How’s your brand getting attention today?  There are in-house and external ways to beckon attention.  Seek search engine optimization information; vendors offer an array of choices, addressing technical, social, and copywriting needs.  Do you want ongoing commerce from customers once you have their immediate attention?  While SEO offers opportunities to drive traffic to your site, your company has the power to make your brand a ‘regular hangout,’ enjoying endless attention.  That’s what you want, right?

I read a Search Engine Land article this morning by Myles Anderson; he gives good ideas regarding improving local business commerce.  His notion of the death of traditional PR caught my eye.  I agree; some things have changed.  The approach has been tweaked, but the end goals of public relations initiatives remain worthy of pursuit.

Traditionally, PR initiatives spread awareness about a brand, conveying internal and external news.  That’s still highly valuable and will always be (it’s a part of ‘branding’); while SEO and online marketing get attention, relating to the public (your brand’s customers) helps maintain commerce, offering (free) marketing via word of mouth and other ways consumers communicate…like through social media.

Press Release Exposure

While a press release gets brands mentioned in several news sources, the price of ongoing releases can add up. There are alternatives.  Does your brand leverage Facebook?  CEOs and executives want press releases to get read and spark brand-associated conversations.  Brands can do that on a weekly (or more often) basis using Facebook.  Why direct fan attention toward a static page when you could direct attention toward your brand’s dynamic Facebook page?  While some platforms allow you to upload images and video along with your release (usually at an extra charge), your brand can implement all the media it desires directly on its (free) Facebook account.

While a brand can garner attention from emulating a press release from a social platform, the additional exposure a press release could attract should not be completely put to rest; additionally, getting an inbound link from a high-authority news site helps SEO.  Read this Neil Patel post on attracting authority links for additional insight.

Brand Players

PR spreads word about a brand, encompassing its services, products, and messages as well as the people behind the brand.  Is your brand introducing its team ‘players’ to its public?  Are your executives writing guest posts, speaking at conferences, and offering insight on major news stories?  Great Web sites ask for contributions all the time.  Do research in your respective industry, finding guest post opportunities.  You could find guest post opportunities using Twitter, as featured in this Ethan Lyon post.

About You

Companies use press releases to better familiarize the public with the respective brands.  This can be performed from a company blog or a dynamic ‘about us’ page.  Let’s face it; competition is fierce in all verticals.  How is your brand different?  No, not your services and products; how is your brand different than that of competitors?  I often encourage brands to make copywriting selfless, to address the consumer rather than the brand’s vanity, but the ‘about us’ sentiment is the exception.  This is where you want to sing your company’s praises, where you want your consumers to ‘get to know’ a brand’s personality and the people who comprise it.  Be genuine and transparent.  Why should consumers champion and revisit your brand?  Address those questions for them via one or a series of dynamic, ‘about us’ sentiments.  Read how transparency helped the Domino’s brand.

The culmination of the football season is knocking at this weekend’s door.  Who’s going to win the big game!?  My personal excitement is feigned; I share sentiments with another ‘Googler.’  However, I do hope your consumers view your brand as a ‘giant’ in its industry and a ‘patriot’ regarding customer service and meeting mission statements.

While brands can spend a lot of time addressing online marketing and search engine optimization needs, it’s likely the pursuit of data-driven results, bumps in rankings, and links attached to ‘coveted’ words and phrases are creating a tunnel-vision-like perception.  The irony: while your brand keeps its eyes on the ‘prize,’ the ‘views’ of others may get neglected.  Don’t forget about consumers and associated perceptions.

I watched Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday segment on an associated topic earlier today, elucidating ironically-hidden factors related to online marketing success.  I say ironic because as referenced in the opening, with so many online options, tactics, and suggested tips, a brand could invest a lot of time considering how to improve elements of marketing while forgetting about overall brand perception.

Be Who You Say You Are

I used to be a teacher of English and writing.  One of the first things I learned regarding teacher-student relations is to be who you say you are; young kids are savvy and quickly ascertain contradiction and ‘deception.’  One point raised in the Whiteboard post was ensuring your brand can ‘deliver’ on marketing promises.  This is important to consider across the board, and holds true down to the tiniest minutiae of brand sentiments.  For instance, is marketing text and links structured to render what a browser likely desires or is it somewhat (mis)leading them to some sort of brand-serving landing page?  While facilitating ‘conversions’ is at the heart of online marketing, it’s important to gain trust.  While ‘link baiting’ may produce desired results, it’s likely building sentiments of mistrust with browsers.

Building Trust

I consider ‘branding’ to be the process of creating and solidifying associations to your brand.  What comprises a brand?  I think services, products, executives, employees, behaviors, logos, slogans, just about ANY ELEMENT directly (sometimes indirectly – read how misunderstandings between an established SEO and business partners may influence future perception of the former’s brand) associated to your brand is a reflection on the brand and perceived by immediate consumers and the public at large.

How to build trust:

-          Make your team transparent.  Make executives and team members visible from your Web site and marketing material.  Don’t hide behind company logos.  I think this is especially true regarding social media.  How many brands have generic, company logos as Twitter and Facebook accounts?  I understand, you want to expose your brand, but would a person (CEO, PR rep) build more trust regarding social accounts?

-          Internal news can help build trust.  Traditionally, press releases did this in the past, but in modern times, a brand could use ongoing blog posts (ironically, less corporate brands are blogging these days) to build ongoing trust and familiarity with immediate consumers and the public.

Balance

Of course, a brand must find a fine balance, especially online.  You could be the most trustworthy, genuine brand on the planet, but if the brand is not making online strides regarding social media fans, rankings associated to keywords, and producing linkable, informative copywriting, then it’s difficult to gain exposure, attracting enough attention to build a level of ‘trust.’  However, is it easier to make ongoing progress related to online marketing and search engine optimization or build trust?  I think both are slow, methodical processes, but while a claw on the wrist by a Panda may set your site back a few initiatives a reputation is a lot harder to ‘update.’

Thanks for reading

Do you have something to add to the conversation, or just calling attention?  I would address high school students in this manner who were temporarily ‘off task’ during class.  High school students are socially savvy; most got the point and understood the difference elucidated by my question; were they serving the good of the community or engaging in personal endeavors at the moment?

Does your brand have something to add to the ‘conversation’ or just desiring attention and exposure?  The latter sentiment is shared by all brands (what brand does not want attention?!), yet the former sentiment is really the most effective means to the latter’s end.  I read a good post today on bootstrapping and brand awareness.  The author addresses ways to formulate an effective PR campaign.

Increasing PR is a lot like search engine optimization efforts.  It takes time, effort, and methodology.  While many of us know how a brand can get into trouble on the Web in its quest for better SE rankings, there are no direct ‘PR Panda’ updates;  however, calling attention without ‘adding’ is likely to leave your brand bewildered, inert, and possibly ‘blackballed’ by reporters, amongst other violations.

Update your in-house PR sentiments with these ‘PR Panda’ updates:

Update 1 – General PR Campaign – PR or Link Building?

In modern times, public relation work is a lot like link building.  In the past, what were the main goals of PR efforts?

-          Spread brand-related info

-          Gain consumer attention

-          Build brand authority

-          Attract future interest

Link building efforts, complemented by modern-day social media engagement does all of the above.  Many of the same ‘do not’ and ‘best-practice’ sentiments of link building apply to PR efforts.  Before making a PR move, think about your brand’s intentions because ulterior motives are transparent and don’t make much traction. 

Update 2 – Press Releases – Is.It.News.?

This is a bitter pill for many press-release hopefuls to swallow; is the release sharing ‘worthy’ news?  Of course, ‘worthy’ is a relative term, but think outside your brand when asking yourself this question; think like a consumer; would you be intrigued by the news?  Unfortunately, this ‘PR Panda’ update is not going to be applied by news sources; it’s going to be applied by readers (consumers) and your release’s traction (or lack thereof). 

There aren’t many obstacles obstructing a brand from orchestrating and distributing a press release to the masses; however, dispersing a release, offering very little news of value, is deserved of ‘PR Panda’ penalty and may hurt your brand’s reputation or future efforts to call attention to ‘news.’

Update 3 – Reporters – What are you doing for them?

Do you want to contact a reporter about your brand?  Ask not what this reporter can do for you, but…  I know – the irony of it all!  That’s right; if you’re going to contact a reporter, you should be contacting them because you have something for them and not vice versa.  Sure, contributing to a story or adding insight is likely to get your brand mentioned; you’ll get credit for your work. 

Are you just looking to arrive at the PR party with nothing in your brand’s hands?  You’re likely to put the kibosh on any future relations with the respective reporter (and likely their brand too).