WordPress as a Public Relations Tool

Almost every business has (or should have) a public relationships strategy.  Closely integrated with marketing, a public relations strategy addresses how the public perceives the company.  This scales with the business market.  For example, a local pizza shop needs to address how it interacts with the local community while a national corporation needs to be concerned with local communities where it operates as well as the overall public opinion in the marketplace.

What some companies still struggle with, and many have learned the hard way, is that social media and new media are an vital to a good public relations strategy.  For example, I do not go to a restaurant that doesn’t have a website.  Period.  This is not because I want to punish the for being stubborn, but because I only eat out occasionally, and I’m not about to spend my limited restaurant budget on a place who’s menu I have not vetted as appealing.

Any good public relations strategy includes multiple platforms for user interaction.  Gone are the days when a business disseminated information on their product and brand while the consumer blindly accepted it.  Here are the days of the 24-hour news cycle, interactive communications strategy, and here-today-gone-tomorrow businesses that failed to recognize the changing tide.

These examples are perhaps the most poignant example of a business’s public relations strategy dying at the hands of a fool that was given too much authority over the brand through their social media accounts.

Part of a good communications strategy is a steady, professional, interactive blog.  Blogs are no longer plain corporate web-drones, spewing press releases.  They can now be fun, engaging and huge marketing tools.  Some well-executed corporate blogs include:

Zappos

Zappos, the web’s most popular shoe store, blasts mostly deals and promotions but also funny quips and behind the scenes looks.

zappos

Starbucks

Starbucks seems to use their blog platform for social and community messages.  But let’s be real, their widely publicized “responsibility” philosophy is as much a marketing strategy as it is a corporate philanthropy move.

starbucks

Whole Foods

Whole Foods uses their blog to help consumers use (and buy more of) their products.  A nice double-feature.

wholefoods

The most successful corporate WordPress blogs have the look and feel of a personal weblog, similar to the rants and raves that some CEO’s post.  At the end of the day, the web visitor wants to feel like they got something out of their visit, similar to a visit to a bricks and mortar store.

Good WordPress PR strategy

WordPress can be a powerful tool, used for good or evil.  A solid PR strategy can catapult a business into success, or topple it from the top.  The following tips make up a solid, but not comprehensive, PR strategy when using WordPress.

  1. Respond to consumers.  Comments are worthless unless people respond.  Nothing irks me more than writing to a business and receiving no response.
  2. Be cordial, kind and humble.  In this world, the customer IS always right.  This counts extra in the web world.  I tell my parents that email and social media communications need extra courtesy, more than normal discourse.  What could be a perfectly innocent comment in real life could easily be perceived as angry or rude online.
  3. Be honest.  Applebee‘s took major social media heat after a real life problem moved into the virtual realm.  And the ding-dong running their social media strategy lied, copied/pasted and backtracked in an attempt to get control of the disaster.
  4. Offer value.  As I previously mentioned, corporate blogs that simply distribute boring news and announcements and press releases are worthless.  Blogs should be dynamic platforms for engaging with consumers.  And they should demonstrate a businesses nimble nature, writing about topical issues that relate to their brand.

What is YOUR PR strategy with WordPress?

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