Is there a more misunderstood marketing tool than public relations?
Many organizations end up implementing PR just because they feel they “have to.” Now stop us if we’re wrong, but you chose to manage a business for the freedom to make your own decisions, correct? Very few sound business decisions are made with such a lack of strategy.
Discounting PR’s potential is an unfortunate attitude for both your company and PR professionals – because when used proactively, PR can help generate new business, drive increased website visits and deliver key messaging points.
Even better, PR’s maximum potential is best achieved when used in tandem with other marketing tools like search engine optimization.
SEO is to PR what sweet is to salty. Many overlook their immediate connection because they are so different, when in fact they complement each other very well.
Here are three elements of PR that SEO can improve upon, proving that sometimes opposites do attract.
Perform keyword research for press releases
One important element of PR that has begun to lose its impact from overuse and abuse is the press release. Today many organizations issue a release on a bi-weekly or even weekly basis, instead of waiting for something truly newsworthy.
With the increasing number of press releases being distributed into the world, a tactic best known in the SEO world can be a PR professional’s secret weapon to make sure your news doesn’t get lost in the noise.
SEO is much more complex than simply plugging random keywords into a blog post and hoping your customers will stumble upon your content. A main tenet of effective SEO is keyword research, which is a systematic method of determining what keywords are most effective in reaching your particular organization’s target audience by analyzing for results, competition, CPC and other factors.
Once you’ve determined your top keywords, strategically weaving these phrases into the headlines and body of your release will increase its relevance in search results – thus driving increased, relevant traffic to your site.
But SEO is certainly not pulling all the weight in this duo. Each time a quality release is picked up by a relevant media source, your SEO signals get stronger. The more third-party sites that link back to yours (as long as they are high quality sites), the more valuable search engines will view your site and reward you with higher rankings.
Optimize images for press releases
Reporters are just like you and me when it comes to content – they like imagery that grabs readers’ attention and makes their stories more compelling to share with our increasingly social world.
When issuing a press release on the web, images and videos will make your news more interactive, therefore more interesting for the news editor and reader over a competitor’s release.
And a few simple SEO tips can help optimize your images, increasing the chances that these visual elements will appear in image searches.
This, in turn, increases the likelihood that your content will reach the people most interested in it – most importantly, the influencers within your particular niche.
Target messaging with SEO
Many people believe that the main goal of PR should be to expose your content to the greatest number of people possible. This is incorrect. The main goal of any marketing tool is to deliver your message to the right people, at the right time, in the right medium.
When press releases are placed onto the Internet only with intention of “getting it out there,” they lose their value. But SEO can help ensure that your outreach is targeted and streamlined to those who are most valuable.
For example, if you’re a surfboard company getting ready to release a sweet new board, you’re going to want this news extended to strategically targeted regions where your product is in demand and currently in season to maximize the effectiveness of its launch.
SEO can help to hone in on particular regions with geo-targeted keywords. To continue with the surfboard example, geo-targeted words might be “Long Beach” or “Ocean City,” locations known for their large surfing population.
In addition, natural search keywords can be helpful in targeting a particular region or group of people. Surfers, like other subcultures, often have their own slang words that could be honed in on. For example, if soft-drink company executives were targeting a particular region, they might want to adjust their keywords based on whether that region refers to the beverage as “pop,” “soda,” or “coke.”
Combine SEO and PR for more strategic campaigns
SEO is no doubt a useful tool for PR professionals. But search engines are tricky tools to optimize for, so in order to get all the benefits here, SEO you’ll need a team member who is familiar with SEO and who has the time to conduct the necessary research, execution and result analysis.
In addition, search engines consistently change their algorithms, which means you’ve got to be prepared to adapt quickly to ensure you’re working with keywords that are the most relevant.
The system, if used correctly, can help increase the value of your company’s media efforts. By monitoring and using the appropriate keywords and incorporating imagery and geographic guidelines into your news, publicists can really make the most of every announcement.
And don’t forget, the public relations strategy must be a thoughtful plan from the beginning in order for SEO to be effective in conjunction.
Are you incorporating any elements of SEO into your PR, or vice versa? We can talk PR all day long, and we’d love to hear your comments!