It’s becoming more competitive by the day online, making it very important that you maintain a positive brand image. What are you doing to make sure you are positioned on top in terms of reputation and appearance online?

If you said, “We do marketing,” then you are missing a major piece of the puzzle.

Yes, marketing is crucial, but public relations, or PR, is just as important, and a lot of online businesses simply are missing opportunities because it’s not a major focus. When you do PR correctly it compliments your marketing effort and can make them more effective, because it helps to position your company in front of new audiences, it builds trust, and it gives you a way to communicate with potential customers.

A lot of businesses don’t think PR matters until something bad happens. You need to think of PR as preventative brand building, rather than a solution to fix a problem. A proactive public relations effort helps to put your company name out there, and when you are creative, you can even manipulate the media in order to secure press that results in links and website traffic.

It’s time PR becomes part of your overall online marketing strategy..

So I have put together a list of eight steps you need to successfully piece together if you want to execute public relations campaign correctly.


1. First, understand how public relations is different than marketing.

Marketing is not PR, and public relations is not marketing. They are two entirely separate things, and each has different goals. PR is more of a long-term and “big picture” strategy, while marketing is more of an instant result, such as driving clicks, capturing email subscribers, or generating a conversion.

Marketing is also highly measurable, while PR is a little harder to fully measure. When you run a Facebook ad campaign or a Google AdWords PPC campaign, you can see each click, what the cost was, how many conversions you generated, and at what cost. Ultimately you get a cost for each conversion, and then you can figure out whether or not it was profitable.

PR is more of a branding play and a reputation builder. Little things that help to pain your business in a positive manner online, such as building social proof, attracting customer testimonials, associating your business name with charitable causes within the community, dropping press releases with news and announcements, etc.

One of the easiest ways to differentiate PR and marketing is how they generate sales. Marketing is done to generate sales in real-time, or at least push the customer into a sales funnel that will immediately start to push them towards a conversion action. PR is done to build trust and your name, which will eventually assist in the sales process. It’s just a little less direct than marketing.


2. Create owned media assets for your brand.

Owned media are content assets that your company creates and controls. You have full control over how they turn out, the copy, etc. More importantly, you have full control over when and how it’s distributed.

These pieces of content that you have full control over allow you to paint the picture and tell your brand’s story. There are four very popular examples of owned media that I would suggest you create and leverage:


  • Infographics: These are great assets to create for PR efforts, because they allow you to tell your brand’s story or any message for that matter, in a fun visual way. They are also much easier to get picked up and placed than a traditional press release. Websites love to publish infographics, so get creative and come up with topics that are fun and allow you to position your company as the authority.


  • Blog Content: You have to be active when it comes to content marketing, so why not create blog content that you can leverage for PR as well? Some great examples are how-to guides and very in-depth definitive guides that provide great detail. These should go above and beyond a traditional blog post to maximize their effectiveness.


  • Social Media Content: This can be anything from images to funny memes. These should be bite sized pieces of content that you can share across all social media to help build brand awareness.


  • Video Content: Video is so popular on social media today, giving you the opportunity to create little segments that feature tips, product showcases, or even company culture. There is no limit; just remember that you want to avoid content that looks like blatant advertisements. Create content that educates and informs for PR efforts. Your ads on social media for your marketing effort is where you want to use sales-heavy content.



3. Develop a paid media strategy and campaign.

This involves paying a person, website, or media outlet to showcase your content in front of their audience. It can be done in an organic way, but either way you are paying to put it out there. You do have control over the message and the content, but it comes at a direct cost.

This allows you to place your brand message in front of a highly targeted audience. While some PR ends up being a spray and pray strategy when you have less control, paid media gives you direct control over your audience targeting.

While PR that gets you on a TV program or in a magazine might be very broad, these options allow you to be very niche specific. Some examples include:


  • PPC: You can use pay-per-click ads to push traffic to content assets you create, all designed to enhance your brand’s image.


  • Paid Social Media: The same as above, except focusing on social media in order to take advantage of targeting options. Often times campaigns designed for PR can be done simultaneously with marketing efforts to first build trust and then convert.


  • Influencer Marketing: Using influencers to help introduce your brand in an organic manner is a great way to build trust, and then follow right behind with an offer. The right influencer partnerships can help break the barrier down and give you instant credibility among their audience.


  • Sponsored Blog Posts: Many blogs will allow you to post content for a price. This is a great way to put an organic feeling message in front of people that are likely to be interested in what you are selling. Use a very natural message with a subtle call-to-action at the end for the best result.


4. Get creative to attract earned media.

Earned media is out of your control, although you do have control over what you do or put out there to attract it. For example: product reviews, mentions by writers and journalists on websites, links to resources on your website, etc.

It’s important that you do everything possible to make earned media positive. For example, if you put out a low quality product or service then reviews might not be up to par. This is why quality control is so important, as is customer experiences. Bad reviews are essentially earned media as well.

If you constantly create helpful content assets, deliver a good product or service, and build relationships with media members, you will see everything begin to fall into place. While earned media cannot be purchased, it can be manipulated.

Publicity stunts can also help you score earned media. Think of ways you can stand out in a crowded market and then exploit your stunt via social media. You can also use paid media to fuel the fire, targeting media members. Sometimes you have to put the “story” right under their nose.


5. Seek out media outlets through clever inbound PR efforts.

Your traditional marketing is targeting your customers, and inbound marketing is often used to accomplish this. Well, you can use an inbound strategy to target media outlets as well. You first need to have something newsworthy to share, or you need to create something, which is often the case.

Let’s assume you are an e-commerce store that sells women’s clothes. If you made a donation to a local shelter for women, you are not only helping a deserving charitable organization, but you are setting your business up for some solid PR.

Something like this will make it much more appealing for local news outlets or industry related blogs to write about your business. While you can use press release services, you have to understand they are not targeted at all. Your best option is to reach out personally to the media outlets you want to be featured on and tell them your story. Let them know what you did and why you did it.


6. Understand how to track and measure all of your PR efforts and determine their true value.

PR results are much harder to track and measure than marketing efforts. If you run Facebook ads you can see what you spend and what that effort brings in. PR is different, though. You can’t always attribute what sales come from what PR campaign.

It’s important to have goals, and to track them, but if you expect to track every sale to a specific PR effort you will be wasting time. Instead, come up with realistic goal, whether it’s a specific number of placements and mentions or certain link acquisition goals.

I like to suggest using a combination of link goals and mentions. First, even if you can’t track dollar value for PR, if you are focused on links, such as specific DA metrics, you know that effort is going to also contribute to your SEO, so there is value regardless. You can also use tools like Mention to track how many times your business is talked about online.



7. Assign your PR campaign management to one team member and outline his or her responsibilities according to your specific goals.

PR is tricky if you don’t have a solid plan. If you are just shooting from the hip without specific strategy you will be wasting your time and money. This is why large companies hire a PR firm, but as that is not in the budget for most, it’s best to assign the role to one specific person. Even if they handle multiple roles, such as social media marketing, you want to have one person tasked with creating the plan and following it through to execution.

Everyone has to start small, so even if you have one team member writing press releases and emailing them to contacts they find, this is laying the groundwork you can build on as your business gets larger.

A lot of businesses owners I speak to say, “We can’t afford PR,” and that is the wrong approach. You cannot afford to NOT do PR. Even if it’s a small effort to start, and done yourself, put in the effort.


8. Leverage PR to attract and earn additional PR (snowball effect).

Everyone wants instant fast results. This applies to everything, such as social media followers and search engine optimization results. The truth is, things take time when you do them right.

With PR, you aren’t going to land press on the top sites right away. You need to start small (and realistically) and then leverage your success to secure additional press. For example, connect with local websites and local news outlets that will give you press because you are a local business owner. Then, use that to attract some more broad coverage in some regional publications.

Then, once your brand has an established name and some media references, leverage that to help you secure national outlets. PR required a building block approach; build a solid foundation and then continue to build slowly upwards.



Marketing and PR (public relations) are similar, but very different, and the brands that understand this are the ones that gain the most traction and momentum in the marketplace. Both are very different and each contribute to your success in their own ways.

All of the different media (paid, owned, earned, etc.) provides exposure and contributes to people recognizing your brand and then actually converting to a customer. A lot of people associate PR with getting a link on a major site, and while that is good, it doesn’t automatically translate into website traffic and sales. You need a integrate PR and marketing together, and learn how to leverage one another. They go hand in hand, and work together to help position your company ahead of the competition.

PR is something that isn’t a one and done strategy. When you understand that PR is an ongoing required effort, just like content creation and link building, then you will start to see the results that long-term strategies can deliver.

What are your thoughts on PR? Is it something you currently do or considering for the future? As competition online becomes more intense, you need to make sure you have an advantage in the marketplace. One way is to position yourself as a well-known and trustworthy brand. Media is one way, and a strategic PR campaign can help give you that credibility that consumers will trust.

Let me know what you plan on doing for PR in the coming months to prepare your online business for 2019 in the comments below.

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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