Online PR – Theory and Practice, Part One by Richard Hoy

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This week I’d like to kick off a two-part series on online PR. In this first part, we’ll go though the basic theory of good online PR. And in part two, we’ll discuss how you actually put the theory to practice.

I got my start in marketing as a public relations (PR) professional. PR professionals have a somewhat sinister reputation as people who “manipulate” the media by “spinning” the truth. And while it is true that some PR professionals operate this way, the fact of the matter is you can’t run a long-term PR program selling anyone shallow half-truths. The media are people, too. And, just like anyone else, they don’t like to be manipulated.

I tell you this because many people think all there is to PR is to send out lots and lots of press releases full of happy thoughts. Not true.

PR is about building a relationship with your target audiences by building a relationship with those who have influence over your target audiences.

Let’s think about that statement for a minute. In our personal lives, do we build any kind of long-term relationship with others by walking up to them and spouting “happy stories” about ourselves? No way. We build long-term relationships by being a good friend – honest, selfless and letting our true personality show through.

So the first principle in my little primer is to be a good friend by being a good source of information. People always come back to good sources of information. This is true whether you are talking about online or traditional PR. For example, we get journalists who approach us all the time for background on the epublishing industry. The reason that happens is because we give them an honest snapshot of how things are, not a hyped-up view that places Booklocker.com at the center of the epublishing universe.

Remember I wrote above that PR is about reaching the influencers – those who have influence over the target audiences you want to reach? Well, principle two is that you need to broaden your perspective of who an influencer really is.

It used to be that the only way you could cost-effectively influence a large group of people was through the media. This is why all traditional PR tactics are focused around reaching journalists. And that was the way it was for about 60 years.

Then, in the early 90’s, the Internet came on the scene. It offered a system of influencers than was independent of traditional media. Some people (including myself) made an entire career out of understanding that system of influencers and how to properly approach them. There are things not in any traditional media directory that have just as much, if not more, PR impact than getting your story in the highest-circulating newspaper in the country. There are discussion lists, email newsletters, and web sites on every subject imaginable that reach hundreds of thousands of identically-minded individuals. And the greatest thing about it is all these influencers are in one big searchable index. Finding them is within the resources of even those with the most modest budget. You just have to know where and how to look for them.

So in this week’s article, I want you to walk away with two key concepts regarding online PR:

1.) Be a good friend by being a good source of information.

2.) The Internet has its own system of influencers with as much, if not more, impact that traditional media and they are easy to find if know where and how to look for them.

Next week I’ll show you how to put these ideas into practice.

Type at you then!

Richard Hoy is the co-owner of Booklocker.com, the most author-friendly epublisher online offering up to 70% royalties on ebooks, 35% royalties on print on demand books (the highest in the industry), and non-exclusive contracts. Booklocker.com strives to help authors make money by combining epublishing with Internet marketing.