Engage your Audience within Online Communities

As PR professionals, we used to spend a lot of efforts on developing good relationships with media and anxiously hope that the editor will pick our press release and make it into an inviting news story. However, we sometimes failed on being noticed, especially if you worked for a small business. In order to educate and engage your audience in a more interactive way, instead of depending on a press release it's time for you to craft your own business stories within online communities. In this post, I'd like to share with you several useful online platforms to publicize different kinds of stories and information.

1. News Websites & Blogs

CNN iReport

CNN iReport is a citizen journalism platform that allows everyone to contribute stories, pictures and videos from their own towns and neighborhoods. I would suggest exploring CNN iReport in depth if you are talented in discovering newsworthy stories in your business or industry. You can participate either by creating a story as a response to the existing topic or initiating a new discussion:

Option 1: Join the existing discussion

  • Click "Assignments" on the navigation bar on your top right hand.
  • Scroll down and pick the "Assignment Group" that matches your interests.
  • Click the "Add your story" button upon your desirable topics and start a conversation with your readers.

Option 2: Initiate a new discussion

  • Click the "upload" on the navigation bar and fill out the fields in the form.
  • Learn more writing tips on iReport.

BizSugar

BizSugar is a social bookmarking and networking site targeting small and medium-sized business owners and managers. You can submit, share and vote for your favorite business information links in the areas of marketing, finance, franchises, legal, management, news and technology. BizSugar accepts both blog posts and press releases.

  • Create an account for your team and click "submit an article" on the top of the homepage.
  • Include the unique urls of your blog posts and news articles for publishing. If readers are interested in "reading more", they will be directed to the source, which also helps to generate more traffic for your website.

SocialMedia Today

Unlike CNN iReport and BizSugar, SocialMedia Today focuses exclusively on social media. Therefore, make sure that your blog falls into this category before you submit your entry. One cool thing I found about SocialMedia Today is that it allows users to link their RSS feed of blogs with their accounts by clicking "Add a feed" under "Post on this site" on the navigation bar. In other words, whenever a new blog post is created on your own site, it will be automatically promoted on SocialMedia Today. If you want to avoid sending SocialMedia Today irrelevant posts generated on your blog, you'll want to manually upload single stories by clicking "Create a Post" under "Post on this site".

2. Showcase Your Talented Teammates

Business Journals - People on the Move

An outstanding organization is composed of a group of great team members. So don't hesitate to promote your teammates' achievements with your peers. Operated by Business Journals, People on the Move provides every business an opportunity to share stories about their company's talent, including new hires, promotions and professional awards. You are able to upload employee photos and social media profiles together with your press releases.

LinkedIn

In B2B, clients care very much about who they are or will be working with. So please remind your new employees to update their LinkedIn profile pages within or before the hiring month. This will allow them to automatically show up on the company's profile page as new hires.

3. Events

Fox6 News

Fox6 News is a good place for you to advertise community events. For example, I was recently involved in promoting a blood drive event initiated by a local non-profit organization. Fox6 News is one of the tools I used for leveraging the visibility of the cause. So if you are working for non-profit organizations, restaurants, hotels or galleries, please spread the word about your contribution to the community through Fox6 News.

  • Locate the "Events" tab on the navigation bar and then click "Add an Event"
  • Take a few minutes to fill out the events description form

Feel free to contact Chris Patterson at Chris.Patterson@fox6now.com or 414-586-2164 if you have any questions.

LinkedIn

  • By adding events on LinkedIn, click the tab "more" on the top of your profile and click "Events".
  • Tip: Don't forget to share the event and make sure it's delivered to your target groups and individuals.You might ask, "What if people miss your news feed or what if your potential leads are not on your LinkedIn network right now?" Don't worry. You can share the event any time and send it out as a message to your target audience. For those who haven't connected with you on LinkedIn, just simply add their email addresses. However, for "post to groups", you can only add the groups that you are already following.

SocialMedia Today

Events posted on SocialMedia Today should be about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging, Youtube, etc. Don't forget to double check the relevance of your event before pushing it to live.

B2B Magazine

B2B Magazine offers three different levels to promote your events: bronze (free), silver ($25) and gold ($50). If you want to link the event back to the source with a brief description, bronze sponsorship is probably not the right option for you, since it only allows you to add the name, location and the time of the events.

Tips

  • Plan ahead, especially for time sensitive events and news.
  • Only pick the tools that would reach your target audience.
  • The press release is still crucial for PR. Never underestimate the power of an outstanding press release.

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