By Gordon Maw, Maw Communications

You can’t ignore the revolution taking place in online PR. Within a lifetime’s memory, people queued in the street to buy a copy of the Daily Express because it was the biggest selling daily newspaper in the world, and the best way to find out what was going on. Today, many people are just as likely to hear about something for the first time via online social media such as Facebook or twitter. But how can organisations harness the web for PR purposes?

 Researching journalists — the web offers a range of tools for researching journalists and the things they write about. In addition to simply Googling, there are free tools such as www.journalisted.com . Journalisted is an independent, not-for-profit website built to make it easier for the public to find out more about journalists and what they write about.

 Press release distribution — there is a proliferation of online press release distribution sites on the web that can compliment your traditional distribution as well as your SEO activity. They offer a range of services, with an accompanying range of price tags per press release, designed to send your release direct to media websites in a number of different ways.

 Online research tools — there was a time when commissioning some research meant paying a fortune for a traditional research agency. Now there are a range of options from creating your own surveys online that you can send to your own database, right up to online omnibus surveys that allow you ask a sample of the UK population.

 Online journalist networking — a lot of journalists are active bloggers and twitter users and it is an increasingly common way to build relationships. Many journalists will talk about the articles they are trying to write or ask specifically for help on Twitter.

 Blogging — the reality these days is that a blog posting about your organisation can be just as likely to appear on page one of a Google search as an article about you in the FT. As a result, you have to take blogs seriously and work out how your organisation deals with them.

 Monitoring press coverage — you may not have your own press cuttings service to monitor your brand and your coverage but there are an array of powerful free tools online. Google Alert, for example, can search the internet for any relevant terms in news or blogs.

 Google - the first step for many people when checking out a company is to Google them — so your Google footprint (the first couple of pages of search results, have a huge say on your reputation. But you can influence it. Newspaper websites, Blogs, online press release distribution sites, networking sites like LinkedIn and more traditional business networks such as the Chamber of Commerce all have highly optimised web sites. That means that by working with the right sites can ensure that your news and key messages will appear high up in any search engine results page.

MAW Communications is a specialist PR agency - www.mawcomms.co.uk . Clients include Virgin, Gocompare.com, HBOS, Howes Percival, SeatChoice.com, NIG and Peace Direct.

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