Why do we care?
The art of PR has changed over the last few years. PR was traditionally seen as something that only Corporates can afford. It may require robust corporate messaging and PR professionals (i.e people who are comfortable picking up the phone from journalists). More and more smaller companies have been using online PR (digg, Facebook, Twitter etc.) to generate some buzz and customer engagement vis-a-vis their brand. Social media by definition is PR.
Social media can only be earned
What we tend to forget is getting customers to talk about your brand is not easy to achieve. It's one thing creating a Facebook page or a Twitter account. It's another one to get customers excited about your product and ultimately generate this buzz on your behalf. It is even more difficult to tie this back to your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts. These backlinks from your more loyal brand supporters are hard to earn. Particularly if what you offer is not really sexy and /or tend to be oriented towards companies.
Alternative tools to boost SEO
Back to my discussion with BusinessWire, I have found they offer a decent set of tools to create a comprehensive list of backlinks to your web site at a reasonable cost. They recently launched a new product called Enhanced Online News (EON). EON is an online platform where companies form all sizes can submit press releases to maximize SEO coverage.
This means small and medium companies can quickly post press releases that will be distributed to the BusinessWire network for a nominal fee. To ensure strong SEO results:
1) The press release title should be short with all keywords included at the beginning of the title
2) Targeted keywords in the release should be repeated a few times in the release description (just after the title). The tool then adds targeted keyword into the meta tags of the page. This is only available for the title meta tag for now, not keyword tags yet.
3) Companies should take advantage of the free banner area at the bottom of the page to include screenshot of the company web site or even banners
What I like most about this tool is it identifies two or three quotes from the release and alternates them on top of the release, so that crawlers always find something new to look at.
More editorial tips are included on the EON portal.
To me, this seems to be a good option to create backlinks in a short period of time at a reasonable cost.
If you have had experience using that tool, I would be curious to find out whether it worked or has not worked for you.