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Martin Wales

[November 4, 2002]

Customer Catcher

By Martin Wales

Profiting With PR Power, Part IV:
Your PR Advantage On The Internet

Isn't it nice to know that there are multiple ways for your company to get more media coverage? Can you sense the increased confidence of your prospects due to the credibility of favorable reviews and other positive press? How might your weekly, monthly, or quarterly sales benefit from the added exposure?

The public relations (PR) game has changed with the Internet. Don't think that PR is just about traditional media, like magazines and newspapers. You can use it to communicate information to the media specifically, use it to speak directly to your distribution channels, or, if you wish, directly to your customers.

An effective, comprehensive PR strategy must include several different approaches to getting maximum leverage from the 'Net. Let's take a look at advantages to be gained when you use the Internet as part of your own powerful PR machine.

Using search engines, you can identify all the media outlets you could ever want. Build a list of Web sites, e-mail newsletters, and even off-line publications that you want to cover you. Start and build relationships with publishers, producers, and columnists that specialize in covering your product area.

Your products or expertise can be featured in Internet articles or newsletters with little hassle. Simply search for Internet-based publications using a search engine. Find their editorial calendars and match up their content schedule with your services, and send your press releases to their attention.

Once you've identified where you want PR, you can connect with media sources around the world in seconds for pennies. E-mail alone gives you the ability to quickly and affordably communicate via press releases and article submissions to multiple publications and media venues in your industry niche or in the general mass media.

You can spend thousands of dollars to get one article placed in a popular business or technology magazine when using PR agencies' services. There are times when this is viable or appropriate, like during an intense media blitz for a product launch. However, if you're a start-up or just cost conscious with a tight budget, your own media efforts shouldn't require such expense.

The Internet originated as a text-based medium. The most powerful aspect of the 'Net remains with the text. Words transmit the most information. With e-mail alone, you can easily connect with media centers of influence to get your message out. Of course, your Web site backs up your claims and give reporters a place to get more detailed information and pictures, once you've piqued their interest.

The speed of the Internet means you can react quickly to opportunities that suddenly arise: you can edit existing content as you offer new versions of your product, and you can reach a global market instantly, if you desire. You publish information to the media and your customers the moment you want it known.

Even better for you is the fact that Internet-based publications turn around a press release or story within days -- maybe even hours. Print publications, especially magazines, have lead times from one month to six months. An online magazine can get an article via e-mail and post it that day.

Ability To Self-Publish
The Internet is a self-publishing dream tool! Anyone posting a Web site is a publisher and accesses the entire globe of Internet traffic. This is the good news. The bad news is that everyone has the same ability. This creates a lot of noise, and your message can get lost or go totally unnoticed. You can't ignore the need to differentiate yourself from the crowd. And, don't forget that a third-party review by a columnist is more powerful for your credibility than a self-published piece on your Web site.

Even Playing Field
A company of any size, or even an individual, can leverage the Internet. You may have seen a comic illustration that shows one dog, who is sitting in front of and apparently working on his computer, speaking to another dog. He says, "On the Internet, they don't know you're a dog." This is especially helpful to start-ups and smaller competitors of larger organizations with big budgets. The Internet helps make the actual information and facts the focus, rather than the size of the company or the location of your office, which can give the impression of better quality or advantage.

Many companies spend lots of money with PR agencies or publicists to get that one magazine cover or feature article in a newspaper. If you're successful, it's printed and then the next day or month, it's discarded or shelved. However, on the Web, you can keep the piece 'alive' in the archives of the Web magazine and hopefully in your sites' archives too.

Reusable Content
Many times a company receives coverage in a print publication and does little with it. Some frame a copy and hang it in their office for visitors to see. Nice. Others spend some money by ordering reprints from the publisher and mailing them out (hopefully not just to their existing customer base but to fresh prospects). This is good. Even better is making the article part of your Web site. Of course, you must respect copyright privileges. Magazines may allow you to post their covers because it's marketing their publications. A hyperlink back to their site from that graphic is an enticement you might offer.

Once you have learned how to get covered in one Internet-based publication, the process is something that you can duplicate with ease. Send your press releases to your media e-mail database list. Use the same material off-line that you do online, for print opportunities.

More Frequent Publication Schedules
The nature of the Internet requires new information or data at break-neck speed. Why? Web site publishers want people to revisit their site continually. Moreover, Web publications, like portals or magazines, need quality content for their Web pages on a regular basis. For some, it's daily! You can help them fill the void that exists between their advertising and serve their readers' desire for quality information.

In Conclusion
There is nothing like leverage for squeezing more profits from every effort you make to sell your products and services. PR has always been a cost-effective and practical tool for getting increased recognition and credibility. However, by using the Internet you can easily crank up your media exposure without incurring much, if any, additional costs to your more traditional media campaigns and PR activities. So, at less cost with faster results, why wouldn't you start your Internet PR plan today?

Martin Wales, The Customer Catcher™, helps technology companies generate easy, profitable sales by "Skipping the Selling and Getting to the Sales™." Learn more from the audiotape series, Profit from PR Power: How to Successfully Sell Any Technology Using Affordable, Effective & Powerful Media Promotion. Hear PR pros reveal their step-by-step systems for building brand awareness, using affordable strategies and tactics. E-mail us today at [email protected] with "PR Power" in the subject line for your special TMC-subscriber, limited-time offer.

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