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    The Internet has revolutionized the marketing world.  In fact, online marketing initiatives are arguably more powerful and affordable than traditional advertising strategies because of the wider reach the Internet offers.  Not everyone watches the same television or reads certain publications, so marketing towards traditional media forms exclusively can cost companies thousands (if not more) in potential lost revenues.

    One of the most popular online marketing strategies is utilizing online distribution for articles and press releases.  Just a few of the benefits of online article and press release distribution include:

    1.  Spending much less than on traditional radio, television or print advertising.  Internet marketing, while still competitive, is much more affordable than traditional media advertising (probably in large part because print and broadcast media have been steadily losing advertisers for the past several years, and they have to make up for that by charging more for the space and time they do sell).

    2.  Reaching an immediate audience. The Internet is immediate so the second you release an item for publication, it’s already attracting your target audience.  Even better is that your audience could be in the millions, simply because you’re not just targeting a small group in a specific demographic, but anyone in the world who is interested in your product/services/area of expertise.  Potential buyers seek you out through a “pull” strategy as opposed to the traditional “pushing” of a message.

    3.  Establishing your name as an industry expert. The Internet has given anyone the power to be an instant author AND gain credibility as an expert, and publication is often as quick as pressing a submit button.  If you can reach reputable sites or establish a respected blog, you can instantly boost your industry credentials.

    By Woody Stoudemire

    Charles Stewart Contract, a long-time X-Factor public relations client, hired us to compose a case study regarding a recent project.

    A case study is a detailed account of a company, person or project over a given period of time. It describes a problem or challenge that a company may have faced, and their process for solving the problem.

    The Charles Stewart Contract case study was used to showcase their clients’ need for a specific product, and the company’s ability to meet that need. Through targeted media distribution, the Charles Stewart Contract case study has been featured in several furniture publications to date, as well as through online media (Yahoo News, PR Web, etc.).

    Distributing case studies using both online and traditional media, as well as posting it on the website, allows readers to easily locate it not only through traditional means, but also on the Internet. Remember, when creating case studies, it is important to optimize copy for search using targeted keywords.
    Why are case studies valuable? They provide readers with the opportunity to identify with the company, review a challenge that the company faced and their strategy for creating a solution. It allows readers to review management decisions, strategies, challenges, recommendations, etc. It builds credibility for your company, spotlights valued customers in a flattering light and can position you as an expert in the industry.

    You tackle challenges every day. What have you learned that can benefit others?

    Two distinct disciplines, two distinct definitions, one age-old debate. No, we’re not talking about butter and margarine.

    What is the difference between public relations and advertising? Here is one of the most basic explanations you’ll ever find:

    Public Relations is what others communicate about you, your business, your client, etc. Advertising is what you communicate.

    Both can play critical roles in your business’ strategic marketing communications. There are two key factors to consider in evaluating the differences: Control and credibility.

    Let’s explore these concepts as they apply to each discipline:

    Defining Advertising
    “Knowledge is power,” as the saying goes, and with advertising you have power over the message (knowledge) that’s distributed to your existing and potential clients. You can create and control the brand of your business.

    Take a moment and think of the “leaders” in an industry, say apparel or manufacturing.
    How many of the businesses that come to mind have you seen advertising? My guess would be the majority of them.

    That’s because successful ad campaigns help establish a brand identity (and hopefully preference) through repetition. Have you ever seen a commercial just once?

    The most effective advertisements are the ones that are relevant, concise and creative. Your clients are bombarded with messages around the clock, from billboards and brochures to pop-ups and print ads. Your business needs to stand out in a crowd.

    Today’s successful marketing experts are augmenting the control they have in advertising with the credibility of public relations and search engine marketing and optimization to the tune of improved visibility and increased revenues.

    Relating to Your Public
    Public relations is a broad term, often misused as an all-encompassing expression for anything related to marketing and advertising. The roots of effective PR are storytelling and relationships – think Public Relationships.

    The goal of public relations is not to force feed your messages or services, but rather to make them available to your existing/potential clients in a manner and form they wish to receive them. In doing so, your messages and services will come across as authentic and credible.

    Public relations is a conversation, and as with any conversation, it can take place through word of mouth, news stories, gatherings and events, and much more. Information is always more believable when you know and trust the source.

    Increasingly today, the conversation is taking place on the internet. Social media web sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube, in addition to dynamic company websites, are the new venues for B2B communication. You have a golden opportunity to establish an ongoing dialogue with your clients through these media.

    As with any conversation and relationship, trust is paramount to credibility. Don’t thrust your business into the conversation like the employee who’s had one too many drinks at the company party – who believes that guy? Mosey up to the crowd you want to talk to and make your business available for conversation. How do you do that?

    Introduce yourself (advertising) and engage your business in the conversation (effective public relations, Internet marketing and website optimization).

    Association of National Advertisers
    Public Relations Society of America

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