Hiring an Online Publicist- What You NEED to Know to Protect Your Reputation and Your Budget!

hiring.jpgIf you are considering online promotion, this is the most important article you will ever read. I know this sounds a bit presumptuous and I apologize.  However, we are hearing the same stories over and over again from our prospective clients and we feel it is time to help educate and to protect you from the various scams and blatant dishonesty that takes place daily as more and more companies try to take advantage of the growing demand for online PR services.

Let me clarify that have we been in business since 1999 and have helped hundreds of experts and corporations grow their businesses, using the fastest growing and most effective way to build your brand available today…the Internet. Based on our experience and the overwhelming numbers of disreputable operations that exist, we have learned some crucial points about protecting your interests. We want to share those with you. There is one distinction that you need to make right off the top. If your goal is to be an expert and to maintain a prominent position within websites of your choice, then you are an expert or contributor. Any company who offers you article syndication is NOT what you are looking for.

Here are some of the critical ways you can avoid being taken advantage of and avoid losing precious ground in your media campaign.

1.    If it sounds too good to be true…it is. Beware of any company who makes extreme claims. We often help with damage control when clients have been taken in by the most abused claim heard today…”we can submit your content to 100 sites or more…” Simply put, there are not that many credible websites on which to place your content. This is a red flag. A credible online publicist knows that real success comes in working with the best 10-20 sites and making those placements count.

2.    Don’t confuse an online publicist with a traditional publicist. There is a huge difference between an online publicist who has dozens of relationships with websites who rely on them for experts and a publicist who simply submits a single article or excerpt blindly. It does not make any difference if the publicist is new and inexperienced, or the most reputable publicist in the country. Neither will have the loyal and time honored relationships necessary to create the ongoing and increasingly prominent placements you seek. These results come from online publicists who know how to present to this medium and how to maximize the promotional support the site can offer in a timely way.

3.    Avoid anyone who offers a “quick slam” campaign. You can’t possibly receive any real value from placing one or two articles on any site, regardless of their size. Credible online campaigns only work when your needs are evaluated, appropriate websites are targeted and your submissions ultimately result in a relationship with those destinations that last over months or even years. Learn the difference between throwing content out into the Internet and carefully choosing how and where your content is placed. Once content is out there, you can not get it back. There are always risks when you place your content on the Internet, however there are firms who know exactly how to protect you when it comes to minimizing the risks

4.    Choose an online publicist based on their contacts and experience. A credible online publicist has active relationships with editors of the sites on which you want to place your content. Blind submissions are not typically accepted, and in fact, these kinds of submissions are considered spam and can destroy your credibility and overall campaign objectives. Once that occurs you will not be able to get back into the editors’ radar unless you are working with someone who has those relationships in place and can repair the damage done.

5.    Choose a publicist who knows how to secure fast and prominent placement. There are unique and rigid factors that are presented to an online editor in order to get prominent exposure on your targeted websites. Only work with a publicist who knows this process well.

6.    Find a publicist who guarantees their placements. An instant red flag is when you are promised certain results with no guarantee in place. Credible publicists can and do guarantee their placements. Accountable publicists who value your business track your results and only promise what they can and will deliver.

7.    Work with publicists who are taking your entire campaign into consideration. A single placement on the wrong site or presented in the wrong way can destroy your potential placements for both online and traditional media. Be sure you are working with people who have your entire campaign goals in place and only pursue opportunities that will enhance those objectives and not hinder them. An experienced online publicist will know everything necessary to secure prominent ongoing positions for you including how to assess your website, how to increase your search engine rankings and how to format your content. Online PR involves all of these components. Only work with someone who has proven knowledge and experience in all of these areas. If your publicist can’t discuss anything beyond submitting an article, run for your life.

8.    Choose an online publicist who provides stringent follow up. Once you paid for your content to be submitted, it is crucial to conduct proper follow up. If no follow up occurs to determine if the articles were placed, how and where they were used or whether the site would like more content from you, the submission is ultimately worthless and without value. Many so called “publicists” will be more than happy to arrange this for you. And beware, some of these individuals many appear to be very notable experts in the PR field. Do your diligence and decide if they are truly the best person for this form of campaign. Not everyone becomes a well known expert based on ethical business practices.

9.    Credible publicists create partnerships between you and online editors. Your publicist should be creating a variety of content features and opportunities for you. They can match what you have to offer with the needs of the sites, creating new and original features for the site that you will fill.  This will result in ongoing leads that will be sent to you from the editors on an ongoing basis as well as acceptance from the sites for new content you wish to contribute. A successful online outreach should result in many new opportunities well beyond the original presentation.

10.    Avoid the “cookie-cutter” approach. A reputable publicist will customize their campaign objectives and their fees to your individual needs. All clients come to a promotional campaign with a wide variety of needs. While some approaches may work for several clients, beware of any publicist who is not willing to be flexible when it comes to the goals of the campaign, the time involved and the fees to be assessed. You, the client, should feel like this person has your very best interests at heart and that you can trust that they are just as invested in your results as you are. Your publicist is not someone you hire, it is someone who is invited to be part of your team and your success. Make that the most important component in your decision making process and you can’t lose.

Copyright 2006 Anne Leedom. Anne Leedom created Net Connect Publicity in 1999. Utilizing a degree in Journalism, a background in sales, and a passion for parenting, Anne developed her current expertise in working with authors in the parenting, health and spirituality fields to develop their Internet publicity campaigns. Anne has created campaigns for such authors and experts as Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Dr. Michele Borba, Joan Borysenko, Armin Brott and Academy Award Nominee Diane Ladd. Working as a passionate advocate on behalf of her clients, Anne creates powerful results that have become a trademark of Net Connect Publicity. For more information visit www.netconnectpublicity.com.