The Merging of PR, Social and SEO
While it’s always been the case that PR and social media, alongside SEO, have been interconnecting disciplines, this is now becoming more the case than ever, thanks to the world of digital.
Traditional PR agencies are now finding that they will have to adapt and work closely with social, in order to gain any competitive edge. This means that publicists now have to take a new approach to their job, recognising that new platforms mean new opportunities.
What approach can PR agencies take, then, to ensure that they make the most of the modern digital marketing space? For a start, all PR professionals should be making the most of social media as a research tool, as this gives a great idea what the news is covering and what’s topical.
PR has always had close links with the news and journalism, and these days that means finding professional journalists online as well as off. This can get tricky if you take the approach that you always have, as it’s a somewhat different medium online.
PR agencies should be looking for influencers, rather than just traditional journalists, and this is again where social comes in. While it might be nice to have found a traditional and respected journalist to write up a story for PR, without a social presence, he’s not going to be the best bet.
Innovative PR agencies already know this and have been integrating new media into their job for quite some time. However, recently the lines have blurred somewhat between PR and SEO, including social.
Now is an ideal time for the disciplines to at least overlap, as while PR teams are still approaching the web with a “one size fits all” approach, this is no longer the best avenue.
Personalisation and humanity
For the most part, this is because the nature of social has changed the way that companies interact with consumers. As we know, social is a personalised experience, one that depends on the ability to have a conversation that’s human and doesn’t use the stuffy corporate persona.
This is where PR can take its biggest lessons from SEO, as rather than sending out a mass mailing to hundreds of journalists, a more tailored and targeted approach is necessary.
Consider outreach as a superb example of this; those that do it well recognise the need to build relationships, rather than taking the scattergun approach. This means researching and finding influencers within a niche and approaching them directly with a view to them creating a blog around the product. This also means focusing on a few select influencers with a personalised message, researching what they do and getting to know them. It’s not that hard to find out somebody’s name and use it, and for the most part, there will be lots of information on social such as LinkedIn and Twitter accounts and Facebook (pages or follow an individual).
Offering value to influencers
Once you have identified influencers in the sphere in which you’re working, you can keep track of them using CRM for future reference and relationship building. Then it’s a case of deciding what you’ve got to offer them as a reason they might want to blog about products or run a story on your client.
This should be the focus of the outreach message that you send to influencers, not thinking about what they can give you (such as a link or promotion), but what you can give them.
• What you’re offering that others can’t – is it unique?
• What do you have to back this up, links, images, further information?
• What’s your call to action? What do you hope to achieve?
• What value are you offering to the blogger’s audience?
Of course, this is just a tiny part of the PR/SEO exercise and it’s becoming more the case that a unified approach must be taken. A blog on PR-Squared points out that this should be thought of as the “Awareness Scale”, which is “a simple way of thinking about how Social Media, Public Relations and Advertising fit together in an ideal way”.
Where social comes in
Social is ongoing behaviour that “pays homage to grass roots communication”, fusing together monitoring, customer relationships, branding and goodwill.
For the PR professional, social media can go some way to leading the consumer into an outreach program that appears in mainstream media channels. While advertising will help to strengthen a brand, due to reinforcement of the central message, social allows PR people to talk to the audience more directly. If nothing else, this is an excellent way to measure what the target audience wants and needs.
However, it should be borne in mind that the key message has to remain uniform across all the platforms employed. So the brand identity needs to be strongly implemented and PR workers should have a real sense of all aspects of this, including tone, style, colours and so on.
This is because social is very much in the public domain, so just one slip-up when it comes to brand identity can be a disaster. Make the brand voice powerful and recognisable; that’s the key.
Social, PR, advertising and SEO ultimately have the same goals
PR, advertising, SEO and social can all be said be interlocking, yet different, disciplines with essentially the same goals. The overlap can be used to the advantage of all of them, borrowing techniques from one to give to the other.
For example, social channels are useful for getting as much exposure for a client in as many places as possible. However, that doesn’t mean that they should all necessarily be used and the job of the PR and social media consultant is to find the best networks to suit their needs.
It’s often said that Facebook is no good for B2B, for example. I don’t actually agree that this is the case and think that all of the main networks have something to offer, it’s just a case of making it work for individual clients.
Facebook and Twitter are general markets that shouldn’t be ignored, but if you’re dealing with a B2B client that has a specific product, then LinkedIn has a lot of value. Having the social presence and improving social signals are key to all businesses though, especially since they are becoming more important to SEO all the time.
This is another area in which social media managers and PR professionals share the same goal. Those in PR have to be aware that it’s more important than ever to listen to consumers and clients.
A complaint on social media needn’t be a disaster, if the presence has been built to the point where it’s strong. It’s likely that if you have a good base of loyal followers, then when a complaint is made you can call upon them to help out.
This is a great PR exercise, as if you can get the followers talking to each other, there’s a very good chance they are going to be able to smooth over a situation on social and the client should come out stronger for it, if it’s managed properly.
There are numerous other ways in which PR, social and advertising (including SEO) can work together and at the moment, this is something that we’re beginning to see more and more of. By working together, these different marketing disciplines can come together and create a uniform and cohesive campaign.
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