Wednesday, 24 September 2014

PR and SEO: The dilemma of the digital Romeo and Juliet

PR and SEO

One crucial learning from this year’s BrightonSEO in September, was that PR and SEO should be integrated in the content marketing strategy in order to achieve the best results. Why is it so difficult then to make both parties work together?
This article will answer both why, and how, PR and SEO should be pulling in the same direction, rather than continuing what is probably the saddest love-hate relationship in the digital world.

The knowledge gap

First of all, there might be a general knowledge gap – potentially on both sides. But what the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve about, and this is exactly where the underlying problem lies between the digital Romeo and Juliet. On the one hand, SEO geeks don’t necessarily know about the brand message PR experts would like to spread across the world. On the other hand, PR Managers mostly don’t know about the benefits and different mechanisms of search engine optimisation. If only they knew how beneficial their activities are for each other!
In order to spark the flame and reveal the hidden treasures both SEO and PR can offer, it is highly recommended to book in meetings with each other in the early stages of a project. Explain what both parties are working on as well as what the goals, mechanisms and success metrics  are – sharing is learning!

Lack of communication

Always bear in mind that getting to know each other properly is only the first stage of building a fruitful relationship. The best results will be achieved if you strive for consistent and clear communication right from the beginning. Only when you speak about your targets (brand awareness vs. visibility), can you make sure that both parties work towards them effectively and don’t poison each other. Firstly, the SEO team will know in what direction creative projects need to go if they want PR support for them and secondly, the PR team can integrate and schedule the upcoming press release(s) in order to secure media coverage. - Words spread the love!

Brand awareness and visibility - two different targets?

The aim of traditional PR is to build and enhance brand awareness whereas SEO is more focused on increasing online visibility. Wait! Is there any difference? From an SEO, as well as an (online) PR perspective, we would say no: Increased visibility – best in the TOP 3 Google rankings – will inevitably lead to more traffic and thus a higher brand awareness (think of the eye tracking study and the so called Golden Triangle - worth sharing with PR Managers).

Some highly respected PR Managers hold the opinion that SEOs would solely be spamming the internet – which might have been true in the early days but, thankfully, the tactics they are referring to have been punished by Google and should not be used any more. The key thing here – again – is the lack of communication between the digital Montagues and Capulets.
Of course, there might be ideas which SEOs are highly convinced of – but not the PR team – and vice versa. Either way – SEO and PR don’t always have to go hand in hand but it is highly recommended for achieving the best coverage of a campaign – both in terms of brand awareness and visibility. - We are sitting in the same boat!

Why do SEO and PR need each other?

Traditional off-page SEO is focussed on blogger outreach which means that content promotion is limited to a certain type of online media. The strongest link power however comes from high quality (magazine and newspaper) sites, naturally served by traditional PR. The two SEO dilemmas:

1) SEOs don’t naturally have a great PR network and 
2) The PR department won’t naturally allow the SEO team to target newspaper sites.

That’s why every SEO professional is dreaming of and in need of the perfect relationship with PR. But don’t worry guys, it is not our aim to cross territory or steal your PR contacts (happy for you to take out the journalists for dinner!) - what we are interested in is hitting the targets – increasing brand awareness and visibility.

And how can PR benefit from SEO? Usually, the online marketing team has allocated a budget to come up with bigger creative ideas which are also newsworthy for PR, be it a new page with useful information or a competition with the potential to go viral. Also, existing PR ideas can be spread via online marketing and thus enhance brand awareness and visibility. – Love is the key!

PR and SEO are two powerful tools – being even stronger when going hand in hand. That’s why we think there should be a happy ending for the digital Romeo and Juliet.

What is your opinion on this topic? Let us know what kind of experience you have made on either the PR or SEO side!

Author: Kristin Stancikas 

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