Why We Need PR & SEO (and For Them To Work Together)

March 7, 2013

PR & SEO are best friends in an image from http://eddiessolitude.blogspot.com

PR and SEO share many qualities. Both strive to expand the reach of an organization by amplifying its voice. Both create campaigns to engage an audience through the dissemination of relevant information. They even use similar tools for digital traffic analysis, media relations and social media.

These blurring lines are being embraced. Publicists now provide keyword analysis with PR packages and SEO agencies include press release writing with search marketing projects. Service offerings have been expanded so everyone can be a one-stop shop for online marketing.

But more is not always merrier.

There are lots of reasons that SEOs would rather be subjected to source code than a camera–for one, we tend to sweat, and that never looks good in HD. However, give us access to Google Analytics and the HTML in a head tag, and we really shine (in a good way). Those differences are what make both publicists and SEOs essential to the overall marketing initiative. Focusing on our strengths allows us to be more successful.

That does not mean we should be siloed in our separate corners of the office. Working together allows one to support the other, maximizing online marketing results. To do that, we must meet in the middle: somewhere in between the social media spotlight and introverted data analysis.

Are you a publicist who works with SEOs or a SEO who works with publicists? Here are several things to understand about the other.

Things SEOs Should Know about PR

Online PR requires offline relationships which is not always how SEOs prefer to make connections. The adage “It’s not what you know, but who you know” should be branded on every marketer’s brain, particularly here in Pittsburgh, where 2 million people are within two degrees of separation. Successful outreach campaigns start with your address book.

Publicists build brands. Are you perturbed by the (not provided) cloud that covers half of your data? Imagine trying to quantify brand sentiment or awareness. PR professionals have numbers to monitor and evaluate, but they are sometimes less absolute than others used in inbound marketing. That’s how it goes, and it leads to the final point:

Eighty percent of PR is emotion. Some of the finest examples of PR come from politics, where people must feel something to believe in it. The PR industry in America took shape during World War I (and again in WWII) as a way to motivate a democracy through patriotism. Great PR connects with people on an emotional level, which can be hard to grasp by the scientific mind of a SEO.

Things Publicists Should Know about SEO

Eighty percent of SEO is science. SEOs need to see it to believe it. Correlation is the extent of our creativity so if you hope to motivate a SEO, you need to have the numbers to support your argument. That doesn’t mean we can’t contribute to PR. We know lots about nofollow links in the media.

There’s more to SEO than keywords. That’s like saying PR is about words. SEO is about making websites accessible to search engines so content can be understood and added to the online information exchange. If a search engine can’t interpret what you are saying, it does not matter how loud you yell. Accessibility is key.

What is non-branded organic search traffic? First, let’s break it up. Search traffic refers to all visits that arrive at your site from search engines. Organic means that the visitor did not click on a pay-per-click ad in the search results. Non-branded traffic excludes any queries with the name of your brand. This number tells us about the people who used a search engine to answer a question without a destination in mind. These are likely new potential customers who are learning about the organization for the first time.

I hope this insight allows for better interoffice (or agency) relationships. If publicists and SEOs can better understand the other and their goals, we can work together and accomplish great things.

What’s been your experience with the (sometimes fine) lines between SEO and PR?