Everything you need to know about SEO, delivered every Thursday.
Leveraging PR To End The B2B Content Development Struggle
One of the biggest challenges B2B clients grapple with is content creation. Developing material that is fresh, relevant, and keeps users coming back—while also being SEO-friendly—can be difficult. This is a problem. Fortunately though, there’s an easy and effective solution. And it’s closer than you might think.
For the most part, B2B organizations struggle with content development for one reason, and it’s not because they don’t have anything to say. Rather, the problem can be attributed to staffing, or a lack thereof, as content development typically is quite lean in most B2B organizations.
However, these same organizations tend to have solid PR teams in place—whether in house or on the agency side—that are ready, willing, and able to generate new material. In essence, what these organizations lack in the area of content development, they make up for in PR.
Given that, B2B marketers struggling with content development should try to capitalize on PR to generate new content. Doing so could provide the ideal solution. In fact, my experience has shown that once PR is brought up to speed on the goal and how they can assist, they are excited to contribute.
But before you run down the hall to ask for their help, let’s first take a look at how you can get the most out of the resource.
To start, if you are going to partner with PR, then it’s critical to get some clarity. Specifically, what constitutes content? Good question. And timely too, especially given the development of blended search.
Over the last year, the major search engines have started to display blended results, which integrates different forms of digital content—images, news, videos,—into the general search results. Now web pages are not the only type of content that matters. Instead, the search results landscape has changed.
This is actually a good thing. The change represents considerable opportunity for marketers as it allows them to leverage their various forms of digital content, and as a result, increases their chance to stand out amongst the clutter in the search results.
But for some reason, when marketers think of content, they limit themselves to web pages. This is a mistake. For example, most marketers fail to realize that a white paper is content too—just in a slightly different format—and that if it is optimized properly, it can do quite well in the search results.
But now with blended search, there’s so much more opportunity. Images, videos, and yes, even press releases are considered content too. In fact, a recent study on blended search reveals that of all the types of specialized content now displayed in the general search results, users prefer news items the most.
Clearly, the opportunities for content development are endless, and PR is a great resource to leverage. However, what are the chances that the PR team is idly sitting around waiting for your call? My guess? Not very likely. So if you are considering tapping into PR, you would be wise to keep the following factors in mind as you move forward. Doing so could make the difference between the success or failure of the initiative.
Strategy. If you want to leverage PR, you’ll need their buy-in first. To start, discuss your overall strategy with them. Take the time to explain the content challenges you are experiencing, and that you value their opinions in developing a solution. While this might seem like a very trivial part of the process, it’s not. I have seen numerous organizations fail right from the starting blocks because they did not get buy-in from their PR folks.
Education. To successfully tap into PR, you need to educate them first. Again, this might seem very basic, but it is another area where organizations regularly shoot themselves in the foot. Most of the PR folks I have worked with on this were initially intimidated by the task of developing content for searchers. For the most part, I think their trepidation can be attributed to the fact that this is a new area for them. To help them feel more comfortable with the task, provide a few training sessions on what SEO is, what your goals are, and specifically what you are looking for them to do. But keep in mind that your PR folks may be wary that you’ll want them to turn everything they create into marketing fluff instead of meaningful content. Given that, be sure to spend a good amount of time discussing the types of content you are looking for them to produce. Then allow them to brainstorm some ideas; it will get you more buy-in that way.
Develop a pilot. To effectively leverage PR, start small. From my experience, the most successful initiatives start as pilots. The benefits of doing so are twofold: Not only will it help you get it right—by getting everyone on the same page first—it will also make it much easier to create momentum and show the results. This will get people excited about what you are collectively accomplishing, and as a result, they’ll be more willing to make it a regular effort.
Other formats. Leveraging PR for content development also means capitalizing on other media formats. You can involve your PR team in the optimization of additional types of digital content such as videos and podcasts. Many PR teams already create these digital assets for a variety of reasons, so take the time to train them to make subtle but effective changes, such as incorporating keywords in questions and using keywords to describe the video.
Measurement. Last, but not least, to fully capitalize on PR, you need to set goals and measure performance. A good way to start is to work with your PR team and the results of your pilot to set goals for your efforts. Be sure to set goals in terms of pages of content and frequency of update. More importantly, you must also set performance goals. But be mindful that the best goal setting is done as a collaborative effort. Make these performance goals aim for better placements in the search engines, more traffic, and more registrations or leads (some form of business results). And make sure to track these metrics monthly and report back to all involved so that everyone feels as though they are part of the effort.
Overall, if you are a B2B marketer struggling with content creation, your PR team could be the solution to your problem. But to make it work, you need to get their buy-in, run a pilot, and set and measure the goals for these efforts. If done properly, you have the chance to really make a difference.
Brian Kaminski is managing director of search engine marketing firm iProspect in San Francisco, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Strictly Business column appears Wednesdays at Search Engine Land.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.