By Louise Stewart-Muir, Joint Managing Director, Say Communications

With the prevalence of the internet in all areas of our lives, it seems strange to be having to make the case for the value of online PR (Public Relations). Yet so many people still seem to irrationally prioritise seeing their name in print over positive coverage online.

In reality, online PR is one additional channel that when correctly harnessed will help you to achieve your business goals. A positive reference from an authoritative 3rd party source is a tremendous asset and can significantly impact on your reputation and bottom line, regardless of the medium through which it appears. However, online PR holds a number of advantages over its traditional counterpart that has fast made it the number one tool in your communications armoury.

The most important benefit of online coverage is it tends to deliver a far higher return on investment.

Print publications tend to have a long lead time and a short shelf life but a positive story that is published online is both immediate and permanent. Consequently, the time and effort that is spent researching, writing and pitching a press release continues to pay dividends for a far greater period of time.

Furthermore, depending on the nature of your business, your website acts as your shop window or even your sales floor. A steady stream of online coverage will dramatically boost your visibility in search engines and drive extra traffic to your website. Free online tools such as Google Analytics even allow you to track how people have come to your website, thereby allowing you to measure the success of your PR efforts and justify your spend.

Online PR is fast becoming the most important medium in the PR toolkit but don’t be fooled by those claiming it is anything other than a new channel to reach your target audience and change suspects into prospects, prospects into clients. As with any other form of communications content is king. The best PR activities have always been about conducting two-way conversations between an organisation and its publics. Newswires, blogs, video and social networking sites have all provided new platforms through which these conversations can take place. But remember, it’s not about distributing semi relevant information, content needs to be well written, on message, highly relevant and targeted.

Louise Stewart-Muir is Joint Managing Director at Say Communications, an award-winning communications agency serving clients in the UK and international. www.saycomms.co.uk or www.twitter.com/louisesmuir

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