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Building a More PR-Friendly Online Presence

The internet is one of the most basic tools in the modern public relations toolkit, but when building your company’s online presence, how do you attract visitors who will virtually sit back and stay awhile, visitors who might possibly even return in the near future? By focusing on the consumer. Frequent users are attracted to the web because they see it as their own personal exploration tool and want to actively contribute to the global discussion and stay ahead of the information curve. They see themselves as being in control and no longer passive. The following are three questions you should ask yourself as you try to emphasize your online presence in your public relations strategy.

THE COMMITMENT

Are you ready to make the commitment? Building an online presence into your public relations strategy can be time consuming. Taking the plunge can lead you to new heights in visitor responsiveness and will present your company in a more favorable light. But it’s probably going to take more effort.

SURVEYING THE FIELD

What are others are doing to drum up online publicity in your industry? Try to look for gaps in information and services and then try to fill in the missing links on your company’s online presence.

POPPING THE QUESTION

What does your company want to get out of an online relationship with its customers? Higher visibility? Visitor feedback? Improved corporate image? Increased publicity? Not until you decide what you want will you be able to figure out how to go about getting it.

TAKING THE PLUNGE

Now that you’ve done some soul-searching, you’re ready to figure out how you want to change your company’s online presence. Here are some ideas of what you can add to a web site to enhance your company’s public relations strategy. First, think about the site’s resources and information and consider adding the following:

— News and current information on topics related to your industry
— A high quality, up-to-date links page
— Articles and other timely materials
— E-mail updates and newsletters
— Webcasts (online press conferences and presentations)
— Archived audio/video of previous webcasts, as well as archived press releases

You might try to come up with ways to make a site more automated and interactive by adding tools such as:

— Blogs or bulletin boards that allow users to post and respond to public messages
— Newsgroups for visitors to communicate with others interested in similar topics
— Feedback mechanisms such as surveys and email forms that allow visitors to send messages to company representatives
— Personalization features that provide customized news and information delivery based on the user’s specified topics of interest

Lastly, you can add tools to a web site that will make the user’s visit much easier and more efficient, such as:

— Printable articles and press releases
— The ability to forward articles and press releases to friends or colleagues
— Provide a search engine (many popular search engines offer small search windows that you can add to your homepage)
— Interactive calculators, financial planning software, etc.
— Searchable databases that can be cross-indexed using a variety of different criteria — geographic location, topic, date, etc.

This article, written by Tracy Krughoff, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.

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