WebPR and ORM - blah blah blah conversations

Then the Talking: Getting Your Message Heard

Blogs and forums are accessible to all. This is both the root of the threat they pose to corporate reputations and the opportunity for engaging that threat. Consumer generated media must be engaged in order to:

1) Respond to others
Consumer generated media can and must be responded to. Web2.0 is based around conversations, and if a company is being talked about it belongs in that conversation. By staying informed and putting solid brand building and crisis management strategies in place, your business will not go down the route of so many companies that have lost their reputations online.

And

2) Build your own voice
Many companies already have a presence in the Web2.0 sphere. By establishing your credibility online, you are better positioned to respond to future criticism and establish long-term trusting consumer relationships through online article syndications, press releases, feature articles and blogs.

Online Article Syndication, Press Releases, Feature Articles and Blogs

Once you have listened to the online conversation taking place across the Net, you are equipped with the necessary information to actively engage in the "talking" side of the equation. WebPR collectively stands for the ways in which you can get your message out there.

Online Article Syndication

A primary tactic of WebPR is online article syndication. This means contributing articles to online article directories, from which they are picked up and republished on other sites. A few of the better directories include Ezinearticles, Goarticles and Article Alley.

Because the articles contain links and keywords relevant to your site, the benefits for Search Engine marketing are excellent. But the strategy won't work unless people want your articles - so they need to be broad, informative and not just thinly-disguised adverts. Remember, we're in the PR chapter here - not marketing.

Yet, each article will also contain an About the Author section which could contain up to three links to your site and most article directories will allow you to include a backlink in the body of the article as well.

The aim is for the article to go viral and get republished on many web and blog sites in the weeks after they are published. But to ensure your site remains the search engine authority on the article's subject, it should be published and indexed there first.

So, online article syndication not only allows you to introduce fresh, optimised content to your site but enables you to generate a type of viral backlinking occurrence as well.

Online Press Releases

The same principles apply to online press releases. Online press releases should drive traffic to your site (your website is not a fancy brochure - it is a marketing tool that needs visitors to become customers). To achieve this, press releases need to be Search Engine optimised to contain related key phrases and links.

Many journalists simply reproduce the copy of a well-written press release. It is therefore essential that press releases be optimised for keywords and links, as these will come into play for search engine marketing when the story appears online.

Feature Articles

A feature article is another vehicle that allows your brand to jump further onto the value bandwagon: offering you an opportunity to become the dominant opinion leader in your industry.

For example, if you sell holidays to Cape Town, your online marketing efforts will greatly benefit if your target market considers you a leader in this field. This is where "value-content" comes in. Articles containing information for the potential traveller are value-adding and therefore attract links naturally. And, if published on a third party site, should carry a link back to your own website. This drives site visitors who are automatically predisposed to your brand, and therefore are more likely to engage and buy your product.

Blogs

Yet another critical aspect of the "talking" side of WebPR is your voice in the blogosphere. This can take on many forms. For example, your company should have a 'blog' and your colleagues should be encouraged to blog. But perhaps more important is listening to what other bloggers say about your brand and then commenting, and responding further where appropriate. There have been numerous examples of brands cut to shreds by ignoring the blogosphere.

The key to an effective WebPR strategy is balancing the two sides: "listening" and "talking". The opportunity to pay intimate attention to the market, and participate in a conversation that drives perception - and ultimately determines your client base - is unique. It is an opportunity that consumer-facing companies simply cannot afford to ignore.

Coming soon: Chapter 11. What should you expect?

What happened when Quirk eMarketing put the largest banks in South Africa in a head-to-head battle of Online Reputations? In the next chapter, we'll be looking at this practical exercise in ORM across a sector, and asking...

  • Who came out best but more importantly - how?
  • What type of mentions had the longest-lasting impact?
  • Did the banks respond - and, if so, how successfully?
  • How can best practices in ORM be identified?

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