Guide to a PR Plan click here:
A Beginners Guide to a PR Plan
By: Johana M. Caba
As a Public Relations student, you might be intimidated by the whole PR plan concept. Even as an entry level PR professional, your first PR plan will be an intimidating task. I know that this has always been an area where I have had so many questions from when I was an undergraduate student to now as a graduate student in Professional Communications. So, I wanted to create an easy beginner’s guide to help other aspiring PR professionals with their PR plans.
1. An Industry Analysis: The first step when writing a PR plan is typically the Executive Summary where you write a paragraph or two about the company, their situation, challenges and goals for your PR campaign. The second step is the industry analysis. For the industry analysis, you will need to research the industry of your client. Questions to ask yourself when researching are: How big is the industry? How much is the annual revenue of the industry? Is it projected to grow within the next few years and by how much? What are some current trends within the industry? These questions will guide your research and help you understand it so that you can create a comprehensive plan that will be beneficial for your client.
2. The Competitive Analysis: This section of your plan can be included under the industry analysis. You should compare two to three other brands with your client, all within the same industry. This should include comparisons of their size, goals, brand messages, previous PR plans, social media accounts, paid media advertisements, earned media and owned media.
3. SWOT: The SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) is the part of your plan where you take an in-depth look at your client. For this section, consider social, political, environmental, technological and legal factors. Depending on the size of the company, you will have more information on these issues. Another thing to consider is how other brands have handled similar issues. TIP: When you read your SWOT analysis to your client make sure to do it clockwise so you present in the following order: strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities.
4. Media Audit: In the media audit, you will take a look at what the media is saying about the company. If this is for a startup or small business, sometimes it's best to do the media audit on the competitors you chose for the competitive analysis. If this is a larger business, then take a look at the paid, earned and owned media of the company. You can also do a Lexis/Nexis search about the company or issues you are trying to address with the PR plan.
5. Objectives: Your objectives should be SMART objectives. This means that they should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. For example, a SMART objective would be “to increase sales by 20% within the next six months.” Make sure your objectives align with the mission and goals of the client. Other things to consider include raising awareness of the client, raising awareness of their social responsibility, informing the target audience about the company and changing attitudes towards your client.
6. Target Audience: Your target audience can be divided into your primary, secondary and tertiary audiences. You need to consider the ideal audience to focus on for your campaign. For the target audience, you need to take a look at the demographics of your audience which includes age, gender, income, race and marital status. You should also take a look at psychographics as this will help you understand your audience’s purchasing behaviours. Pyschographics will help you understand their lifestyle habits, purchasing habits, behaviours and their attitudes towards brands and products.
7. Key Messages: Your key messages are the messages you are trying to convey to your target audience. These messages should align with your objectives and your overall company mission. Key messages can be divided into primary and secondary messages. The primary messages are short statements that identify important information and/or communicate to the public what action you want them to take. Secondary messages are statements written in bullet points that support the primary messages with examples, facts, stories and testimonials in order to create credibility with the audience. For example, these can be written in the following format:
Primary Message: JM Integrated Marketing is dedicated and passionate about helping small businesses, individuals, nonprofits and government agencies establish a strong digital footprint.
8. Strategies and Tactics: A strategy is the main plan of action that will help you achieve your objectives. The tactics are the creative actions that will help you achieve your strategy. Although it can be confusing to distinguish between the two, a strategy identifies how the public will achieve the objective and the tactics are the elements and tools used to deliver the messages. Always ensure that the strategies and tactics align with your objectives and key messages. A good format to follow is below with an example:
Strategy One: Raise small business awareness of JM Integrated Marketing and their services.
9. Create your Tactical Elements: The tactical elements are the physical or digital elements that will help you achieve your strategy, objectives and overall purpose of the campaign. These can include social media posts, a content calendar, press release, media kit, blog posts, media alerts, podcast, promotions, press conferences, brochures, etc.
10. Create a Timeline: The timeline for your campaign will consists of your plan of action for the entirety of the campaign. For example, you need to select when and where materials will be created and disseminated. You will also need to plan when and where you will hold any events. The main purpose of the timeline is to have a clear path that you will follow for when, where and how all of the strategies and tactics will be executed in order to achieve the objectives of the campaign.
11. Create a Budget: The budget should include all of the expenses related to the campaign. For example, staff, printing expenses, event expenses, travel expenses, etc. For more information on the basis of a PR budget, take a look at this great article from Inc.
12. Measure and Evaluate: The final step of your PR plan is measuring your success and evaluating the plan. For this part, really take a look at what strategies and tactics worked best and ways of improving the campaign. Also consider things that did not work for future reference. Here, you should also decide what factors you will be measuring aside from meeting objectives.
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