In India, though the traditional public relations still rules, the future says, five years down the line, public relations profession will be transformed by the fast emerging new media. PR professionals will either have to re-evaluate their techniques or become irrelevant.
The new age of PR will be divided into three separate branches – search engine marketing or optimization, website development and social media. Will explain how PR relates to each one of them.
SEM or SEO
Working around with search engine or making search engine work for you, provides an online parallel to the ultimate goal of public relations, i,e. Increasing clients visibility. This can be done through effective search engine optimization and then effective online marketing of your web properties. There are many techniques used to achieve this goal, some of the common and easily doable are as follows:
- Identify keywords that are most relevant to your business (words used by your customers on the search engine to locate you or your competitor or your industry)
- Generate as many as inbound links as possible (Links that connects to your site from someone else’s site or blog). This can be done by hyper linking important keywords pointing to your site, in every content (articles, online press releases etc.) that you generate and publicize it in as many blogs, newswires, portals, article submission sites etc. More links pointing to your website, makes the search engine believe that your site has something important to offer to its surfers and hence improves your search engine rankings.
Web properties design and development
This area is given least importance today even by the social media pros. Websites content can be developed in such a way, that every important keyword should be subtly incorporated in the website content without affecting the visitor’s experience.
Website should also necessarily host a media-room. The responsibility of maintaining this media room should directly rest with the PR professional responsible for the company’s reputation. You don’t have to necessarily do it yourself but alteast make sure that it happens.
More and more brands are heavily focussing on social media, because it offers them direct reach to its most important and relevant target audience. As India’s Internet infrastructure improves and with the advent of fast developing easy surfing tools such as smart phones, e-readers, and ipads news seekers will move on to internet for fulfilling their need of news and networking. Social Media also offers tools to target the most important and relevant audience as well as measure the effectiveness of the tools employed.
But wait, instead of jumping and start using all the available tools, it is necessary to understand what is going on there. It is important to listen, what people are talking about your brand, company or services or if there is any expectation of consumers from the industry itself. There are various free as well as paid tools available to do this. You can use free tools such as Google Alert, Technorati, Social Mentions, Google Trends, Google Insights, and many more. Listen selectively using from not more than 3-4 social media platforms
Once you have understood what kind of conversations are going on about your brand or services, do not blatantly start promoting your brand in these forums. They will either blacklist you or ignore you totally. Come out as an industry expert and offer help, offer suggestions, answer questions, take part in the ongoing discussions, write industry focussed by-lined articles. Start with these basic steps first, before getting on with using more advanced tools such as blogging.
If you are already part of this ever-growing social media bandwagon, please share if you use any simpler tools that starters can easily use and start networking.