10 Components of Online Public Relations

The expansion of public relations into the online arena is essential, both for PR pros and clients who hire them. Public relations is broadly defined as “unpaid publicity,” setting it apart from advertising, or “paid publicity.” Thus, Internet ads, including programs such as AdWords, should be left to advertisers. However, many online activities are available at no cost and require original vendor-neutral content. Therefore, they can properly be undertaken by a public relations agency.

1) Blogs

Collections of short entries with a common theme, blogs provide original thoughts by the client and are often written or edited by a public relations professional. They should reside on the client’s website, contain contributions of 200-300 words, and be posted at least once a week.

2) Email marketing

The purview of programs such as Constant Contact or Mail Chimp, email marketing consists of a customized template with article snippets and an optional link, “click here to read more.” The link will drive the reader to the client’s website and thus increase traffic. Email newsletters are also useful in reminding prospects of your services by showing up in their email box every other month.

3) Social media

The “sexiest” element of online PR, social media gives the opportunity for visitors to post their thoughts and links to interesting articles, with the option of commenting on posts left by others, known as followers, connections, etc. The big three: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter should not be neglected, but social media is constantly evolving. Pinterest was all the rage for a while and more recently, Instagram has taken its place.

4) Website development

Creating new web pages is relatively easy to learn, and you can then use FTP programs to upload, download and edit pages at no cost. The ability to create new pages is essential for a client’s website to remain dynamic, react to recent developments in its field and stay ahead of the competition.

5) Media room

A media room gathers all the publicity about your client in one section of its website. It should contain categories such as press releases, email newsletters and bylined articles with a landing page for each one, a list of the publicity achieved and a link to the full document. A media room will grow as the public relations professional achieves publicity for its client.

6) Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization or SEO requires the creation of original content and increasing the number of inbound links going to the client’s website. Inbound links are simply clickable text on other sites pointing to your own. Google uses this parameter as a primary element in determining the ranking of websites.

7) Keyword research

Keyword research provides critical information in determining website content. You must find out what keywords or short phrases your clients’ potential customers are using when they are looking to purchase their product. Then, you can optimize for those keywords by including them in the clients’ website and “meta tags.”

8) Article marketing

Article marketing involves the creation of bylined documents and then posting them on “content provision sites.” These sites provide material for their visitors, but anyone publishing them must include the URL to your client’s (author’s) site, thus creating an inbound link and improving SEO.

9) Graphic design

Typically outsourced in traditional public relations, elementary graphic design such as cropping and resizing images is essential for website content and email templates.

10) Integrated communications

The ability to combine all the elements above, re-using content where appropriate (depending on copyright permissions), and using them in tandem with traditional PR, is essential to garner the maximum benefit from an overall public relations program.