Taking its roots from the online diary, blogs have grown to become a critical component of the social media landscape. In recent years, blogging is increasingly being used a public relations tool for news and media outlets. A 2008 survey conducted by Brodeur found that over three-quarters of reporters say that they consult blogs for story ideas, while 51 percent also admit to bloggers' opinions influencing the editorial direction of journalists' own news articles.
How the Media Uses Blogs
The Brodeur survey also revealed that about 70 percent of reporters said they read blogs on a regular basis, and, almost 21 percent said they spend more than an hour a day reading blogs. More than 61 percent of journalists surveyed said they believed blogs to have a significant impact on the tone of news reporting.
Collectively, this data reinforces the fact that blogging is a powerful communications vehicle, that, if viewed by the right people, can help one cast a much wider net, reaching the international audience of the blogosphere. In other words, if you blog, your ideas or products have a greater chance of being 'heard' and seen.
How to Start Blogging for Public Relations
One should recognize the difference between blogging for public relations and blogging for friends and family, the latter of which might include sharing special events in your life or your personal opinions about the news. The key to using blogging as an effective PR tool is to focus on providing content that is of value to your audience. Building a strong readership lies in providing specific information that your readers need and might not be able to find anywhere else. This also includes cultivating active conversations with your audience, weighing their ideas, and leading a discussion that will ultimately unearth a wealth of insights that an entire community can benefit from.
Further, using blogging as part of your public relations strategy is really all about establishing yourself as an expert in your field. The more you write about whatever topic your business is related to, the higher your site will rank on search engines, which lends itself to building more credibility. These factors increase the likelihood that a member of the media looking to write a story about your topic will rely on you as a source.
Tips for PR Blogging
When you are blogging for public relations, you need to build a good and steady source of traffic to your blog. The way to do this is to post information that is keyword rich, valuable, unique and frequent.
Let's look at each of those aspects individually so we can see how they fit together.
- Keyword rich: Think about the words that people would type into a search engine if they were looking for a Web site like yours. For instance, if your blog is about gardening in the shade, people might type in shade gardening, shade garden, low-light gardening and so on. You want to use these search terms liberally (but not too excessively) on your site.
- Valuable: Your content must be valuable to the reader in order for him or her to keep coming back. Don't just tell part of the story; give them everything they need to know.
- Unique: This of course ties into being valuable-you need to provide content that's not like everything else that's out there on the web. If we go back to shade gardening, for instance, most people who are interested in this topic know ferns and hostas are popular shady choices. Add to the discussion by taking your site in a different direction, such as writing about shade gardens in a certain region of the country or shade gardening in low-water areas.
- Frequent: Post something every day if you can. If not, try for every other day. You definitely don't want to go longer than a week between postings. People won't remember to check your site for updates if they get used to not seeing anything new, and you'll rank higher on the search engines if you post frequently.
This powerful combination will help you maximize the visibility, reach, and exposure of your blog, while also establishing your expertise in your field.