Free PR for Your Business is Easier Than You Think

While the value of a properly integrated campaign by a PR agency can’t be impressed upon enough for promoting your business, I know that this isn’t always feasible. Cost restrictions, bad timing, juggling between PR, marketing or advertising – all good reasons why a PR campaign isn’t high on your business agenda. Cost, in particular, is often a stumbling block, especially in the current economic climate.

However, there are some ways to help you build your brand and public awareness that you can do yourself – even better, they’re free!

Start a Company Blog

I know this has been said numerous times before and you’re probably tired of hearing it, but a company blog is one of the best forms of promotion you can ever have. Think about it – press releases have to be newsworthy if they want to be seen as authoritative and be picked up by the newswires. Nor should they be seen as too salesy (and rightly so).

Yet with a company blog, this needn’t be the case (although going too promotional might put people off). You can keep your customers up-to-date with the latest news as it happens – new employees, product launches, upcoming promotions, and much more.

Business blogs also offer something invaluable to any business looking to build customer loyalty – a human voice. This “softer approach” has been proven to resonate with customers and helps increase repeat sales and recommendations.

Social Media and Social Networking

Another great promotional tool is social media and social networking. If you’re not using the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, Stumbleupon and others, you’re missing out on a huge untapped market.

By making connections on these sites, and others like them, you’re gaining access to hundreds if not thousands of potentially new customers. Twitter in particular is fast becoming one of the online networking places to be. Just make sure you use social media properly – as a strategy for communicating and not merely a self-promotional tool.

Have a Company Email Newsletter

Does your website offer a newsletter option? If not, why not? This is the ideal medium for targeting “hot prospects” – after all, if someone’s signed up to your newsletter, that means they want to hear your news. You don’t have to actively go after these subscribers – they’re already your “fans”.

Just make sure you have interesting content to send out. Again, it shouldn’t just be all about you and your company. Offer useful tips to your customers on how they can help their own business. This may be with one of your products or services, or simple business housekeeping. Either way, offering help and solutions will ensure customers look at you as someone that wants to help, and this will make them more loyal to your company.

These are just some of the ways you can promote yourself. There are others – joining an Internet forum or discussion board, for example. Yet they all share one thing in common – they’re all free.

The only cost is a bit of your time – for the potential results, surely that’s got to be worth it?

Copyright © 2008 Press Release PR. If you wish to reprint this article, please list an author credit as “Danny Brown / Press Release PR” and link the credit to http://www.pressreleasepr.com

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Why There’s Still Hope for the PR Industry

I read a great blog post at InternshipRatings.com the other day. In it, Beth Settje talked about how it was important for PR interns to remain true to themselves when they leave the learning environment and move into the real business world. Key to Beth’s article was walking away from (or not even interning at) a company whose ethics and morals didn’t sit with the student’s own.

The reason I enjoyed this post so much was that it said everything I believe in on how the industry I love needs to change. For too long the PR industry has had a negative reputation. A lot of the time I have to actually agree with the disparaging points made – poor ethics, dubious facts to push a product or service and questionable practices from a non-regulated industry are just some examples.

That’s not to say that every PR agency or professional is like this – thankfully. Unfortunately, in an industry tied to promotion, branding and reputation, the bad examples tend to get more press than the good examples. Additionally, the bad examples can also ruin a client and this is where our industry differs from so many others.

Which is why Beth’s article lifted my hopes. If the new PR professionals of tomorrow are being taught the value of ethics and transparency today, it can only bode well for the PR industry as a whole. Like any industry, much of the faults with PR lie with agencies and professionals that have worked a certain way, are only in it for what they can get, and to heck with the client or anyone else.

The new breed of PR professionals can change this mindset. There are already changes in thinking underway, by both professionals and agencies alike. Fresh views often equal fresh beginnings – here’s hoping today’s interns can influence tomorrow’s workplace.

Of course, it needs the owners of these static agencies to be open to change and a different way of thinking, and not all will be. But if they want the PR industry to survive in a marketplace where social media is taking away many of the traditional PR roles, then they’d do well to listen to these new voices.

Copyright © 2008 Press Release PR. If you wish to reprint this article, please list an author credit as “Danny Brown / Press Release PR” and link the credit to http://www.pressreleasepr.com

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MeeID Offers Easy Online Identity

New web app MeeID is still in Beta, but already it’s becoming popular with social media aficionado’s everywhere (me included).

Simply put, MeeID gives you 10 lines of text to link to, as well as a picture of yourself, to give you a short and sweet online ID. Your text can link to your homepage, Facebook, Twitter – basically, anywhere that has a URL about you.

The potential is obvious – businesses could use it to highlight different sales or offers in an all-in-one option, or people could use it to link to their portfolio or online resume. Or set up multiple MeeID’s – one for business, one for personal use, one for wish lists – the list of possibilities are almost endless.

The user interface is still a little clunky when setting up your pages, and explaining the favourites could be better, but overall MeeID is a funky little app that should find a place in social media bookmarks everywhere.

Check out MeeID for yourself.

Copyright © 2008 Press Release PR. If you wish to reprint this article, please list an author credit as “Danny Brown / Press Release PR” and link the credit to http://www.pressreleasepr.com

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Using a Social Media Press Release Effectively

There’s been a lot of talk recently about social media press releases. Surprisingly, most of it’s come from the public relations industry, with both supporters and detractors of the format coming to verbal blows over its usefulness. Personally, I find this surprising since, when used properly, a social media press release is an excellent and inexpensive way to promote your business news. Perhaps that’s the problem – “when used properly”.

I recently took part in a radio interview/discussion about social media press releases and it was obvious that there’s quite a bit of confusion when it comes to how the format should be used. The main problem seems to be that many businesses are using social media press releases as the sole method of promoting their news.

This isn’t necessarily the fault of the business – many PR professionals and agencies seem at a loss when it comes down to using this type of release effectively. This then leads to their clients being wrongly advised when it comes to detailing their next PR push. So how should a social media press release be used?

Enhance the Strategy – Don’t BE the Strategy

As I said earlier, the biggest mistake being made is using a social media press release as the key component in a PR campaign. This won’t work for a simple reason – this isn’t what the format all about.

While there’s no doubting that this type of press release can go out via online distribution news-wires, I feel it’s at its most effective as a visually stimulating and interactive information hub instead. Instead of the boring and stale static text of a normal press release, one that’s enhanced for social media can include:

  • Video
  • Audio
  • Embedded links
  • RSS feeds
  • Comment area
  • Uploaded multimedia files
  • Direct interaction with social networks

As I mentioned, this type of release can certainly be sent out via some of the online distribution channels. Personally, though, I feel the social media press release should be held back from normal distribution. Instead, go with a traditional text version with perhaps a PDF file attachment of your portfolio or company bio. Use the normal promotion methods you would for an online (or offline) press release.

For the social media release, use that as your main information center. It can almost act as a miniature virtual newsroom. All your company videos, promotional images, feeds and more can be implemented onto your social media release. To complement the static release, have a link back to your social media press release for further information.

It’s Good to Talk

The main point is to use your social media release as your communication tool. If you wish to get instant feedback on your news or product, open up the release to allow comments on it; have links to your About Us page on your website; make it particularly easy for people to contact you through a variety of methods (email, social media, business network sites, etc).

The whole point of social media is about the conversation. By realizing this, businesses will connect with far more potential customers than they might have previously. And if they (and their PR teams) use a social media press release as part of a strategy as opposed to being the strategy, these results will only be solidified.

Copyright © 2008 Press Release PR. If you wish to reprint this article, please list an author credit as “Danny Brown / Press Release PR” and link the credit to http://www.pressreleasepr.com

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Why the BackUp Shotgun Rack Company Deserve All the Bad PR They Can Get

When it comes to bad PR, the BackUp Shotgun Rack manufacturers take the gold medal. While any business has the right to advertise their products how they see fit, to use the pain and suffering of a family in shock is just downright immoral and disgusting. Yet this is exactly what the makers of the BackUp Shotgun Rack have done with their latest press release.

Using the tragic events over the weekend, Backup suggest that Hollywood actress Jennifer Hudson’s family may have still been alive had they possessed BackUp’s Shotgun Rack. I don’t want to use any of the phrases or suggestions used in the release, as the way that the whole angle is pitched is hugely insensitive, immoral and opportunistic.

What I will say is that if this is the depths that companies will sink to in order to make a profit, it’s a sad indictment on the human spirit. From a PR point of view, I’d have to question the PR team that thought this whole pitch would be a good idea to promote a product. From a business point of view, I’d have to question the morals of any company that feels it’s fair game to use such tragic circumstances to sell their goods.

I wonder if John Peters, the president of the BackUp Shotgun Rack company, would be so keen to issue such a press release if the tragic circumstances had befallen his own family? Somehow I doubt it.

If there’s any justice in this world, this pitch will get the negative reaction it deserves and see a sharp drop in custom for the company. Perhaps being hit in the pocket will be the only way to get through to the makers of the BackUp Shotgun Rack that profits should never come before humanity.

  • Update October 29 2008 – After a slew of negative publicity, the press release has been updated to remove the majority of reference to Jennifer Hudson’s family. Due to the various comments here believing there is nothing wrong with the pitch, I can only assume they have read the new version. Therefore, while I wished to leave the details with John Peters’ company, I feel the original version should be reprinted (my thanks to Katja Presnal for the copy).

“COULD A BEDSIDE SHOTGUN RACK HAVE SAVED JENNIFER HUDSON’S FAMILY FROM TRAGIC DEATH?

Chicago, IL (MMD Newswire) October 28, 2008 — Tragedy strikes in a Chicago home leaving 3 people dead and an Oscar winner forced to identify the bodies of her family.

Jennifer Hudson’s mother and brother were gunned down in their home Friday. Could an invaluable device have saved their lives?

It’s called The BackUp and it is a bedside shotgun rack.

Everyday, there are over 8,000 home invasions in America, many resulting in assault, rape, and murder. That’s according to a report by the US Department of Justice.

Whether it is someone known or a stranger entering the home, too many people in this country are paying with their lives during these home invasions. The Hudson family is just one of far too many Americans gunned down in their own home.

What can be done? Law enforcement and the government aren’t solving the problem. So law-abiding citizens are now forced to take their safety, security, and life into their own hands.

Shotguns are often weapons of choice at home because of their deterrent effect on assailants, their close-range stopping power, their affordability and their reduced risk of injury to innocent others from stray shot. But the problem is storing them in a place where you don’t have to turn your back on your assailant. Propped in the corner or under the bed takes valuable time to get to, and could cost you your life.

But now there is a solution. The BackUp makes them easily accessible during a time of need. Racked between the mattresses, The BackUp offers immediate access to the homeowner’s shotgun: in the hands, cocked and ready to defend in 2 seconds.

Home Security Expert Howard Pitts says, “A shotgun provides the most effective protection against home invasion. And The BackUp is a much safer and secure solution than having a shotgun in the corner or under the bed.” 

The BackUp is made in America and the adjustable 2-foot by 2-foot rack assembles in minutes.

For more information, visit the website at http://www.the-backup.com 

Available for immediate interview, contact company president John Peters at
 (612) 605-3613 or email at press-info@the-backup.com.”

  • Update October 30 2008 – John Peters has responded to the widespread criticism through a forum for gun owners. He has also had the company website updated to “respond to world-wide media inquiries” following the furore over his press release. The fact that Peters used a gun owners forum instead of addressing the inquiries directly, and still doesn’t offer an apology on his website to the Hudson family, speaks volumes of his intentions when authorizing the release in the first place.

Copyright © 2008 Press Release PR. If you wish to reprint this article, please list an author credit as “Danny Brown / Press Release PR” and link the credit to http://www.pressreleasepr.com


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Too Many Cooks Spoil the Business Broth

There’s an old saying that too many cooks spoil the broth. This is equally true for businesses, particularly smaller ones. While it’s essential to grow to continue early success, it’s also important to keep realistic with your aims.

Whether it’s launching new products, starting a PR/marketing/advertising campaign or adding sections to your website, taking on too much will leave you thinly spread and, ultimately, less effective. Instead, concentrate on one or two growth areas, and make them as strong as they can possibly be. This will allow you a solid grounding for increasing activity at a later date.

Product Launches

Look at two of the biggest and most successful companies around today – Apple and Microsoft. When they launch a new product, it’s usually no more than 2 different products. The iPhone, the iPod, Windows Vista, Xbox – although there may be different versions of the same product for different markets, essentially it still equates to one product line.

This is one of the main reasons why these two companies lead the market in their fields. They keep the new products launched to a minimum for a simple reason – don’t confuse the market. This ensures that people aren’t wondering which version is better – instead, all they need to decide is which colour to go for. Keep your own product launches restricted to a minimum and build their brand loyalty first. Then expand.

Less is More

One of the more common mistakes that I’ve found in the past is from clients looking to have a huge PR campaign when in reality all that’s needed is a smaller, more targeted one. This isn’t necessarily the client’s fault – more the programming that we tend to receive that bigger is better.

However, unless you have a huge budget to employ multiple PR agencies, or one that can provide you with dozens of bodies for your account, having a large PR campaign is invariably just pouring money down the drain.

Additionally, it can lead to a confused message coming from your business – is Product A better than Product B? Why should I use Product C over A and B?

Instead of confusing your target audience with multiple PR campaigns all being run at the same time, concentrate your efforts on your limited product launch instead. Reach the audience – consumer and media – that you’re after, knock them for six with an excellent product and promotion, and you’ll find your results will be far stronger than if you throw everything you have at a wall and hope some of it sticks.

While you certainly don’t want to stand still in business, you don’t want to run too fast or spend money unnecessarily or for the wrong reasons. If someone tells you that you need to spend so much on something, ask why. If the answer is because bigger is better, say “Thanks, but no thanks – I’d rather concentrate on quality over quantity.”

Working to that mantra will help you succeed when others are failing around you.

Copyright © 2008 Press Release PR. If you wish to reprint this article, please list an author credit as “Danny Brown / Press Release PR” and link the credit to http://www.pressreleasepr.com

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Always Monitor Your Online Presence

If there’s one area where the Internet has made a huge difference in our everyday lives, it’s with the amount of information that is now freely available to and about us. Just type some keyword phrases into Google and you can be privy to almost everything that’s ever been written about a person or company. Yet this isn’t always a good thing, as a friend of mine recently found out.

Typing her name into Google, she found herself on the Rip Off Report website, under a list of false accusations about her. What makes it worse with the Rip Off Report website is that the owner protects the names of the accusers yet will quite happily publish any story or complaint without checking the facts. Instead, the accused can issue a rebuttal but that’s it – the complaint (false or otherwise) stays on the site for the whole world to see.

This seems morally and ethically wrong to me. Unfortunately, it also seems fairly common when it comes to your online reputation. If anyone can go online and post lies about you or your business, the results can obviously be extremely damaging. While you can certainly take out a lengthy and potentially costly lawsuit, the damage has been done.

This is why it’s so important to keep tabs on what’s being said about you online. Although you may not be able to prevent something from being written, you can react to it a lot quicker. Some of the best methods of monitoring your online presence include:

  • Google Alerts. Still in Beta, Google Alerts allow you to type in a certain keyword or phrase and whenever that’s referred to online, you’ll be alerted.
  • Serph. Excellent tool that searches the web for any mention of you, your business or brand. Can take its time to find all the results but the information it retrieves makes the wait worthwhile.
  • Technorati. The “blog bible”, this site allows you to type in keywords, URL’s or tags and any posts that make a mention of these words will show up.

These are just some of the free methods you can use to keep track of what’s being said about you online. There are various professional business services available as well, if you need a more corporate-led approach.

Whichever one you choose to use, make sure you use it regularly. Otherwise you may find yourself in the same situation as my friend currently does – and a reputation can be a hard thing to rebuild once tarnished.

Copyright © 2008 Press Release PR. If you wish to reprint this article, please list an author credit as “Danny Brown / Press Release PR” and link the credit to http://www.pressreleasepr.com

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