There’s been a lot of talk in the search industry over the past year regarding the overlap of public relations and SEO, particularly in the area of link building. As a Public Relations major, this couldn’t make me happier — not because I feel like my college degree can finally be justified to my parents; but because, as an industry, we’re finally embracing PR and learning from it, even though it’s always been a part of SEO.
Public relations professionals have spent years perfecting their outreach strategies, building relationships and finding press opportunities for their clients. Search marketers have also spent years doing outreach and finding opportunities for our clients — we just called them “links.” They weren’t always the best opportunities, but we’re getting better — and that’s where we can take a cue from our communications-minded friends in the PR industry.
1. Monitor Editorial Opportunities
By now, we’ve all heard of HARO, and hopefully everyone is using it to get their client mentions and maybe build a link or two. While HARO is extremely useful, it isn’t the end-all be-all when it comes to finding editorial opportunities.
Sites all over the Web (especially those with Web and print publications) have pages listing their upcoming editorial opportunities. Here’s an example from Direct Marketing News:
Editorial opportunities typically include the article subject matter, the author, the author’s contact information and the deadline. This is all extremely valuable information, and it’s all right there for you in one place! All you have to do is pitch it.
To find out if a site has their editorial opportunities listed, search the target site or use Google site: command for terms like:
- Editorial calendar
- Upcoming issues
- Editorial opportunities
- Guest opinion articles
You can also use EdCals from Cision. It’s a free tool that allows you to search editorial calendars across the globe and then download the information to your Outlook. Search by topic, submission deadline and the outlet name.
Once you’ve identified sites that publish this information, make sure to monitor them for future openings. Put them in your reader or subscribe to be alerted via email (if offered).
2. Set Up Event Interviews
Conferences and trade shows offer plenty of opportunities when it comes to links; but, one of the best comes straight from the world of PR: interviews.
For both speakers and those attending the show, it seems there is always someone looking to interview attendees before, during and after the show. Some conferences will even go so far as to set up press interviews for you.
If you’re planning on attending a show or have a client attending a show, start looking for potential interviews:
- Sign up for event emails
- Visit the event press page
- Follow the event hashtag
Also, be sure to check out event sponsors, as they will often do promotions ahead of time. Take a look at their social media accounts or blog to identify any possible lead-ins.
3. Provide Daily Scan Recommendations
As a link builder, there’s no doubt that you’re already monitoring the Web for your company or client. Whether it’s through Google Alerts, Trackur, or another Web monitoring tool, we know this is a valuable source for links. Daily scans basically do the same thing.
The PR team will send the client a “daily scan” email featuring the top articles about the company, their competitors and overall industry news. It keeps the client and the agency informed of what’s happening.
The key is to take the scan a step further. Create action items.
Run the daily scan, but underneath each article, create an action item for the client (for in-house people, this can essentially act as a to-do list):
- Leave a comment on the post
- Write a response on the client’s/company blog
- Share the post via Twitter
- Email the author
The key to providing an action item is to give whomever you are sending it to as much information as possible. If you want your client to leave a comment, write the suggested comment. If you want the person to connect with the author via Twitter, give him/her the author’s Twitter handle. The less work a busy client has to do, the greater the chance the person will be able to get it done.
The daily scan recommendations are a great way to help drive brand awareness, create relationships with the people who matter and build links.
4. Create Segmented Reporter Lists
In June of last year, Oriella PR surveyed 600 reporters on their use of social media for sourcing stories. The results showed that 55% of the respondents used social networks to find stories from known sources, and 26% said they used social to find stories from sources they did not know.
The fact that reporters are using social media to source stories has given search marketers a huge window of opportunity for link building. That doesn’t mean you need to go follow every reporter on Twitter, though.
To increase your chances of being a source and acquiring a link, you must target reporters that are relevant to your company or client.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to create private Twitter lists segmented by client, industry and relationship. For example, if I have three clients in the high tech industry, I want to make sure I have the following lists set up:
- High tech reporters
- Client 1 reporters
- Client 2 reporters
- Client 3 reporters
I also want to make sure I know which reporters have written about my company/client before and which have not. It may seem like a lot of lists, but it’ll help you stay organized and ensure you don’t waste your time looking at the wrong people.
To find relevant reporters and start creating lists, check out some of these tools to help with the data gathering process (Muck Rack has some great lists). The easiest place to start, however, is your target publication. For example, The New York Times lists their reporters on Twitter, and even has them filtered by topic. The same thing applies toThe Boston Globe and many of the other larger newspapers.
Also take a look at the authors of the articles listed in the daily scans mentioned above. These people are already writing about your industry and may need a source in the future.
Once you have your lists set up, be sure to keep an eye on them or set up alerts. When a reporter is sourcing a story on Twitter, it’s likely because he/she needs the information fast.
5. Use PR Focused Tools
One of the things that makes the search industry rock is the abundance of free or low cost tools we have at our disposal — tools that make our jobs easier and help us make better decisions every single day. Well, guess what? The PR industry has those, too.
I mentioned the Cision editorial tool above, but the company also offers a free tool called Seek or Shout that lets you find content, post pitches and seek those looking for sources. It’s a pretty cool way to make connections and discover potential link opportunities.
Search for a specific topic and then filter by “seek” and “date.” You’ll see who’s looking for information for a story and who has a question about the topic — you may even find potential content for your own site (i.e., interviews) that can result in a return link and social promotion.
Like any other social network, you get what you give — so start by finding people in your industry or your client’s industry that you can connect with. It probably doesn’t need to be said, but it’s all about relationship building.
Note: Seek and Shout is still growing; so, while you may not find something in there every day, keep it in your arsenal. If you’re looking for additional PR tools to use, RavenTools has a massive list worth taking a look at.
At the end of the day, link building has changed and will continue to change. Public relations professionals focus on getting their clients mentions that matter to their overall business, and so should we. Hopefully, the tips listed above will help you get started.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.