caribseek.jpgby Ingrid RileyThe Internet has changed the publicity game. Before this digital space was around, almost all publicity came from publications and media outlets that “covered” you and your news. Now there are online publicity tools allow you in some respects to cut out the middle media man and put your message, your brand directly and quickly before your target audience.In essence, what the Internet has done is given companies the opportunity to spread their news using online environments where their message is distributed throughout a regional and global network of people who are connected digitally. This Word of Mouse as we call it, happens when people pass on information to their friends, family and classmates by email, instant messenger, forums, social media and blogs. The benefits of this aspect of online marketing are great:- Online publicity gives you exposure within your target audience.- Online publicity drives targeted traffic to your Web site.- Online publicity gets fast results – no long lead times to wait for.- Online publicity is inexpensive for the results provided.- Online publicity works for almost any business, big or small.If you’ve read this far it means you want to know some of the things you can do, you can put in your integrated marketing plan- so here are five tools you can put to use.1. Online Press Release Services. Once you’ve passed the hurdle of making your press release search engine optimized, it’s time to tap into online services to get your message out. Here are a few of them – Caribbeanpressreleases.com where you can add your press release to their site by extension before the eyes of their readership for US$20 per release; Jamaicapressreleases.com where you can submit your release for free and; Caribpr.com the pioneer, which offers Caribbean, Caribbean Diaspora and African American target audiences for fees ranging from US$100-US$600.2. Site Directories. One of the primary tools of any Internet user is Search, simply because there are millions of sites out there and a searchable site directory like Yahoo makes the effort easier. As part of your online strategy, you must submit your website address, site description and the keywords relevant to your site. Most are free, while some charge a fee.In the Caribbean we have a few of those serving general and industry specific needs. There is caribseek.com, which has two site listing packages- Caribseek Cool for which they charge US149/yr and Caribseek One, which is US$249/yr. The difference is the former gets you listed in 10 days, the latter gets you listed in 24hrs. Then there is top5jamaica.com the top site directory for Jamaica, which lists you for free as well as jamaicanservices.com, a directory of Jamaican services and barbadosbusinesspages.com. If you are in the restaurant business, then check out caribbeanbuffet.com.3. Start a Facebook Group. For those of you not totally sold on social media as a marketing tool, go join facebook.com and see how many Caribbean and Caribbean Diaspora groups are on there, how many members each group has and how the groups are using their audiences to leverage their brand. Hope you went and took a look. You see, creating a Facebook group allows you to create your own audience, build brand awareness and even prime them for website traffic and sales conversion. You can take it even further by creating your own Facebook application as jamaicanjokes.com did in December 2007 and now has 10,500 new users.jamaican-jokes-on-facebook1.jpg4. Start your own blog. You have your own website and maybe for the most part, there is little need to update the content daily or weekly at this time, this is the perfect reason to create a blog for your company website. It allows you to do number of things. You can use the blog to publish your own press releases; get instant feedback from customers, suppliers and shareholders and respond to them; plus you can announce new products and services. Think of your company’s blog as interactive publicity, an upgrade from that boring printed newsletter no one reads, an aspect of online publicity you have full control of. Have a look at the topw two most used blogging software, wordpress.com and blogger.com5. Email Communications – This is one of the most obvious online publicity tools often overlooked. You see, every client, customer, site visitor and supplier you come into contact with, presents you with an opportunity to ask him or her for their email address, so you can keep in touch. Now that you have asked them to opt in, (giving you permission to contact them) half the battle is won. When you’ve done this, what you have is collected a list of people who are familiar with your store, brand and website, that you can then send email newsletters giving them how to information on how to use your products. You can also use this list to send eblasts (email ads) to alert them to special offers. Once they get this information, more than 50% typically passed it on to friends and family which cranks up online publicity and kick-start the viral marketing effect.Clearly these are just five tools you can use as part of a complete online publicity programme, which takes planning and preparation and is an ongoing part of a larger internet marketing plan. Use this as the start of something great, not a one shot effort you make when you’re launching your business.If you liked this post, why not Subscribe to Silicon Caribe Today by Email

  • Liquid Soap

    I also find social bookmarking can be effective as it allows you to “tag” you website so that readers who are interested in the topic its on can view it.My two favorites are Digg and StumbleUpon.