Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Beginner’s Guide to Public Relations

Public RelationsPublic relations has always been important for small and large businesses alike – without a solid ground game through which you can cultivate a positive attitude about your company or brand, you risk letting your competitors define you. In an increasingly mobile and technology-filled world, having a public relations campaign for your website and online presence is just as important as it is having one for a brick and mortar institution. For those seeking to improve their online public relations, continue reading to find out what the process entails and how you can form a successful campaign with minimal resistance.
What Is PR?
While many web enthusiasts think of ‘PR’ as being PageRank, PR also means public relations, and affects every aspect of your marketing, traffic and sales. Many utilize PR as a way to increase free exposure for their company through other outlets, such as newspaper, radio, blogs and television. The goal of PR is to enhance the level of exposure your business receives while also framing it in a positive light. By pinging a website or business’ best characteristics to the rest of the world, you can slowly but surely develop a PR campaign that relies on viral content, word of mouth and first impressions.
Public Relations for SEO
A detail oriented public relations campaign can do remarkable things for your organic search engine rankings on Google and other search engines. Studies have shown that well thought-out press releases and announcements that are search engine optimized can bring a load of benefits for your site in the short, medium and long-term. This gives you not just an opportunity to plug your business or website and showcase its positive attributes, but can also give you an extra opportunity to improve your search rankings by pinging a website’s basic information, keywords and new offerings all in one press release. Syndication of such press releases by other sources only add more clout to your SEO and PR strategy.
Contacting News Outlets
Most local news affiliates and newspapers love to offer publicity to businesses that have an interesting angle to cover. If you are the founder or current CEO of a company, it is vital that you make the initial contact, as reporters and editors are far more likely to be receptive to an angle pitched by the company’s chief than by a social media developer or contracted firm. In any email or personal conversation, you will want to showcase why the outlet in question should cover your business and be sure to include a general press release covering the event or promotion for which you are attempting to gain attention.
By developing a strong writing technique with which you can distribute effective press releases, combining the approach with elements of search engine optimization, reaching out to interested parties through social media and also contacting traditional news sources for potential coverage, you can begin to put into place the foundational blocks of a strong public relations campaign. While it will certainly take dedication and time to achieve the best results, following this advice will help steer you in the right direction.

Five Great Ways to Get Customer Feedback

Customer FeedbackHaving a lifeline with your customers is vital in order to maintain a good relationship with them. Many times, we will hear from customers when something is blatantly wrong, but in many cases, marginally dissatisfied customers do not speak up; they instead vow never to give you return business and may spread their dissatisfaction via word of mouth. When you open multiple avenues for dialog and proactively encourage individuals to comment, you can help reduce the rate of this occurring. Below are five great ways in which you can encourage your customers to leave feedback, helping you manage your business more effectively.
Offer Contact Forms
Whenever your customers place an order, do they have a way to leave you feedback anonymously after the transaction has been completed? By implementing a program that can handle these submissions (a ticket management program is the best option for pinging servers with these comments when there is a high amount of traffic), you can provide a personalized approach to each customer’s comments and concerns.
Provide Forums for Discussion
While some businesses are weary to provide a public outlet for consumers to discuss their products’ disadvantages, having a place where problems can be discussed shows customers that you do in fact care and are taking proactive steps to rectify any issues they may have. By being attentive, polite and giving leeway when there is the option of doing so, many irate customers can be flipped into return business – if the problems are handled in the right way.
Send Out Surveys
Whenever a customer buys a product from you, do you provide them with a survey or questionnaire that asks them to report their feelings on the product and overall transaction? If not, you are missing out on valuable feedback. Whether it is in paper form in a brick-and-mortar institution or online and through email, always be sure to solicit responses from every single customer. By having the largest pool of feedback possible, you will be sure to get an accurate representation of how your customer base feels.
Setup Live Chat
If you are constantly involved with your business throughout the day, then setting up a live chat option is yet another way you can provide an outlet for consumers to inquire, complain or just get a feel for the product before they make a commitment. Rather than pinging servers on your own domain with added demand, you also have the option to acquire live chat services for a relatively inexpensive rate from a slew of international companies that provide the service – leaving you free to do other things.
Utilize Social Networks
Finally, the use of social media to handle comments is a great way to gain customer feedback and will be used by customers if promoted. Since many users are already on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms, it is very simple to convince them to communicate with you via the page in question. In many ways, this can be a two-fold benefit: some will end up liking your page as they come to leave comments, which will result in them receiving future updates from you in their status feeds.