Sign up for our daily recaps of the ever-changing search marketing landscape.
How To Leverage Brand PR To Drive SEO & Social Media
In most enterprises, PR generally focuses on creating a certain image or viewpoint about a company or its products. In doing this, PR departments seek to get coverage in print media and develop relationships with thought leaders and influencers in the company’s market space. The general purpose is to build the brand, resulting in increased interest in the company’s product or services. This is a good classic definition of what a public relations group does.
But in today’s Internet environment, the opportunity exists to get a lot more out of the PR department. This is especially true in large enterprises where the PR team can have extensive contacts and relationships with key people throughout the industry.
With a little tweaking of the approach, these contacts can be leveraged to have a large impact on SEO and social media alike. This requires a certain amount of change in the way that PR is done, but the payoff is huge.
Sadly, in many enterprises this is not being done. In many cases it is because of organizational inertia, and frankly, because the idea is new and not yet broadly accepted. So if you are not leveraging the PR team to drive SEO and social media results fret not! You are far from being alone.
It Starts With Education
There is a guy I know who is a long term PR professional at a large enterprise. He is always reminding me of the importance of providing a “man bites dog” hook when you are trying to promote something. In the world of social media and SEO, the same types of rules apply.
You always need to answer 3 questions:
- Who is going to care?
- Why are they going to care?
- How are you going to get them to notice? (this is where man bites dog comes in)
You really do need to answer all 3 questions well to succeed. This same contact is really good at getting PR placements in major media. But, try as I might, I could not get him to understand that I would rather have an article in the Boston Globe blog with a link in it than a simple mention in the New York Times.
Even from a traditional PR prespective, the implementation of a link by the media outlet actually represents a much stronger endorsement than a mention, as it shows they are willing to send some of their traffic directly to your site.
In my example of a NY Times mention, the user has to go to a search engine, type in the company name, find the link to the site, and click on that to get to your site.
Of course, there is the obvious point that a link is a gift that keeps on giving. The SEO value of the link from the Boston Globe will send far more traffic over time than the NY Times mention ever will. These things are directly connected, of course. Search engines recognize that the Boston Globe scenario represents a much stronger real world endorsement than a mention in the NY Times, and they will assign value accordingly.
The first step is to cross this gap.
Take the time to get your PR department on board with the greater value of a more modern view of digital marketing. While many PR groups will be ready to embrace these ideas, this is not always as simple as it sounds. I have worked with corporate PR departments that are working really hard, are well aware of the value they bring already, and they are not always ready to leap and try something new.
The reasons for the inertia usually boil down to one of two scenarios:
- They are already swamped, and this represents additional work.
- The mechanics of execution are not clear to them, and this makes it hard to start.
- As I noted above, these are new ideas and not everybody is ready to embrace them.
Patience is key here, and you may need to enlist others in the executive staff, such as your VP of Marketing/CMO, or the CEO. Bring data from the marketplace. Show them the success that others are having, particularly if it includes your competition. If need be, create financial models that show the impact of SEO to the enterprise, as I outline in these two articles:
Then, help them your management team the role that links and social mentions play in SEO. Keep in mind, it is not just about links, it is about the social aspects too. Social media brings obvious branding benefits, but it can also play a role in generating links to your site, or to that Boston Globe article, making the link they gave you even more valuable.
Five Points Of PR Integration
There are a number of ways that enterprise PR can influence your overall digital marketing plan.
Here are some examples:
- When you persuade someone to write about you, ask for a link. If the story is about a specific thing you have done, give them a page to link to that has more information that their readers might be interested in. If need be, create the world’s greatest resource on a given topic to make this more attractive. Do what it takes to get the link.
- Ask them if they are going to tweet and/or share the story. This will help draw more attention to the story (links, retweets, reshares, …) and make the link on that page to you even more valuable.
- Ask them when the story is going to go live so you can tweet/share it. This is a way of giving back and helping them promote the articles they publish. It also makes you a more attractive story to cover in the future. As mentioned above, if this results in links to the article, that’s a win too.
- Enhance this further by regularly tweeting/sharing their stories. Don’t do every one, but focus on the ones most relevant to your business. Providing support to them in this way will not go unnoticed.
- Cultivate the relationship to learn what they think you know that they don’t. Write about these things from time to time on your blog. This will keep them interested in staying in touch with you, and may cause them to tweet/share your content as well.
This list represents but a few examples of the types of things you can do. Once you start seeing the value of these types of relationships you will want to do more. Your PR department is perfectly positioned to help make this happen for you. Just make sure they understand the value it represents, no matter how much time it takes. Done right, the results are undeniable.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.