Public relations has always been all about “the Rolodex.” PR old salts have amassed a Rolodex full of important contacts while newbies struggle to do the same. But nowadays, Rolodexes are more than a jealously guarded little box of file cards. They are, due to sites like LinkedIn, public knowledge. And in an industry that puts a lot of emphasis on “who you know,” sites like LinkedIn have become invaluable.
Here are just a few ways PR pros are using LinkedIn to get ahead:
Publicize Your Company – LinkedIn broadcasts that over 60 million professionals use the service. Not only do they use it for keeping in touch, they use it to find jobs and research companies. Be sure to stake out your company’s LinkedIn page and use this opportunity for some positive PR.
Snag Better SEO – The other big reason to stake out your company’s Linkedin page? SEO. As a popular site with a Google PageRank of 9, your LinkedIn page will likely pop up near the top of the results list when someone searches your company. This is all the more reason to create a snappy LinkedIn profile for your company or your clients’ companies. Include any outside websites and blogs in your LinkedIn profile, too. These can also drive traffic to your site and increase its ranking on the search engines.
Answer Questions and Influence People – People across many industries use the LinkedIn Answers feature to share their knowledge or perform their own research. It works like this: a LinkedIn user asks a question in categories such as Startups, Taxes, Marketing, or, of course, Public Relations. A PR pro can then encourage her clients to knowledgeably answer questions pertaining to their specific fields. Or, if the PR pro is looking for a job or new clients, she can put forth her own expertise in PR and perhaps make a new, lucrative contact. Either way, answering questions on LinkedIn gets a PR pro or her client and their expert knowledge in front of a captive audience, increasing their cachet as an experts.
Create a LinkedIn Group – PR pros are always looking for ways to create dialogue between their clients and their clients’ target audiences. LinkedIn groups are an easy way to share information, start conversations, and make new connections. Because they use the LinkedIn platform they do not require any technical maintenance, and they have a built in captive audience of business professionals. This can be especially useful for business to business services who want to connect with the serious professionals that make up LinkedIn’s user base.
Get a Job in PR – When potential employers check out your social media accounts – and rest assured most of them will – they will be impressed to see that you are “LinkedIn” with movers and shakers, reporters, and other important people in your industry or specialty. In fact, in an industry where personal contacts can get you everywhere, the job candidate with a LinkedIn full of important contacts already has an advantage over the novice LinkedIn user with a mere nine connections. Further, a personal LinkedIn page increases your own name’s SEO. Are you looking for a job in a certain field? Pepper your profile with keywords from that field to make your profile easier to find and hard to ignore.
As more and more people embrace social media, they also embrace new and creative ways to connect. Follow the above five tips to make the most of LinkedIn as a PR tool, and don’t be afraid to invent new ways to connect, too.