What is the distinction between “traditional” public relations (PR) and online / interactive / social PR? Is there really a difference anymore—or is the boundary blurring?

One part of the confusion stems from the fact that in PR, as in many other crafts, the tools change and advance but the fundamental skills required remain the same. PR pros now use tools like Twitter, PitchEngine, PRWeb and Vocus in place of fax machines, media packets, wire services and Bacon’s, but the fundamental skills of storytelling and relationship-building remain crucial.

Another part of the confusion is based on the changing definition of “media.” Every print publication now has an online version. Many “traditional” journalists now write blogs; does that make them bloggers? What really is the distinction between megablogs like TechCrunch or Mashable and an online publication? And some multi-author blogs have morphed into hybrid portal/news/blog sites that are difficult to categorize.

Regardless, while the “art” of PR retains some constants, the “science” has clearly evolved. What are the best practices for pitching journalists in this new environment? What are the (current) best practices for pitching bloggers? How can PR pros optimize their use of social media tools? How can you make a press release more friendly to blogs, Twitter and search engines?

Find the answers to these questions and more here in a dozen of the best social PR guides of the past year.

Pitching Basics – Rules of Engagement by Blogging PRWeb

Noting that “The perfect pitch is one that involves getting to know your target reporters and showing a genuine interest in helping them, rather than treating them as a means to an end,” the delightful Stacey Acevero of Vocus shares a helpful list of “do’s” (e.g., do your research, do be concise) and “don’ts” (e.g., send generic pitches) for successfully getting others to write about your product / service / news / client etc.

Blogger Outreach Remains Crucial for PR Pros by SocialTimes

Jay Krall of Cision explains why blogger outreach remains important, how to find relevant bloggers within a particular topic area, and how to evaluate–and not evaluate–blogger influence, for example: “take one of the many varied specialties of lawyers who blog on topics like e-discovery or a particular state’s tax code – a blog with fewer than 10,000 readers may in fact serve as the tastemaker for the entire topic space. What makes sense instead is to judge a blog’s performance relative to its peers in the same topic area.”

Top 5 Innovative Ways PR Pros Are Using Social Media by Mashable

Leyl Master Black presents five creative ways for communication professionals to use social media, among them: tapping into breaking news (“social media opens the door to a number of new tactics that can be deployed in a matter of minutes … if you’re quick on your feet”), creating proprietary influencer networks, and connecting with media / bloggers at events.

How to Turn a Blog Post into a Press Release by ProBlogger

Erika Gimbel outlines a six-step process for turning a blog post into a press release (“Both have many of the same elements: strong headlines, top-down format (most important stuff up front), etc.” as she points out), starting with making sure the post is newsworthy (“how-to” guides work well for blog posts, not so well for news releases) and ending with using third-person AP-style writing for the release.

Small Business…Big Coverage! by Blogging PRWeb

Guest blogger Jon Gelberg contends that “you don’t have to be Apple or Google or Sony to get the attention of the press. All you need is an understanding of how the press (and online media) works and how best to get on their radar,” then describes how to find the right journalists and editors in a particular topic area and successfully pitch them on your story idea and expertise.

18 easy-breezy ideas for building a relationship with a journalist by Ragan’s PR Daily

Joan Stewart supplies “a handy list of how to prepare for, and conduct yourself during, a meeting” with a journalist or editor, from becoming familiar with that individual’s stories beforehand so you can discuss them intelligently, and bringing a media kit (or at least some brief background information) to asking how else you can help them and snail-mailing a real, paper thank-you note within 24 hours.

What brand marketers can learn from PR by iMedia Connection

Rebecca Lieb, author of one of the best SEO books ever, observes that “Press releases don’t work (the way they used to) any more. They are no longer a private, one-to-one communications channel (once mailed, later faxed to newsrooms). Now, the second a press release is distributed over a wire service, it’s immediately picked up by all the major news services and web portals.” Today, press releases have to be search-optimized, written for a broader audience of influencers than just journalists, and (ideally) discussed in the right forums.

Pitching to Google’s Fresh New Algorithm via News, Blogs, Events & Google+ by Search Engine Watch

Lisa Buyer reports that optimized news releases are now more important than ever given Google’s recent algorithm changes that promote the freshest content on news-themed web searches, then offers tips pertaining to PR SEO, online newsrooms, utilizing news blogs, capitalizing on events, the impact of Google+, content quality vs. quantity and more.

Six Tips For Making Your Press Release Twitter Friendly by Mediabistro

Pointing to a recent study showing that “Twitter drives more traffic to press releases than Facebook,” Tonya Garcia details half a dozen tips for making news releases Twitter-friendly, such as using numbers (““If you have data within a press release, call it out in the headline”), using hashtags properly, including multimedia, and making quotes tweetable.

8 ways to get people to discuss your new product in social media by WebInkNow

David Meerman Scott passes along tips learned while promoting his most recent book, Newsjacking: How to Inject your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage. Among his recommendations: don’t reveal too much too soon (“I never used the word “newsjacking” anywhere on the web prior to November 14, which was launch day. I find that people have short attention spans. If I say ‘a book is coming’ but people cannot actually read it, few will act. So I chose to keep quiet.”), inject some controversy, and respond to people in real time.

5 excruciatingly dumb things PR pros do with social media by ragan.com

Suggesting “look around and you will see a huge gap between those who get it and those who only think they get it,” Priya Ramesh warns communications professionals not to do “dumb” things in social media like using a formal, business-like tone on social networks (nerdy); using social media as a broadcast medium rather than a conversational forum; and—my favorite—”joining the shiny-object bandwagon without a strategy.”

8 Steps to Leveraging PR for SEO by gShift Labs
***** 5 STARS

Krista LaRiviere of gShift Labs notes that PR has taken on added importance in web presence due to Google’s recent Panda algorithm changes, which reduce the value of directory links, increase the influence of social signals on ranking, and reward content in certain topic areas for freshness, and provides and eight-step process for getting SEO value from every news release—beginning with keyword research and working through optimization, backlinks, and online distribution through an SEO-friendly PR distribution service.