To date, PR and SEO have been viewed as independent functions that serve very different purposes. Where PR protects and promotes a positive image for a brand, SEO focuses on creating web content and generating back links that would boost a brand’s visibility in search in order to drive traffic. However, the continuously evolving nature of the internet has forced these two disciplines to acclimatise to their new online arena by converging.
Gone are the days of long boozy lunches for PRs (news is now in real time meaning journalists have no time). Equally, significant changes in Google algorithms have forced SEOs to abandon old Blackhat techniques of achieving hundreds of low authority links. The objective of PR and SEO is the same: securing coverage and building brand awareness. This year, we recruited two PR specialists to sit within the SEO department enabling the two functions to work simultaneously on every outreach project. Here are some of the lessons learned:
Any experienced PR professional will stand firmly against the old phrase ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’. Achieving coverage for your brand is a key target but maintaining a positive reputation with the public should be the ultimate objective and this is the main lesson all SEO veterans can take from PR.
Producing highly controversial content that has the potential to go viral might get your brand to the top of page one on a Google search but for all the wrong reasons. Content outreach campaigns should be devised to pitch your brand as an authoritative and credible voice in your relevant industry. Increasing your brand online presence from distasteful coverage can do considerable damage to your reputation which will harm consumer trust in your business and product long-term.
Relationship goals, not Links
Link building was once the holy grail of SEO good practise but as Google’s algorithm changes have become more sophisticated, brands have been forced to overhaul their outreach strategies. Websites are increasingly being penalised for obtaining swathes of links from poor quality sites.
Though winning coverage for each story or content campaign is a great success, building relationships with journalists and key influencers should be fundamental to any brand’s marketing strategy, both offline and online.
Google has long been placing more importance on brand mentions so winning one piece of coverage from a high authority site or publication will be worth more than 10 links from low domain, irrelevant websites.
We’re never too old for story time
You may have a content campaign that is data rich which some surprising findings that are certainly newsworthy. However, regardless how interesting the numbers seem, alone they will not win the shocking headline that could make your campaign go viral. Understanding and telling the story around the data or content and why it’s important and timely is what captures an audience’s attention and by extension, the journalist’s. This rings true for both consumer and B2B stories – you are still targeting a human so it’s crucial to provide something engaging no matter what the subject is.
The power of spin adds huge value to your content campaign because it makes the data, numbers or information relevant to your target audience. When Expert Market conducted research to gauge managers’ attitudes towards the use of robots in the workplace it proved a hit with a variety of publications and audiences. Why? One simple hook: the surprising willingness of managers to incorporate artificial intelligence in the office and the fear that anyone, in any industry could be replaced by a robot – including you.
PR can finally prove their worth
One of the toughest challenges PR departments have had to face is proving how the function adds financial value to a business. Securing a story in print in a national used to be the pinnacle of a PR campaign, but as businesses channel more of their marketing budgets and efforts into developing their online presence, PR professionals have too had to re-assess their techniques and objectives. The beauty of online coverage, whether it’s a link or a mention, is the ability to track and monitor how a user has converted from your story.
The intelligent webmaster analytics tools used by SEO executives can reveal anything from the volume of people clicking through to a site from a story secured, to how long they spend on the site. Most importantly these resources expose how many people converted or made a sale following a story, meaning PR can finally put a value to their work.
By Jessica Laporte, Expert Market.
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