One of cheapest ways to market your business is to take advantage of many opportunities that exist for free or low cost public relations. The exponential growth of Internet provides constantly expanding virtual public relations resources.
So how can you capitalize on it? First, let's be clear. This can make a tangible difference to your business. I recently wrote to excellent e-mail discussion "SpeakerNet", asking for experiences about use of Web sites for marketing. Here are some of comments that I received about public relations aspect:
"My Web site has allowed my articles to be published in many national magazines, such as Presentations, T&D, numerous newspapers and industry publications. My free articles have are downloaded by over 50,000 people each year from over 60 countries." - Lenny Laskowski, http://www.ljlseminars.com/
Richard Thieme's site, at:http://www.thiemeworks.com/ has received numerous awards, including both a "Hot Site of Day," and a "Cool Site of Day" from USA Today. Readers forward Richard's weekly column, "Islands in Clickstream," to numerous friends and other online discussion groups. Richard receives frequent requests from many different countries to republish column, for which he charges a reprint fee. So, although his original articles are available for free via his Web site, they are highly leveraged into other media, and speaking engagements.
Hopefully now you are inspired to look for free PR opportunities, and ready for some practical tips.
Integrating your PR message
One key factor is that your total message and corporate image should be consistent both in real world and online. Used effectively, public relations activities in traditional media can draw traffic to your Web site, and conversely, articles on your Web site can generate business. Jesse Weeks told me: "For each article I print, at least one inquiry for services results, often many."
Therefore a cardinal rule is to keep look and feel of your Web site in line with your printed materials. Your Web site is your online press kit. As David Arnold says: "I have my company logo is prominently featured both on my Web site and printed materials. As soon as my package arrives meeting planners connect it with my site, and that in turn reminds them of our phone conversation, reducing common "Hmmm, who's this from?" or "Gee, where have I heard this name before?"
Promote your articles!
If you have any published articles, (or even unpublished ones), consider putting each one on a separate page of your Web site. This has several advantages:
* it plays to Web philosophy that "content is king", and showcases your expertise and breadth of your knowledge
* you can construct keywords and descriptions specifically for each article, and promote them individually in search engines. This allows you to further differentiate yourself, and significantly improves your chances of being found online.
For example, I recently discovered from my access logs that my Web site was receiving many hits from Sweden. I checked all Web sites that currently link to mine (which I had neglected to do for a while), and discovered that an article I had written about effective online research techniques was being cited as a resource for a course at University of Uppsala!
Searching for Web links can be done in Alta Vista by entering link:yourdomain in search box, e.g. link:CyberSpeaker.com
I have noticed that a number of Web sites state that visitors may request articles that are not immediately available. For reasons explained above, I am not sure that this is best tactic. It may be a great way to get leads and build a mailing list, but it doesn't help your visibility.
And while we're on this subject, don't just put plain text into your site exactly as it is on paper. The article should be formatted so that it reads well on screen, and has good navigation both within page, and back to other areas of your site.
Online press releases
There are ever expanding numbers of newspapers, newsletters, and e-zines (electronic magazines) online, and also reporters looking for stories. Since Web sites have to be constantly updated (even more than in real world), they are hungry for your news!