I watched a great online marketing video last week hosted by a popular CEO.  He made excellent points throughout; yet, one message particularly hit home.  He voiced that the real problem with startups and young brands was not producing quality services and products; the real issue was marketing, gaining attention, informing people of your offered goods and services.

Traditionally, brands pursued the ‘media’ (mainly news sources) to gain exposure.  Before the boom of the Web, PR reps would pen press releases and make attempts to contact various sources, which would possibly run a related story.  That was then; things are different for modern-day PR people.  Sure, there is a lot more competition in each vertical; yet, it is easier to find and connect with news sources.

Consider implementing the following actions to build PR connections:

Twitter
Twitter never sleeps.  There are people tweeting quips and tips at all hours of day and night, making it difficult to read everything, but easy to pinpoint particular authors.  It’s common for people to include author names (sometimes praise) along with and associated URL.  I wouldn’t suggest going overboard with compliments; but, if you enjoyed reading a piece, it’s a nice sentiment for a writer to hear.

If you find an author, writing stories relatable to your vertical, endeavor at making a connection.  Twitter makes it easy to get ‘to know’ someone a bit, as users tweet about business and personal life too, giving readers an opportunity to ascertain a ‘larger picture’ regarding online personalities.

Example:  Yesterday, I read a story featuring Topps’ mobile applications.  Topps is a traditional brand trying to make an impact in a new digital market.  My boss, Ken Wisnefski, has knowledge of the baseball card industry and online marketing, potentially providing advice regarding Topps online pursuits.  If I was the PR person, I could attempt to connect with the story’s author.

Would you say you have a plethora of opportunities? "Oh, yes..."

Facebook
Facebook has been ‘around’ for some time now; but, businesspeople have really just began engaging the platform in the last couple of years, especially after introducing  brand pages.  Recently, Facebook has introduced timelines.

News sources are ready to make online impacts, much like traditional sources did in providing news for decades.  Take a gander at some popular news sources in the industry; they are trying very hard to integrate into the digital age; the brands are using social media platforms like Facebook.  Take a look at the timelines of a few.  Can you see patterns in stories covered?  What stories are receiving the most engagement by readers and social media followers?  Those are likely to be stories pursued in the near future; or, you can at least gain a ‘feel’ for what kinds of stories are ‘hot’ and ‘trending’ at the moment.

There's a story opportunity here somewhere.

Example:  Let’s take a look at the Wall Street Journal’s Facebook timeline.  I see from the timeline, the WSJ posted a video about good-guy CEOs.   I could attempt to engage the author through the WSJ page; but, it’s not as personal; I’m likely to pursue an author via their own social profile.  However, here I see the story has gotten a lot of shares, people are interested.  Could I use this information to pen a ‘hot’ story for my own online property?  Yes.  Could I proactively ‘interview’ my CEO and pitch a possible follow-up to the story’s author?  I could do that too.  The timeline gives me a lot more information than PR people had years ago before the boom of the Web.