The aphorism “A good craftsman never blames his tools” holds true most of the time unless there is a PR professional that doesn’t understand which tools are actually in his or her toolbox.
As this industry evolves, we should always be on safari to find new and exotic contrivances to place at our clients’s disposal. They do count on us breaking out those utensils to give them hits, awareness, traffic — and to justify the occasional braggadocio.
Agencies are becoming more integrated every day, yet many PR types still lack the new plug-in SEO appliance. Honestly, there’s no excuse for that — and for this week’s #5Things, here are five reasons why SEO should be in every PR’s toolbox.
1. News = Search. PR agencies are cloaked content farms. The main job is to secure news, right? Then what? We need to promote it. Sure, there is social media and the occasional shouting from the mountaintop, but if only there was a device that would allow a PR firm to place an article in a public forum that could be seen globally at the click of a finger? With more than six billion searches recorded daily on Google (according to Comscore’s rankings), the average flack should really brush up on SEO to create a better strategy focused on content and its placement. It can help every item placed online become “content” and not just another boring press release or blog post.
2. PR already writes “for people.” One major obstacle creatives usually encounter is “writing for the Web.” When they do that, they forget about an audience — any audience. Sure, on a bad day, it’s nice to forget about clients and any other person who breathes. Nonetheless, if you don’t read according to how people want to search, you may as well write a Tumblr focused on pet rocks. PR folks, like everyone who “writes for the Web”, need to understand how to mix keywords with a conversational flow and interesting anecdotes. The only exception would be anyone from the tech practice: “people” don’t generally speak in binary code (no offense).
3. We pitch content. It may take some getting used to, but you aren’t really pushing out your client’s ideas, products, or services — everything you include in an email to a reporter is content, and all of those emails can easily be repurposed into something that lives online. The more content a PR professional can develop or pitch, the more Google appreciates it … and the more target audiences can find it. The online placement of that content can help you learn the finite details about SEO and how it can benefit your clients.
4. The ghost of press releases past. Although clients love them and flacks abuse them, press releases actually do have a purpose in this new digital world — and they can find a good home online. DYK that the first press release was written in 1906 by Ivy Lee and actually published verbatim in The New York Times? Yes, those days are long gone. But if they’re written with purpose and some keyword optimization, good links, and a modicum of AP-style mastery, those press releases can become steroids for search.
5. PR and SEO have more in common than you think. If you choose to remember anything from this listicle, remember that Google is great for PR because it is forcing practitioners to become better writers. So what’s a brand that relies on organic search to do? Turns out that is what Google values the most – links and mentions from high quality, high-reputation sites. This is exactly what competent public relations professionals have been doing for decades. Think about it for a second. Any PR tool is designed to get people to pay attention and then to create a connection. Without awareness and trust, PR is just white noise. Now consider SEO: the idea of this concept is to write content that gets people to pay attention and create, again, a connection to the subject.
In short: awareness comes from relevant keywords and trust comes from good content.