You can't be in PR today and ignore the facts.
Fact one: hard copy publications are online, or have moved exclusively online.
Fact two: media companies are consolidating.
Fact three: new media is here to stay and is quickly becoming a leading outlet for telling your story.
Everyone is blogging. Search engine optimization (SEO) is common place in the corporate world and you can't turn around without hearing something about YouTube or MySpace. A strong social media strategy can really set your company apart from the competition and extend your business' thought leadership outreach and touch a broader audience. Public relations professionals can help their companies or clients navigate these new waters.
First, let's address blogging. Technorati.com, one of the largest search engines for blogs, is currently tracking 75 million blogs with 175,000 new blogs being created daily. Blogging has become mainstream and it's here to stay. Heck, there are blogs written by grandmothers to Godzilla fans, but the question is, what does this mean to PR? The answer: everything!
Blogging is the great equalizer as more people are getting information from these citizen journalists-the key as a PR executive is to cut through the clutter and make sure you are reaching those legitimate blogs to bring your client the added value that can come from these outlets.
Another role of your PR team is to ensure that your corporate blog remains relevant, avoids hype, addresses market trends (not your products), and is continually being linked to other influential blogs in your online community. Lastly, and most importantly, when creating a corporate blog-make sure you are doing it for the right reasons; don't just jump on the bandwagon, think it out. It will pay off in the long run.
A second step to a winning social media strategy is podcasting. According to InfoWorld research, it is the "second favorite way" for people (including decision makers) to receive information-next to print publications.
Podcasting offers controlled production and messaging. It's inexpensive and excellent for promoting a problem and evangelizing the solution. And finally, it's measurable. You can easily tell how many people are downloading your podcast. Your PR firm should help you identify opportunities to partner with key outlets and industry partners to develop a podcast as well as assist you in the development of content.
In addition to blogging and podcasting, it is important to utilize other social media outlets, including SEO, webinars, webcasts, RSS news feeds and even YouTube and MySpace. Your PR team will work with you to capitalize on these new media outlets to maximize their effectiveness for your company.
At the end of the day, the key to a strong social media strategy is to think it through, avoid hype, stay honest, and never try to represent something you/your company is not. Remember, you are dealing with a group of people that can see astroturf from a mile away ... so stay REAL!
This article was written by Joanna Kulesa is president of Kulesa Public Relations, a boutique high-technology PR agency based in the heart of Silicon Valley. It originally appeared in the All About Public Relations Web site.