Businesses need to consider how they manage public relations (PR) online. Traditional techniques may not always apply to online PR.
With online PR, you communicate not only with targeted media channels and online journalists but also with the wider public who are talking about your business. Online PR is no longer driven by the few but rather by the many. The challenge is identifying the key influencers talking about your brand online and how you can engage with them to communicate your message. See influencer marketing
There are a number of key differences in how you should approach online PR compared to traditional routes:
- Online communities tend to form around interests or 'passion points'. You need to identify the online communities that are most relevant to your target audience and provide the stories and messages that will get them talking about your business.
- Create 'a buzz' around your brand by using different types of content - eg video, images, articles, blog posts, etc. These can quickly gain social currency and be spread virally over the internet.
- As well as using third party sites, think about publishing content to your own website, social media channels or blog. This will give you a little more control over how your message is delivered. Think about the tone of your content and what interests your customers about your brand.
- Online audiences value authenticity, transparency and interaction over 'spin' and obvious sales messages. If your audience feels that you're trying to hide something it will do your company's reputation more harm than good.
- It's well worth befriending people with an influential online presence in your field, such as bloggers, to act as brand advocates. Advocates can also help you manage reputational risk.
See content marketing.
Online reputation management is the business of monitoring what online communities are saying about your brand. Monitoring what consumers say can provide early warning signs for product or service issues, and allow you to 'catch' potential disasters before they escalate. Tools such as Google Alerts and Twitter Search can help you to track key industry words and phrases.
Communities you should monitor include blogs, discussion threads, forums and social networking sites.
If a crisis does occur, you can immediately respond to concerns and post information. Addressing crises quickly can head off speculation and accusations that you're trying to deny or hide something.
If you have built up a reputation for transparency through your online presence from the start, your crisis response will carry more weight.