Our guest blogger Murry Shohat is back with the final installment in the series, Understanding Publicity.
Websites are dynamic, living things. They breathe (or they should). A static website that rarely changes or fails to regularly add content is like a store with goods on display but no employees to transact business. One good way to add life to your website is through publicity. This part of my series tells you how to get publicity and what to do with it to keep your website breathing.
In Part 1, I said that with advertising, you pay for space and time. With publicity, you mostly PRAY for space and time. The reason is simple: there’s a church/state separation or wall between them in western journalism. You can buy ads but you can’t buy a news story. You can pay for a TV or radio commercial but you can’t throw dollars at a reporter for coverage, not in any media that’ll help your business.
Then in Part 2 we dove into the four “W’s” of web-centric publicity: who, what, why and when, with a little explanation of how. Part 3 will now detail HOW to pray for publicity and HOW to use the publicity to keep your company website fresh and dynamic. Done consistently and properly, publicity can be the engine that drives repeat business as well as new business for you.
For many if not all companies – regardless of the products or services they provide – it’s a misconception to think of web site creation as a one-time effort. A web site is a selling machine. Like a physical store, a web site needs staff and support. You would not open a store and then fail to staff it. Starting a website but failing to maintain it over time makes no sense.
The key to figuring out what to do with a website is information. In a physical store, inventory is purchased, displayed, advertised and promoted in the hope that consumers will wander into (or be drawn into) the store. Once inside, the customer will shop. Applied to a website, shopping takes on a whole new meaning since increasingly savvy customers have learned to expect shopping tools. These tools search the available information or data included in the site structure and quite literally deliver desired results to the eyeballs of the consumer. There is no need to prowl (browse) aisles, racks and shelves to locate sought-after items. And other tools allow quick check out, another key benefit of on-line shopping.
Of course, if your business is service oriented – maybe you are the dentist portrayed in Part 2 of this series – the purpose of your website is not shopping. It’s confidence building through the sharing of information. Yet, the expectation is the same as the retailer. You want site visitors to become customers or patients.
Pioneers like Amazon.com made it easy for consumers to find and buy products using search as well as browse. As Amazon learned that consumers really don’t want to browse as much as they want to quickly find and buy particular items, the search function gained maturity and was joined by fast (single-click) checkout and expedited shipping to speed the deal. What Amazon has really done in relatively short order is to create the perfect (or nearly perfect) scenario for repeat business. I’ve quickly and efficiently purchased items at Amazon.com dozens of times over the years. And this is a lesson to be put into practice by any company through its website.
But HOW? Let’s get pragmatic with three examples. But first, let me repeat something I said in Part 2: publicity is a process. I gladly add: websites are also a process. If you treat either as a project, it will ultimately fail. Both need to be nourished to flourish.
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