Blogs as Excellent Public Relations Tools

By writing about your industry, reviewing products, providing company news, and commenting on various business and economics issues, your blog is a ready source of news stories. By writing in a style that reflects your personality, along with your expertise in the industry, journalists will consider you to be an industry expert.

As competition for available media coverage tightens in a sea of press releases and attention stealing publicity stunts, it is harder than ever for a business to gain much needed publicity. A business person is often at a complete loss as to how to get media coverage of a worthwhile business story.

Getting someone to hear the message is half the battle. Having the members of the media consider it newsworthy is the other half. Somewhere, there must be another vehicle that can gain the attention of an already swamped news editor. Help for the publicity seeking business person has arrived in the form of the blog.

A growing number of journalists and news editors are reading blogs on a daily basis to find new and interesting story ideas. Often faster and more efficient than reading press releases, blog entries are likely to yield targeted short and feature article material. When teamed with an RSS news feed, which employs the same technology as stock market and weather forecasts, a blog can provide an instant pipeline directly to interested media outlets.

Blogs provide a unique and personal way to communicate with current and prospective customers. By talking to people, in a conversational manner, a blog puts a human face on a company, that is difficult to duplicate in any other way.

The more casual and comparatively unfiltered voice of the blogger creates the image of a business as being composed of real people like you. Instead of being a nameless and faceless corporation, the blog helps the people in the company to come alive in their posts.

Should a disaster happen either to the business or its customers, a business blog provides an immediate and personalized vehicle to discuss the issue with the public. Instead of the “spin” usually associated with public relations, the blog can serve as an honest and concerned pipeline directly to the public.

By addressing the issues openly and honestly, the business can regain and even increase the public’s trust. Concerned customers and the general public will view the blog as giving the straight answers. Such trust will only help enhance the business’s reputation, both in the short and long run.

{mospagebreak title=The Value of Personalization}

Perhaps the single most powerful aspect of blogs, in the area of public relations, is the personalization aspect. The writer is a real person, putting a human face on what might otherwise be perceived as a unknown and distant company. By developing trust among the various readership groups, the blog writer provides a personal link to the company.

If the goal of a public relations effort is to work in coordination with sales and marketing, a blog will establish trust with current and prospective customers and clients. It’s a well known truism that people will buy from their friends and people whose word they trust. The development of a blog component to the company website will go far in achieving those trust based goals.

In the past, public relations depended upon controlling the message that was put forward from the organization. The unspoken goal was to manipulate public opinion. The pre-arranged message was centralized and carefully vetted for wording and nuances. The term “spin” was born to describe the technique.

Blogging as a public opinion medium gives up that tight control and presents a message in a conversation with the reader. In that sense, the blog cultivates public opinion. With increasing transparency, inside and outside of organizations, the best approach is one of open discussion. A blog is the ideal delivery vehicle.

Many people have begun to mistrust the traditional canned public relations approach as lacking honesty. The openness of a blog changes that perception entirely. As the philosopher Marshall McLuhan stated, “Perception is reality”. In other words, what we perceive to be true is real in our own thoughts.

A blog can enhance that perception of honesty by delivering the straight goods on an issue. With that open approach, lacking the traditional tightly controlled message, trust in the company is enhanced. In both the short and longer terms, that trust translates into more life long customers and clients.

{mospagebreak title=Getting Traditional Media Exposure Through a Blog}

The traditional media has begun to visit blogs and to subscribe to blog RSS feeds, via an RSS reader. As a blog is updated, the RSS feed, usually coded in XML and Atom, sends the post or part of the post to its subscribers. Developing and adding an RSS feed is easily activated, and is readily available with almost every blogging tool. For sites preferring their own coding, there is widely available code that can be modified as needed to suit your personal requirements.

Your blog’s readership can easily access your posts as they are updated in real time. Much of that regular blog audience are members of the traditional mainstream media, consisting of newspaper, television, and radio journalists and editors.

“By writing about your industry, reviewing products, providing company news, and commenting on various business and economics issues, your blog is a ready source of news stories.”

The news media are constantly on the lookout for potential news stories. By writing about your industry, reviewing products, providing company news, and commenting on various business and economics issues, your blog is a ready source of news stories. By writing in a style that reflects your personality, along with your expertise in the industry, journalists will consider you to be an industry expert.

As someone considered knowledgeable in your business area, you will often be called upon for news interviews, in each of the mainstream media. Not only will you be interviewed about your own company, but about issues concerning your industry as a whole.

Be certain to always make yourself available. Reporters are pressed for time, due to tight deadline schedules. If you are unavailable, they will immediately call upon other people in your industry for comment. Provide your media contacts with a telephone number and fax number, where you can be reached at all times.

That media information should be readily available on your blog, as well as conveniently placed on the company website. Include a press kit, with your biography and other background materials to help the journalists do their job. Your assistance will be appreciated, and your expertise sought more often.

{mospagebreak title=Blogging Through a Crisis}

One of the most difficult times for any company, from a public relations standpoint, is during a company or industry crisis. During those often painful moments, the temptation for most traditional businesses is to shut down communications to the outside. All of their statements and reports are carefully screened, and often require many people to sign off on them prior to release to the media and the public. Those controlled message days are a thing of the past.

By posting regular and open information on your company blog, you can address the crisis, fairly and honestly. Keeping the public completely aware of where your business stands, and what is the plan going forward, helps to improve confidence from your readership. Blogs provide an unlimited number of postings per day. You can update what is happening, during the peak of the crisis, in real time.

Instead of hiding the problems, the trust your blog has developed over time, makes it the place for people to turn, for unfiltered information. Your job is to give the public honest answers, and not traditional spin. That openness about where the company stands, and it how it plans to resolve the problem, will be reported favorably in the media.

The general public will leave your blog feeling that they are provided with straight answers. Speaking directly those affected by the disaster will increase the reputation of your company, rather than detract from it. That confidence factor can only serve to enhance your company image, while raising your personal profile within the industry.

{mospagebreak title=Additional Blog Benefits}

Along with the raised public and media profiles resulting from your blog public relations efforts, there are additional benefits from your blog. As a search engine optimization vehicle that requires minimal additional effort, blogs are ideal. The constant addition of relevant and keyword rich posts will provide a powerful boost to your business in the search engines.

Blogs not only benefit a website through content but with an abundance of theme-related links as well. Bloggers are free and generous linkers. Often without expecting reciprocation, blog owners will freely link to content that they find interesting for their readership.

Since incoming blog links tend to be from other blogs concerned with the same subject matter, the links gain extra search engine value due to topic relevance. With the links often made within the blog posts themselves, their relevance to your blog and website is almost assured.

Relevant links will help propel your blog to the top of the search engine rankings for your most important keywords. Coupled with the fresh keyword rich content, resulting from your frequent postings, blogs are a powerful force in the search engines.

Those high search placements are important in any public relations effort. Modern journalists turn to the Internet for research materials. That means finding useful sites on the search engines. Thanks to your blog, your site will rank very well in the media’s searches.

When your site ranks highly, it implies the importance of your site to a reporter. As a result, you might very well be contacted as a source for comment on related business issues. Your blog will then become regular reading, for the journalist seeking further topic information. The members of the media are then very likely to add your blog’s RSS feed to their reading list.

{mospagebreak title=Conclusion}

Businesses seeking a public relations vehicle, that provides numerous additional benefits, should consider adding a blog component to their website. The authentic and personalized blog voice is a natural fit for any public relations effort.

A rapidly growing number of journalists and editors are reading blogs on a daily basis. It’s becoming imperative that a company start a blog to keep up with that trend. Thanks to the addition of an RSS feed, a blog’s updated post can be on a journalist’s computer in seconds.

The conversational voice, most utilized in blog postings, establishes a huge degree of trust with the blog’s reading public. That personalization will not only attract loyal readers, but will help to put a human face on the entire organization. People prefer to buy and do business with people whom they know and trust. The blog develops and nourishes that trust aspect.

In times of crisis or disaster, a blog can provide a rapid response and update system, to get out an unfiltered message to the reading audience. Journalists can keep up with developments and write stories based on the postings. The company gains untold additional credibility with the general public due to the policy of open communications channels.

Search engine optimization benefits are enhanced with the addition of a blog to a site. The fresh keyword rich content ranks highly in the search engines. Blogs are also magnets for relevant incoming links, multiplying the blog’s built in search engine power. Higher search engine visibility ensures that more journalists and editors add your blog to their regular reads.

Old style tightly controlled public relations are becoming a thing of the past.

Get into the new public relations paradigm, by adding the personalized voice of a blog.