“I do some PR.”
“I do some SEO.”
Surely these roles had value individually at one point. But as we move forward into the coming year, it is becoming increasingly obvious that in order to be most effective, the two should no longer stand apart. PR needs SEO. SEO needs PR. They go together like peanut butter and jelly.
How SEO helps PR
In today’s now-established content revolution, there’s a misled notion floating about that shooting out as much content as possible is the way to go. Our society is flooded with information, and likewise journalists are flooded with press releases. But the fact of the matter is content is useless unless it is both timely and relevant. Optimizing a press release for search can help it stand out to someone who is interested in that specific information. Likewise, optimizing a speech (or any other contact with the public, really) with search terms can bring traffic back to you by way of online users.
In the words of Mike Cherenson, former Chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America, “Authentic and relevant link building, aimed at driving engagement, informing publics and building mutually beneficial relationships should be a part of every public relations and SEO effort.”
How PR helps SEO
One of the main components SEO often lacks is a sense of long-term commitment. It’s about getting those numbers of unique visitors or that writing gig on a leading blog. It has a tendency to be about links and rankings and not people. PR helps balance this. PR is inherently committed to the long-term; it’s largely about maintaining relationships. Once SEO folks begin to embrace the mentality of PR, they should see their efforts become more fruitful and enduring.
On a more basic level, SEO provides the content to be optimized. While this may be stating the obvious, do not underestimate it. Good content takes time and thought to create, but if PR departments are already writing engaging content, make use of it!
How to make it work
For the SEO who’s never really done PR, and for the PR person who is struggling to learn SEO, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you move forward.
- SEO is necessary, but it is not magical. It does not transform a bad press release into a good one.
- Practice good PR habits as well as good SEO habits - Take the time to create good content and use SEO to guide it to where it needs to go.
- When writing a pitch, make it as simple as possible for your target to say yes.
- Provide keywords so that the SEO portion is done for them.
- Write a meta tag.
- Provide relevant, approved images upfront. Bundle them into one print-ready package, and it will be much easier for a reporter to say “yes” to your story.
Finally, don’t underestimate social media. PR is to journalists as SEO is to social media; both the journalists and social followers are audiences to keep rapport with and who require regular communication to be effective. They’re both about relationships.
The worlds of PR and SEO continue to converge. In fact, already 72% of PR agencies offer SEO. It’s time to study up and jump in. You might be a SEO expert. You might be a lead PR practitioner. For the greatest success, make sure you understand both sides of the same coin.