The first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word local marketing, at least for digital marketers, is local SEO. Multiple location marketing strategies have been tried and tested, like building local citations, running local ads, and reputation management.
But what if you’re already doing all of that, and your multi-local business is still behind the competition? You turn your attention to a strategy not typically used in localized marketing - digital PR.
Digital PR may sound like a too-expensive strategy for a local business. When we’re talking about PR for several locations instead of doing a global PR campaign, the budgets tend to be affordable.
This article will discuss why a small or medium business would want to get involved with digital PR and how to do it effectively to boost your multi-local marketing strategy.
Why Public Relations is important for SEO
Following all the established best practices of local SEO, such as ensuring that information on online listings is accurate and a Google My Business page is well put together, is extremely important. But while it’s the backbone of your success in local SEO, it’s not the only thing you can do to climb up the local SERPs.
According to Google, the search engine uses three main factors to determine local rankings:
You can’t influence the distance from a searcher to your business. However, you can improve relevance by doing basic local SEO like updating your Google My Business profile.
When those two are accounted for, the only thing you can work on is prominence. Google’s guidelines define prominence as “how well-known a business is.” In the digital world, it translates to how many mentions on other websites your business has. Though it’s unclear how exactly Google algorithms calculate prominence, the fact that backlinks and mentions play a crucial role here is undeniable. And that’s something you can only influence with link building.
For a multi-local business, a merge of PR and SEO is the best way to go. Experts believe these two go hand in hand in modern-day digital marketing as a basic SEO strategy won’t cut it for a local brand. A ton of mentions on different sites with no presence in the local community won’t do a brand like yours any good.
With that in mind, here’s how to use PR in multi-local SEO to your advantage.
How to implement multi-local PR
If your organization has the budget for an offline marketing campaign, you should absolutely take advantage of that! Remember, though, that you need to find a local angle on the messaging.
We’ll cover digital PR methods in the following sections, especially those that focus on getting backlinks and mentions - the backbone of any SEO strategy, not just local.
Partner with local NGOs
There’s nothing people love to see more from a business than charitable giving, and there’s evidence it can boost profits. The increase in profits can be hard to measure, but the PR boost is apparent in any charitable action made by a company.
Now, giving a certain percentage of the profits or a dollar off every sale of a specific product to a global charity is a noble cause, but it won’t generate the right response. You can leave those types of donations for global corporations.
If you run a business with multiple locations, it’s best to focus on smaller, local charities. They don’t get enough attention when compared to the Red Cross or Salvation Army, but your help can be crucial for them.
A monetary donation, helping them with your business expertise, or giving your employees a paid leave to spend a day doing charity can be a great way to boost PR and do a good thing at the same time. If you reach a long-term agreement, you can expect a backlink from their website.
Support local events
Sponsoring, supporting, or hosting local events is another great way to boost your PR efforts, both offline and online. Hosting an event is the best strategy. If you run the type of business that can host an event, you will receive both the revenue and exposure.
Sponsoring or otherwise supporting events can be trickier, but you can always slip in traditional advertising in the mix. For instance, if you run multiple florist joints and decide to sponsor a dance night in a local bar, you can decorate the place a bit and give visitors coupons for their first purchase.
Whatever format you choose, you’ll probably receive a citation and a backlink from the event’s website and potentially from several event ads published on external platforms.
These kinds of mentions are unique. No matter how well competitors monitor your strategy, they will not be able to replicate it easily.
Organize your own events
Organizing events by yourself is a much trickier endeavor than sponsoring them. However, you can reap many benefits in almost all marketing spheres from just one event.
The easiest and most effective way to approach event organization is by giving a masterclass in what your business specializes in. By doing that, you can:
- Introduce new people to your business
- Leave a backlink and mention of your brand on any event website imaginable
- Receive a ton of mentions on social media
- Generate word-of-mouth marketing
Find local stories
This step is not fit for every company, but it can be a great way to increase trust with the local community. The best example of this type of storytelling done by a company with multiple locations is the ‘50 states of Target’ project.
It gathers short snippets of the company history in each state. It may not be a 2000-word unique story, but it positions Target as a part of the local community, not just another faceless corporation.
Now, smaller businesses cannot be expected to donate 2000 books to a local library, but you can find other stories if you look for them. Writing about your events or charitable efforts is one way of getting the word out there. Featuring your employees or your history with loyal customers can also provide a great story for your blog or social media page.
Sharing local stories can make customers feel like they’re a part of the community and trust you more. But what are the benefits for local SEO? Well, local and small businesses make up 92% of all businesses in the US, meaning they’re the country’s backbone. They make for the perfect rags-to-riches story as large corporations tend to be way too distant from a regular American. And involvement in local events and writing about local stories is the best way to get your company noticed and mentioned by local activists.
Get mentioned on local news
You may think that getting into the news is hard or way too expensive. It actually can be near impossible to get a 60-second speaking spot on networks like CNN or Fox News, but it’s not what you’re looking for.
You need mentions in local news, and it’s easier than you may imagine. Think about selling your story as you do about selling your product. What does your customer, the journalist, want? They want views, something newsworthy, and something that evokes emotion.
Thus, every step of your PR journey becomes an opportunity to get into local news. A charity event you did for a local food bank, a gig you sponsored, a heartwarming story about your regular customers — all of these can make for a great news story that journalists would be more than happy to feature.
Not only do these mentions work wonders for local SEO (by increasing that sought-after prominence from Google’s guidelines), but they also generate offline buzz around your business as well.
Don't abandon global PR
These five tips can help your business’s local SEO rankings, no matter how many locations you run. They can also boost marketing and sales in many other respects and will continue to do so for a long time.
That said, you do have to keep your hand on the pulse of cultural changes. The way people see communities is changing now, many people do not rely on location alone to determine their community. For many Millennials and Gen Z'ers, shared interests and values play an increasingly larger role.
It can signal that in larger cities, you may have to rely on brand values as well as local PR to draw clientele, while smaller communities will remain tight-knit and local.