msp_publicrelationsGot news? Sure you do. Here's a simple five-step plan to help managed services providers and VARs generate some news and trigger some buzz. Follow the steps and you could increase mind share and market share within your target markets. Here's how.

For now, let's keep this super-simple. I'll be back later this week with additional, more extensive tips. In the meantime here are five steps to get started.

1. News Landing Page

Let's assume your company is called Acme. Your web site needs a landing page called www.acme.com/news or www.acme.com/pr. On it you will post:
  • Your latest press releases as HTML (so Google and other search engines find/index the content)
  • Complete contact information for the person who handles media relations in your company (Name, title, phone, email). Please, no generic "PR@acme.com" addresses. People want to connect with a real name.

2. Monthly News Release

So, your company has no news to share. Guess again. You're going to start banging the drum at least once a month. That's right: The first Tuesday of each month you're going  to announce news. It will be a three-paragraph press release covering one of the following topics:
  • New hires or employee promotions
  • New partnerships
  • New customer wins
  • New branded offerings
  • New technology partnerships -- but lead with your brand and emphasize your branded offerings
  • Participation in local business groups, foundations, charity work, etc.
  • A special monthly offer to customers

3. Media Outlets

You are going to submit your news to local newspapers and media sites. Don't spend too much time on this since (A) traditional media companies are imploding and (B) editorial staff turnover is high. Still, if you have the chance then strike up a relationship with local editors to improve the odds of ongoing media coverage.

4. Use A Blog Engine

Notice I'm not suggesting that you should start blogging. Rather, you should use a free blog engine (such as www.wordpress.com or www.blogger.com) as a free newswire/broadcast system for your company announcements.

Set up the account so that it reflects your company name (example: http://acme.wordpress.com). Don't waste too much time on the "look and feel" of your blog. Remember, this guidance is meant to get you started. The real goal of your blog engine is search engine optimization.

Now, post all of your press releases -- in their entirety -- on your blog site. Google and other search engines will index the news and make it easy for readers to discover your company.

5. Return to Step 2

Remember, effective PR is like going to the gym -- you have to stick with it. Make sure you always have at least one press release to share the first Tuesday of each month. Then, try to increase your pace to two announcements per month... and keep going from there.

Next time around I'll cover some of the basics of Twitter, Facebook. Google Adwords and video PR.