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How Social Media Can Help With PR Rather than looking at social media as just a marketing tool, start looking at it as a brand image one.

By Ann Smarty Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Social media has come a long way from the days of Friendster and Myspace. With the introduction of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus and so many other newer platforms, it has become as much a professional staple as a personal one.

So, how is it possible that so many businesses (especially small or online-based businesses) are failing to utilize social media for PR? After all, it can only be vastly improved by the use of direct engagement with both customers and the press -- and social media is perfect for both.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

Related: 4 Ways to Get Publicity on a Budget

Publish social-media friendly content

A great option are case studies. Case studies are some of the most powerful quantifiers you can use on the web. Not only do they present clear, concise data, but they also offer perspective in the results. More than that, if you present it in the right way you can elicit an emotional response that will prompt engagement and potentially sharing.

If you look at the case studies provided by other companies, you will notice how often those studies are shared and cited by major media outlets. For example, The Wall Street Journal is notorious for sharing case studies of companies of many sizes and influence.

Add in visuals, and you have the perfect content for social sharing, all with the aim of improving PR and brand image.

Seek bloggers' coverage

Blogosphere is the perfect link between social media and PR, as bloggers are active on social media and many of them are closely monitored by journalists.

Here are a few ways to get mentioned by popular bloggers:

Be a contributor: Guest posting at a well-known blog is a good way to get media coverage. Here are some ways to find guest blogging opportunities.

Provide your expertise: Being featured in a expert interview is a good way to make yourself more discoverable by journalists looking for quotes on a topic. MyBlogU offers you an easy way to participate in expert round-ups and find solo interview opportunities on niche blogs. Using the platform, you'll see your name cited again and again by niche bloggers and if you are lucky enough by journalists too!

Get your service or product reviewed: Blogger reviews work great for potential media coverage as well. Whether you pro-actively seek coverage or not, your product will probably be reviewed by users anyways: There are lots of online generators and platforms that give users that ability. Again, the question is, whether or not you want to control the message and make more of user reviews by approaching power niche bloggers. Free platforms like Tomoson help you get your product or giveaway featured on niche blogs which increases your chances to be noticed by journalists.

Related: 5 Tools to Fuel Your Company's PR Machine

Connect with the press on social media

The media picks up a shocking amount of information from the web these days: Not just details to enhance stories but entire stories. Reddit has been used by major publications to source interesting stories. Twitter trends and hashtags are covered by major news outlets. Social media sites have become a solid part of journalism.

Social media can offer you a fast way to go about connecting with the media. By strategic use if hashtags and social media tagging, you can get a solid media coverage, provided you have a good story to cover.

Related: How to Rock Social Media Like Gary Vaynerchuk

Ann Smarty

Founder of MyBlogU, Brand Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas

Ann Smarty is the brand and community manager at InternetMarketingNinjas.com as well as the founder of MyBlogU.com. Smarty has been into internet marketing for seven years, she is the former editor-in-chief of Search Engine Journal and contributor to prominent search and social blogs including Small Biz Trends and Mashable. Smarty is also a frequent speaker at Pubcon and the host of regular Twitter chats #vcbuzz and #myblogu.

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