smb-tech-trendsA few years ago, it was popular to herald the demise of public relations (PR) as emerging social media channels created a whole new opportunity for small and large businesses to communicate directly with customers and prospects. While it’s true that buyers are more engaged with social media than any other category of websites, according to a Nielsen study; the news media continues to be influential. In fact, in today’s information overloaded society, the value of a trusted journalist or blogger may be worth even more than it was before as consumers seek more quality reporting than they get through citizen journalists.

Even though it’s still relevant; public relations has nonetheless changed. Social media has set new expectations about the way we communicate and that includes reaching out to journalists. Here are some things to keep in mind about your small business PR program:

PR  is more casual

PR today is a lot more casual than it used to be. There are few press conferences and in-person meetings. Hard pressed journalists – many of them doing the job of more than one person and dealing with a constant stream of breaking news – have little time to get together.  A ten-minute phone call or video chat or video demo has taken the place of what was once an hour long in-person meeting.

Engage through social media

It’s also quite common for public relations professionals and marketers to engage with journalists via Twitter to either convey company information or quickly answer a question. (The use of Twitter may give you immediacy but it also means your story needs to be compelling in 140 characters or less to get a journalist’s attention.) Also the news media always is looking for story ideas. Using #hashtags for industry topics when tweeting, as well as offering insight in relevant industry groups on Facebook or LinkedIn, can be a very effective way to plant a story idea.

News On Mobile PhonePress releases are evolving

While a press release still is an important tool, it too has changed. More and more press releases are incorporating video as well as images to tell the story. Some of the wire services that distribute releases also enable you to add PDFs, whitepapers or scanned documents as part of your release and display them in a side bar to the release.

Keep in mind, however, that images and additional information still won’t get a journalist’s attention if the news is lacking or uninteresting. When you are crafting the release, consider your target and what will be of interest to them or to the industry they are covering. Avoid marketing jargon – groundbreaking, trendsetting – and be specific in explaining how your announcement makes a difference.

The tools may have changed, but the goal of public relations today is no different than it was in the past. PR is about building relationships and trust and providing useful information. Journalists will always pick up the phone, reply to an email or respond to a tweet when you do.

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