This week we attended PR NEWS' Strategic Online Communications Seminar in Washington DC along with about 60 leading PR experts. Here are the top seven "action items" we came away with that every B-to-B marketer should consider implementing:
1. Build a Database of Online Journalists Create and regularly update a database of online journalists who cover your industry. Items to detail include their regular editorial deadlines, their beat, their favorite method of communication (usually email) and notes on your last conversation. Also add key analysts and industry experts who are quoted regularly to your database so you can keep them in the loop as well. Key tip -- editors hate spam as much as the rest of us. Be sure your database can select just the names who would be most interested in your news instead of everyone.
2. Use Email Subject Lines Effectively Journalists generally get 200-300 emails a day, and don't open most of them. If your email has a subject line such as "News from X Company" it's less likely to be opened than an email with an interesting subject line that introduces the story in 10 words or less.
3. Do Not Email Press Releases as Attachments The press have learned to be very wary of opening attachments -- with good reason! Therefore, either place your release in the text of the email below your opening note and/or give links to it on your Web site.
4. Monitor Chat Rooms, Forums & Bulletin Boards Continuously keep watch at Web sites and email discussion groups where customers, investors and others might discuss your brand or company online. These include stock forums such as those at Yahoo or Motley Fool, online complaint sites such as ecomplaint.com, and product review sites such as Deja.com. If you have a high-profile name brand, consider hiring an online watchdog service such as Cyveillance or NetCurrents.
5. Write an Article or a Column Unlike traditional press, news Web sites have an almost unlimited amount of space to fill. Therefore, they are more likely to accept copy such as pre-written stories or expert columns from your company. Be sure these materials fit in with the site's editorial mission before providing them. Also, if you submit an item to more than one Web site, let them know as they may assume it's exclusive content otherwise.
6. Beef Up Your Site's Press Section Instead of just including press releases, add more useful and educational items for journalists, including - company graphics with rules for use - audio files of your CEO's speech or latest teleconference - streaming video of speeches - text from speeches - links to 3rd party sources who can comment on your company - Emergency phone and email contacts who can get a reporter a quote or information on very short notice, even outside of regular business hours. (Many online reporters are on two-hour or less lead times, and they may not always be in your time zone!)
7. Build a "Dark" Site for Crisis Response Make sure your Web site will be ready quickly the next time your company or industry has a crisis by pre-building a "dark" site which the outside world won't see until it's needed. Elements to include: a plain language backgrounder on your company, brands and industry for non-technical reporters who don't normally cover you; links to important sections of your regular site; and, links to key government agencies and analysts who routinely cover your industry.
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