From BizCommunity.com comes this advice from Sally Falkow for PR folks and those who hire them:
Traditional PR is dead - new content strategies are needed
Amy Gahran, Editor of Contentious, recently threw out a challenge to PR people: What if the press release were outlawed today? What if you'd get burned at the stake if you wrote or transmitted another press release? What other types of documents, channels, etc. would you use to get your communication job done? I dare you to think creatively about this issue.
The reason I feel PR people should take a long hard look at this challenge is that there has been a marked shift in media consumption. The playing field has changed so much in the last five years it's hardly recognizable. The majority of Americans in the 18 - 54 age group now get their news and information online. Yahoo News has the largest online news audience. That's more than CCN.com, the NYTimes.com or even the BBC.com
A New Look At PR
To ignore these changes and keep on doing PR the same old way doesn't make any sense to me. Of course people still read print, but not like they used to. It is a fact that your audiences have shifted. They are online.
More than two thirds of all purchases are first researched online and they are looking for peer reviews, user comments or opinions from people they trust. You simply do not have control of the conversation anymore. Just sending out press releases to mainstream media is about as effective as an ostrich sticking his head in the sand!
Here is my list of PR "do's" in response to Amy's challenge:
1. Figure out who your audiences really are, what they care about and where they are online. A good example, Stonyfield Farms Blogs.
2. Find out what key phrases they use when they search for companies, products or issues like yours.
3. Keyword research for PR is different - you need to know what keywords they search in the News Engines as well as in the Search Engines.
4. Take a fresh look at your press releases. Realize that with online news sites such as Yahoo News, Google News or Topix, you reach your audience directly. Your release doesn't have to get the attention of a reporter or an editor. Write your release like a news story that the end user will read and respond to.
5. Optimize the press release according to the search engine rules so it gets found.
6. Make sure you have links from the release to your website. And that the page they land on addresses the content you have put in the release, so you get the result you want.
7. Start a blog. If the thought of opening your blog to comments from anyone and everyone, including porn spammers, makes you go pale and start shaking, use an enterprise blogging platform like Blogsite from Myst Technology. You can still allow the dialogue - just not in real time. And then you won't have to hire a full time assistant to monitor the comments.
8. Make the blog about news and issues, not just another sales pitch for your company. Example: Jason Tremblay started the Time Share Owners blog earlier in the year. In June the first hurricanes hit and his coverage of the effect on vacationing and time share shot him to the top of the search results. This case study with stats and results will be presented at Search Engine Strategies next week. Page one search results translate to visibility and brand value.
9. Read other influential blogs in your industry. Link to them, mention them, get to know the bloggers. Comment on their content. One mention of the Digital Camera Shoot Out on Engadget did more for Samy's Camera than any mainstream media mentions have done in the past. When I met Jason Calacanis of Engadget at the PRSA Blog event, I thanked him for the mention. He was enthusiastic about Samys and now I have an opportunity to get more coverage on Engadget. Young, tech savvy males are one of the hardest audiences to reach and influence today. Jason has them.
10. Put your press releases on your website and put them into an RSS feed to broaden your online distribution. "Even if it's something as simple as putting press releases in an RSS feed, marketers will benefit from early exposure to distributing information via RSS — and receive valuable feedback from key constituents on what types of content they would like to have," says Charlene Li, Forrester Research, Using RSS As A Marketing Tool. PRESSfeed was developed to aid PR people to do this very thing.
11. Monitor your online footprint. Mentions in blogs - good or bad - can spread like wildfire. Blog Pulse is a handy tool to help you. The RSS Intelligence channels in a Blogsite make it a breeze.
PR today is a very different animal than it was five years ago. A press release can still be a very effective PR tool - if you do it according to the new rules of engagement.
Media Relations is still a major part of good PR - but you have to look beyond mainstream print and find out how to be effective online.