{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

It is about time that the public relations industry got to grips with SEO. As part of my work I have spent a lot of time building an SEO PR proposition, however many agencies still ignore the subject.

Apart from a few savvy PR agencies, the majority of PRs just don’t understand the relationship between PR and search engine visibility, let alone how to measure if this visibility leads to some sort of ‘conversion.’

Frankly, it’s embarrassing.

Most public relations professionals are aware of some sort of link between PR and SEO and before you send out the lynch mob, those that read Econsultancy will probably be among the most well informed.

The close relationship of PR in SEO has come into the spotlight recent months thanks to the impact of certain black and white animals, i.e. Google’s Panda and Penguin updates which have forced some to review their search strategies and focus more on content. 

Why is SEO and PR converging? PR can influence all of these search engine ranking factors:  

(Source: SEOmoz via Planet Content)

The ways in which Search and PR can complement each other are much more fundamental than content alone. The problem is that many PR agencies are missing some killer opportunities: 

  • Search data can provide killer insights for building PR propositions, targeted campaigns and messaging. But how many agencies really use these insights?
  • PR coverage often includes links which influence PageRank, but how many agencies report on them or their impact? 
  • Public relations content can stimulate social sharing and other important search engine signals, but many agencies still focus on sentiment at the expense of how social influences search.
  • Recently Google has thrown AuthorRank into the mix which is another way in which PR content can influence search visibility by creating ‘super’ authors who will appear more often in SERPs 

There are countless other ways too. So, it is time for the PR agency big guns to step up and ‘own’ SEO right?  Well, something tells me this might be a way off yet.

The problem is that few PR agencies have the knowledge to be able to talk objectively about the subject matter because:

  • A shockingly low amount of PRs can demonstrate even a basic grasp of SEO, such as using Google’s keyword tool, planning meta data, trying to explain Google PageRank or even the basics like the value of links with anchor text (don’t believe me, just ask any SEO).
  • Few PRs still can assess a domain or blog based on its domain authority or ascertain its authority based on, say, how many inbound links it has.
  • Most agencies are unaware of a fact that most SEOs have known for years: that some of the most authoritative links pointing at a domain are often from PR and have been acquired often as a bi-product or even unintentionally.
  • Fewer agencies will actually report on the number or quality of links their PR campaigns generate, or better the impact on search visibility and onsite conversions.
  • A smaller number of agencies can use Google Analytics to track conversions and ROI (I mean properly use GA, like a search marketer can).
  • A much smaller amount will be winning business by selling SEO PR campaigns

If your PR agency is already doing at least the above then well done. If you have more advanced measurement principles then have a pat on the back and take the rest of the day off.  

James Crawford

Published 14 August, 2012 by James Crawford

James Crawford is MD at PR Agency One and a guest blogger on Econsultancy. 

1 more post from this author

Comments (56)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Avatar-blank-50x50

Chris Lee

Great piece James but couldn't help noticing that you've used an image which I presume you've sourced from my blog post: http://www.planetcontent.co.uk/brighton-seo-role-of-pr-social-media-in-high-search-ranking

I generated that image for a link building training course I ran at Brighton SEO in April 2012 using SEOmoz's latest Google algorithm estimate and adding the letters "PR" myself.

If this is the case I'd be grateful for a citation on the graphic (e.g. source: SEOmoz via Planet Content)

Many thanks
Chris

over 4 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Chris, Sorry about that. I had no idea it was your image. I'll add the appropriate credit now.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Chris Lee

Thanks Graham, much appreciated.

I'll drop you an email separately, I'd love to contribute blog posts for Econsultancy.

Cheers
Chris

over 4 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

No problem, my email address is in my profile.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

James Crawford

Hey Graham, the article is about PR and SEO but I see you have taken the link out to my website. It would be a fail on my part not to ask you to put it back in :-) Any chance.

As for the graphic the original one I submitted was sourced from SEOmoz.

over 4 years ago

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith, Director at eschermanSmall Business

James - as you probably know, I have been banging the SEO drum in the context of PR for many years now - and although I agree with much of the sentiment of your piece, I think the number of PR firms who "get" SEO is definitely on the rise (albeit from a low base). Certainly as a provider of SEO and analytics training to CIPR members, I can definitely attest to the large rise of attendees to these workshops - and the ongoing feedback from PR people who are actually implementing some meaningful SEO techniques (ie not the red herring of optimising press releases for example).

I think the bigger challenge is in the area of analytics. I entirely agree that many PR firms are missing out on the opportunity to really demonstrate the value of what they do by not appreciating what Google Analytics can provide for free - but it is also about moving clients away from vanity metrics like top level visitor traffic. For example, being able to use GA to show that visits from online press coverage results in more engaged and valuable visitors is surely the way forward. Using multi-channel funnels to demonstrate the direct and indirect contribution that PR activity makes to goals (of course, that presupposes that clients have goals defined - many don't - but again, this is another opportunity for savvy PR firms to prove their worth).

I agree that the PR sector still has a long way to go in terms of investing in SEO and analytics - there is clearly room for improvement, but I think that more PRs are making good progress than you might think ;)

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Nick Stamoulis

I have an SEO client that has a great PR team. They really do have 2-3 newsworthy releases each month going out and they get a fair amount of attention for each. But what kills me is that no matter what I say or do they don't optimize them for SEO! There is so much wasted potential because they almost never include links in the body and it's the same anchor text again and again in the boilerplate.

over 4 years ago

Stuart Bruce

Stuart Bruce, Principal at Stuart Bruce Associates

If you compare where the PR profession is today, with where it was even just two years ago, then you'll find it is in a much stronger position.

I think the real challenge is that the PR/SEO blend is still seen as something to be looked at by a 'specialist' within the team rather than something that is everyone's responsibility. It's about thinking about it properly at a strategic comms level and as a standard part of day to day activity. There is still too much emphasis on campaigns rather than the far more important long-term reputational importance of search.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Chris Lee

I agree with Stuart. Every PR should be thinking as an SEO in addition to the social head which they need.

As it is, SEOs are learning PR pretty quick as a way to build authoritative and diverse links, so those PRs that HAVEN'T got SEO yet built into their psyche had better wake up or start losing work to SEOs.

@Andrew Good points, as ever. I'd go beyond even the post-campaign analytics and always advise PRs to consider keyword-led campaigns, especially around seasonal SEO factors.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Adrian Johnson

I don't think we're anywhere close to a pivotal point, and I don’t have any evidence other than our own recent experience, but I’d say that inhouse digital decision-makers are increasingly starting to bring in PR and/or social media agencies for link generating briefs.

Work that, two or three years ago, would have gone straight to SEO agencies is now being tabled to agencies outside that particular discipline. Perhaps, if in a further two/three years, you were to chart the shift from traditional SEO agencies winning this sort of work versus PR/social/digital/other agencies winning it, the rate of change may well be reflective Google’s algorithmic updates.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Paul Rayment

Would anyone care to suggest some good resources for help on this subject, particularly the " basic grasp of SEO, such as using Google’s keyword tool, planning meta data" part?

over 4 years ago

Stuart Bruce

Stuart Bruce, Principal at Stuart Bruce Associates

Adrian raises an interesting point. One of the challenges that the PR industry, as opposed to the PR profession, has is that SEO/digital budgets are frequently much larger than PR budgets. It is the size of the beast, rather than skill or expertise, that is a factor in who gets the work. That's why I've noticed that digital/SEO agencies are increasingly keen to talk to me about how they can make their PR offer real, rather than the low-level tactical mish-mash that most offer at the moment. Digital/SEO agencies want to recruit good PR people and buy good PR consultancies. Some of them have the budgets to do it. Far fewer PR companies have the budgets to acquire decent sized SEO agencies.

over 4 years ago

Stuart Bruce

Stuart Bruce, Principal at Stuart Bruce Associates

@Paul Blatant plug for which I apologise in advance, but you could do worse than buy Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals and read @andrew's chapter and some of the others :-)

Disclaimer, both me and @andrew are co-authors.

over 4 years ago

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith, Director at eschermanSmall Business

@Chris - yes, sorry I wasn't clear - of course PRs should be using SEO tools and techniques as part of the planning process. It takes about a minute to use Google Insights for Search for example to check on key search volume trends, and to compare with sector averages - let alone the insight into seasonality, location, related searches, etc - if the Bank of England are happy to use this free tool for key economic indicators, surely PR folk could at least try it.

Or using the Google Keyword Tool to actually see how many people are actually searching for particular keyword terms (assuming they understand the distinction between broad, phrase and exact match). Think of the agony they will spare themselves when they point out to clients demanding to rank #1 for a keyword term that no one is searching for content with it (and yes, I know Google's Keyword Tool et al is less than perfect - but it is better than nothing at all).

Or being able to analyse WHY rival pages are ranking in the top slots - and being able to make informed decisions about whether an investment in SEO is even worthwhile (if you know that the number 1 ranked page is on a domain that's been around for 15 years and has acquired 50K quality backlinks, the likelihood that you are going to outrank it in the next 5 mins with a brand new page on a brand new domain is zero. Or else you are going to have to create content so compelling that gazillions of people on social networks will start linking to it so Google can't ignore the social signals and "freshness").

The best SEO firms have known for some time that getting links from high quality, high authority pages and sites is one of the key factors in SEO - and media sites often fit the bill - and who is, in theory, better qualified to influence the placement of that quality content (with links)? I thought it was very interesting that one of the SEO sector's leading lights - Kevin Gibbons - has set up a content marketing agency - to all intents and purposes, they are doing work that many PR firms profess to do ie create great editorial led content. The advantage Kevin has of course is much greater experience in terms of the SEO process - but I think the general point is that SEO and PR really are converging - those that can truly combine both sides of the equation are the ones that will be better placed to succeed.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Paul Rayment

@stuart - looks good, I'm heading over to Amazon now.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Aimee Carmichael

thanks for this article it is excellent and I agree with the points.

I work with a couple of PR /marketing agencies across digital comms and social media and encourage them to adopt some of those above measurement metrics as well as offering some training and instructions on how to use certain tools. I also try and help them win or retain this digital business which many PRs become frustrated about when they lose what should be communications budgets to digital agencies/providers.

However there is definitely a skills shortage there and (I believe) only a small number of PR agencies understand the opportunities that a more in-depth knowledge of SEO would give them - both for showing value to their existing clients and in winning new business.

I would also like to see more PRs and digital agencies working together in some cases.

Thanks for a great post. It is a shame that it might not get the visibility from the audience that most needs to read it here.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Richard

Having worked in-house as a PR/SEO professional and currently at a PR Agency in a similar role, I am of the opinion that a vast amount of companies / agencies still haven't grasped the value of Online PR for SEO. Particularly the benefits of online coverage vs. print coverage.

Many clients and indeed PRs are perpetuating the desire for print coverage, which, although beneficial in its own way, is rather short-lived (generally speaking). I feel there is, and always has been, a slight disregard for online coverage for being too 'easily' achieved in comparison to print, and therefore not as valuable.

I think PRs need to communicate the tangible benefits of online coverage over print to their clients. A piece of online coverage with a follow link from a reputable website with a high PageRank has long-term benefits in respect of increasing rankings, traffic, and therefore leads. Print coverage in a daily paper is potentially read by large volumes, yes, but it doesn't allow for immediate action and is therefore often forgotten.

So, in essence, online coverage with a link (in most cases) is for life, not to mention how measurable its success is with tools such as Google Analytics.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Phil Reed

I'm afraid PR and analytics have never been the best of bedfellows.

The decades-old debate into how PR effectiveness should be measured (and the relative lack of real progress made there, despite claims to the contrary) tells you how much the PR industry generally struggles with anything beyond the most basic analysis. Offline, AVEs still rule. Online, it's all about followers, likes, fans and hits. Measuring the depth of the engagement? Tracking social media content into conversion? Forget it. So I'm not surprised very few PR agencies get the links between PR and search.

But, to be fair to PRs, SEO and search marketing are specialist skillsets, so to expect them to become search experts (or even search proficient) is somewhat optimistic.

So if we accept that most PRs don't get SEO, and probably never will, the real question becomes - how do we demonstrate the effectiveness of PR in search, and vice versa?

I think the answer is simple - PR agencies and in-house teams need to hire (or acquire) that SEO expertise and make it integral to their campaign planning and analysis, building search requirements into campaign objectives. And SEO firms need to take a similar approach to PR.

A PR trying to "think as an SEO", as someone suggested, will never be as effective as a PR and SEO working together, combining their skills.

I agree with Andrew Smith that SEO agencies have recognised how PR can support their campaigns, and that trend will surely continue. PR agencies (bar an enlightened minority) need to start looking beyond their industry or risk being marginalised.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Andy Barr

Nice article Mr C.

Not being the sharpest of tools in the box I will leave the wider debate on SEO & PR to loftier thinkers.

My only observation is that at a grass roots level we see very few PR Course grads coming through with little if any SEO knowledge at all.

We recently interviewed for two positions and none of the PR course grads we invited in had a clue about SEO.

This is something we highlighted around 3 years ago and even spoke to several Uni's about when PRWeek ran our comments so it is a real shame that (seemingly) very few Uni's have added SEO to their syllabus.

IMHO I think this needs to happen before we will see a fundamental shift towards PR's understanding SEO.

That being said, whilst many PR agencies may struggle with SEO, they probably take the best course of action and keep schtum. Compare this to the SEO company side of things, where (caveat; the minority) some know very little about good PR tactics but instead of keeping quiet, talk a load of sh*t about how to do PR - which is usually, bang it onto every free wire known to man (or woman). :-)

Andy

over 4 years ago

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith, Director at eschermanSmall Business

@richard The continuing bias towards print in much of the PR world still amazes me. The amount of time we spend consuming print based content continues to dwindle (check out slide 17 on Mary Meeker's slide deck here: http://techcrunch.com/2012/05/30/heres-kleiner-partner-mary-meekers-latest-data-dump-mind-the-mobile-monetization-gap/)

And print coverage always had a short shelf life (3hrs for national press coverage). I have a client that still gets valuable traffic from a piece that appeared in the Telegraph online nearly 4 years ago. Using Google Analytics we can show that visitors coming via this route spend x4 more time on site and consume x5 more content than site average. We can also show the contribution this specific source makes to sales (it is an e-commerce site). Interestingly, visits from online coverage are generally assistive to a sale rather than generating sales directly - but the point is we can prove that indirect contribution rather than making vague claims for the value of PR.

over 4 years ago

Ben Potter

Ben Potter, Director at Ben Potter - new business mentor

Being totally selfish about it, the longer PR agencies don't 'get it', the better for us digital marketers. It allows forward thinking search agencies to grab budget that in the past they may not have been equipped to. SEO agencies are bringing in staff with traditional PR backgrounds and then educating them on how to join the dots.

It means SEO's can do something that many traditional PR's cannot; measure the output of PR based activity against commercial goals by aligning coverage and links with keywords and revenue.

With budgets squeezed and FD's questioning every penny spent this is a very attractive proposition in the current climate.

over 4 years ago

Ed Lamb

Ed Lamb, Client Services Director at Propellernet

Always an interesting debate in this area! What I find interesting is the view from the PR industry on SEO and digital agencies. The assumption is that SEO agencies are all using a huge array of PR tactics to engage with influencers and link build.

The fact is that SEO agencies often understand what is required to rank highly but lack the PR/media relations skills required to make it a reality. So at that point they have two choices - either buy links and use dodgy tactics, or partner with a search/digital savvy PR (or possibly social) agency.

There really are very few SEO agencies that have integrated PR and media relations skills with the technical/analytical skills and content strategy required for successful SEO. So it's an open door for PR agencies to get involved and surely consolidation across tech-focussed SEO agencies and digitally-savvy PR agencies (or social agencies that understand search) is a certainty.

The good news for search agencies like the one I work for (which integrated PR skills back in 2008) is that it takes years, and investment, to bring together the different skillsets/cultures into one cohesive unit. So consolidation is the first step - a programme of investment and (internal) training would then be required before there was a consistent understanding of the full breadth of SEO across the consolidated agency, and the capability for top quality SEO.

It's certainly an amazingly interesting time to be involved in it all though and it will be fascinating to see how both the PR and SEO industries develop.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Tim Aldiss

Completely agree with this - it's how to build a brand online - and this is now what Google looks for to give you visibility in it's results.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Hugh Anderson, Co-Founder & Director at Forth Metrics Limited

This is a great debate on a subject that always stirs up some interest.
As ever I completely agree with Andrew, particularly as summed up in his last sentence - SEO and PR are converging and those that can combine the expertise will succeed.
From what I hear and see I think that whilst there are some great examples of agencies who have embraced the changes (like Speed and Bottle), the silent mass of PRs have a lot of work to do to get there. Accepting the point that this is way out of the comfort zone for many traditional PRs, I would think there are a couple of options:
1 Attend one of Andrew's CIPR courses!
2 Get the most willing and digitally savvy person in the organisation to invest a day in getting familiar with Google Analytics, Insights for Search, the Keyword tool, and SEO for beginners (just Google it - loads of free guides), or
3 Either employ someone to whom SEO is second nature or buddy up with them for a knowledge exchange.
And when the penny drops and this gets taken seriously, have a shot at Jay Baer's "23 Social and Digital Services Your Agency Should be Selling (but probably isn't)" - now that's the future! :)

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Julio Romo, Communications Consultant and Digital Strategist at twofourseven

This is a fantastic debate. Great to James and Graham for hosting it here.

Some great points being made especially by Andrew and Stuart.

From my perspective the problem still lies in the perception of digital and social within many organisations. Senior executives think of it as an add on rather than a must-have, while juniors ignore it, most often because of the lack of time that it's given by campaign decision-makers.

Working not just here in the UK, but also overseas in Europe, the Gulf and Asia the problem is the little understanding of how SEO and Analytics can strengthen the proposition being pitched to audiences.

The landscape has changed, as have the required skill-sets to be a modern day Communicator. I am not a fan of the term PR in it's present term.

Ben hit's the nail on the head with regards to 'the longer PR agencies don't 'get it', the better for us digital marketers.' The problem though is digital marketeers and PRs reach the audience through different means. There is a need for both skill sets. Leaving it all to marketing will not, IMO, generate the level of brand buy-in that a clients would rightly want. Digital, SEO and Analytics can help achieve that holy grail of Integrated Comms.

SEO and Analytics have actually created more work in the development of campaigns, something that few want to pay for. Invest though and you will be rewarded.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Rahman @ Travel Marketing Blog

It's also shocking to see that even those who care about links and SEO, include the links as complete URL like they've never heard of anchor text, keywords, etc. This is something you even see at the most famous PR distribution websites.

I don't know if they recommend the right practice or not, but companies should listen to such tips by PR distribution sites.

Rahman Mehraby
TraveList Marketing Blog

over 4 years ago

James Crawford

James Crawford, Managing Director at PR Agency One

@Rahman Mehraby I like to mix it up actually with a mix of anchor text and full urls. The only reason for full urls is that if you are relying on a journalist to include a link they are more likely to include a full url, as some can't or won't copy and paste anchor text links. I.e. you are forcing inclusion of the link

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Martin Bartle, Global Communications and E-commerce Director at Agent Provocateur

I've got mixed feelings on this - on the one hand I'm equally frustrated that the PR industry hasn't been quick to pick up on an opportunity to increase and measure their effectiveness, on the other I think SEO experts tend to underestimate how much PRs do that they can't. Establishing and maintaining media relationships, creating unique and compelling content/events, shaping customer relationship strategies, crisis management - they're all very specialist skills. Adding some SEO expertise is the icing on the cake, but the baking the cake is the difficult bit.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Charles Clayton

Some great comments and observations. Moving PR companies from just delivering fluffy vanity exercises to the harsh commercial reality of online is difficult for many of them. Most people from a print background just don't get it.
Likewise, Ad agencies are one type of company that we just won't work with....most are stuck in promotional old style push marketing arty-farty land with practically no written content or unique offering.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Steve Earl

No need to have even a basic grasp of search to find you lot - you're always here commenting on Econsultancy content!

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Dave Harrison, Senior Off-Page Executive at Search Laboratory

I've worked in PR agencies, and now work in SEO. My experience is that there is not a great deal of difference between traditional PR and off-page SEO (obviously, on-page is a different kettle of fish entirely). At the heart is creating great content to get you or your client coverage. If you are going this for PR reasons, then why not leverage your existing PR for SEO benefits?

On the other hand, I know SEO's who idea of PR is sending a spammy press release over a low-quality syndication service. Thankfully though, these seem to be dying out due to the Panda and in particular Penguin update (what next, Porcupine?)these seem to be dying out.

I can't remember where I first saw it, but I've repeated this line several times "Done correctly, PR is link building on steroids".

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Mark Hughes

@Paul Rayment you could do much worse than trying this - http://www.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-seo.

But at the beginning, the best thing to do is play around with Analytics, dig around and see how detailed the stats can be. You don't need to be an advanced user to get started - it's designed to be intuitive.

The next thing you should do is sign up for a free months trial of SEOmoz - http://mz.cm/SlNy77 - navigate to the campaigns tab, and run a campaign for your website. Within a day or two, you will have tonnes of insight into how to better optimise your pages.

Anyone who is serious about knowing SEO should do this, as you will learn the absolute minimum basics very, very quickly.

over 4 years ago

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith, Director at eschermanSmall Business

Can you imagine the following exchange between a PR and a journalist?

Dear Journalist X,

I’d like my client to benefit as much as possible from the massive authority of your web site domain. And the value of a link from a page such as the one you are going to create by writing an insanely positive piece about my client.

I’d really like you to use the link I’ve provided with the specific anchor text I’ve suggested. And if you could place the link as close to the beginning of the article as possible, that would be really appreciated. Oh, and don’t forget to include my keyword in the page title as well. Other than that, you have full freedom to write what you like (but again, if you wouldn’t mind seeding your piece with my requested keyword, that would be fab too - but not too many mind. Google is quite hot on keyword stuffing these days).

Many thanks in advance for making my life easy.

Best
Online PR

Dear Online PR,

Thanks for your SEO requests. I always have one key objective in mind - how do I provide maximum value to my readers. I can appreciate you would like me to do all of these SEO things to benefit you and your client. But making life easy for you isn’t my job. If I choose to include a link, it’ll be because I think doing so will be of benefit to my readers. And I’ll decide what anchor text to use (if any). And I’ll decide what I write about your client. If anything.

I’m sure you’ll understand my position on this.

Best
Journalist

I exaggerate for effect, but I get the impression that some people from an SEO background don’t quite get the nuance of the role of the journalist in all of this.

over 4 years ago

Stefan Hull

Stefan Hull, Insight Director at Propellernet

I feel like we've been here several times before but I'd like to think we can move things on.
In my experience, 95%+ of PR agencies don't 'get' search, not because many PRs don't want to but because outdated organisational structures and ingrained ways of thinking make it difficult for them to do do.
And, in my experience, 95%+ of search agencies don't get PR, too often mistaking basic PR tactics for strategies and links for authority.
So, I think we can say that, in the short term, this is - potentially - good news for the 5% on each side of the tug of war. Provided clients can see through the 95%+.
However, here are two, related questions I'd like to consider:
(1) Will search agencies exist in ten years' time?
(2) What about PR agencies?
I don't think either will. That's the real mid and long-term challenge.
Both industries emerged by way of response to circumstances and opportunities and have flourished while those circumstances remained relatively stable.
But the landscape has changed and is changing at such a rate that, if we remain focused on the PR vs. Search 'struggle' we'll all cease to be relevant.
Our existing skills and experience will remain relevant but the way the industries work must fundamentally change.
The growth in opportunities for amazing content - for recommendation rather than relevance - is just one example of an opportunity that 'traditional' PR and search agencies are ill equipped to act upon.
I'm sure you can think of more.
The good news is that integrated agencies (many of which seem to bring competency silos (SEO, PPC, social etc.) under one roof without properly integrating them) probably aren't equipped to reimagine themselves for this new world either.
There are a few agencies out there moving to 'higher ground' as things change faster than ever.
Those are the agencies I'm interested in, regardless of which side of the PR/search/social/content/whatever fence they're on.
I'm sure those are the agencies clients will be interested in too. Provided they're structured for these new circumstances too. (And that's another major challenge in the short, medium and long term)
I do like the fact that James' post has got us discussing this.
It's obviously worth discussing.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Martin Bartle, Global Communications and E-commerce Director at Agent Provocateur

@andrewsmith - couldn't agree more. Yes, PRs need to get to grips with SEO techniques but, seriously, SEOs, don't underestimate the skills/experience required for good PR.

over 4 years ago

James Crawford

James Crawford, Managing Director at PR Agency One

@martin Bartle Ah the voice of reason... Surely the internet is about trolling instead of reasoning? Seriously though, I agree with you.

over 4 years ago

Kelvin Newman

Kelvin Newman, Creative Director at SiteVisibility

I'm not sure can add much to the healthy debate above other than if I'd had to guess who'd comment on this thread I reckon I could have predicted with a certain level of accuracy.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

cory josue

I think that its about time that the PR should take notice of SEO and PPC advertising because for all we know, it will only take some time before it catches up. It is important for the people in Public Relations to get to know SEO because it can be an advantage to them in the future.

over 4 years ago

James Crawford

James Crawford, Managing Director at PR Agency One

@Kelvin So true. We are missing Lexi. @simon wharton made a point on Twitter that there were about 10 PRs who get SEO. While there are more than this he has a point that it is the same old voices.

over 4 years ago

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith, Director at eschermanSmall Business

@james Perhaps we should form the PR SEO Bores club? ;)

over 4 years ago

Kelvin Newman

Kelvin Newman, Creative Director at SiteVisibility

A mini-conf/skills swap/collective moan meet-up had crossed my mind!

over 4 years ago

James Crawford

James Crawford, Managing Director at PR Agency One

@andrew Sounds like a plan. Over on Twitter @Simon Wharton and @Andybarr were having some good 'banter'. Could be merged with fight club?

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Rachel Buck, Marketing Coordinator at Foolproof Ltd.Enterprise

Great debate guys.
In my opinion there's also an issue around silos; PR, marketing, web, social and SEO often still sit in separate departments or with separate suppliers. There needs to be someone, or department, responsible for making sure all the different facets are working in unison to shared business objectives.
Although I agree that PR professionals must have an understanding of SEO, and it would be in their benefit to report on this to their client, they aren't the experts in this field so the business needs to make sure that they understand what the objectives are and to ensure these are followed through in any PR activity. If the agency doesn't play ball I'd be wondering why I was working with them at all.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Martin Bartle, Global Communications and E-commerce Director at Agent Provocateur

@James Crawford - I'd love to see the list of SEOs able to pitch a feature story to Vogue.com whilst organising a fashion show that gets international media coverage, the best models in the world to walk for free and a partnership with a major makeup/haircare brand. Sounds fluffy? The list of what PRs don't know about SEO is shorter than the list of what SEOs couldn't do because it's a totally different skill set.

over 4 years ago

Stuart Bruce

Stuart Bruce, Principal at Stuart Bruce Associates

A PR SEOs Bores Club skill swap/conference/booze-up sounds like a good idea to me :-)

over 4 years ago

Lotte  Mahon

Lotte Mahon, The Vine

Really enjoyed this article and having worked for an SEO agency and now running a small PR and marketing agency, I agree that a mutual lack of understanding is the main issue. Perhaps this boils down to a nervousness from both sides when it comes to knowledge sharing? Without sounding too hippy-dippy, a willingness to talk through plans of action and greater encouragement from clients to work collaboratively right from the start of the project would be a step in the right direction. Social media and content marketing are the points at which both are most likely to meet at the moment. I wrote a piece for Visibility magazine 5 years ago on online PR and although it focuses primarily on SEO PR releases, it's is surprising that SEO and PR agencies are still so often in separate camps. http://www.visibilitymagazine.com/guava/lotte-mahon/on-and-offline-pr-the-perfect-marriage#

over 4 years ago

Stefan Hull

Stefan Hull, Insight Director at Propellernet

I'm slightly confused in that we keep talking about SEOs as a homogenous mass. PRs aren't and we're not either...

If we're expecting each and every SEO/PR/whatever to (a) analyse search data (b) extrapolate insight from said data (c) develop compelling content for relevance and recommendation (d) sell in said ideas and cultivate influencer relationships to drive authority (e) everything else I've missed, we're kidding ourselves.

It's about building a team of people with (a) technical skills (b) creative minds and (c) PR and communications experience - sometimes (rarely) you find someone with the skills, experience and aptitude to do the lot (and enjoy doing it).

And I mean rare as in hen's teeth rare.

Otherwise, it's about taking advantage of the opportunity through teamwork.

I know people that are technical experts and who don't want to spend their days selling in (they just wouldn't enjoy it). I know others with technical chops but who are from a PR background and who love working with influencers etc.

I think both (and all in between) are SEOs, provided they are contributing to SEO results.

I also think the days of the one-man/woman-band SEO are numbered (probably reflects why we're having this debate) but that's sort of another discussion...

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Fran Swaine

Even though I've worked with many SEO agencies over the years - now I'm consulting I do feel a little bit like a small fish in a big pond - but nevertheless here is my two pence worth.

I think both PRs and SEOs can learn a lot from each other; it's very easy to point the finger at the PRs but first it's worth looking in the mirror. As an SEO - no one is expecting you to be an expert in PR (unless of course you and/or your agency/company are claiming this is a skill you offer) but a good understanding can make you better at your job.

I think the skill swap idea mentioned is key to gaining better insights. A few months ago I in fact did a skill swap with a company who do traditional PR. It was a real eye opener - and gave me a much better understanding of how PR works.

It was really interesting to find out how much this company knew about SEO - and it was practically nothing - which actually I found shocking. However, I think both of us went away knowing that the knowledge we gained would allow us to get out of our little siloed thinking. I'm by no means now a PR expert, and I certainly don't offer it as a service and in fact, if my clients asked me for this service then I'd point them in the direction of a good PR firm. However, I think stepping outside your comfort zone and gaining a little more awareness and understanding of other areas can only be a positive thing.

I too saw Lexi Mills discuss this at the last Brighton SEO and she put across the argument about how SEOs and PRs can benefit from each other beautifully!

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Oconnor

Thanks in support of sharing such a nice thinking, piece of writing is nice, thats why i
have read it completely

over 4 years ago

Kelvin Newman

Kelvin Newman, Creative Director at SiteVisibility

Now I wonder if the person who left that last comment might describe themselves as an SEO or a PR ;)

over 4 years ago

James Crawford

James Crawford, Managing Director at PR Agency One

@kelvin I must visit that website he mentioned hotpennystockstowatchfor.com ? That comment was so persuasive.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

David Quaid

It makes a lot of sense. PR people are used to being Gatekeepers to the Gatekeepers (Journalists). Just now, the walls are gone and people can go around them.

Lets not kid ourselves about how much of a privileged position this was and how much they need to be seen to ignore search?

I was recently told by a PR in Ireland that SEO was dead (wonder where he got that from) and that Social Media replace it somehow (amazing).

"I don't like it, so I will ignore it and call it dead" is the war cry of the PR Tribe.

Journalists are now posting weekly about twitter being bad (because twitter is an opinion piece?)

Journalists don't sell facts and they've been writing content for the editor who we assumed knew what the user wanted. Now that the user can get what they want online, media is falling over trying to kill it off.

Content and knowledge are very broad: Typically news is written to be short, concise and most of the time its just opinion. Who wouldn't want to protect it so that millions of readers only read their opinion. And couldn't disagree with it?

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Magnuson

I every time spent my half an hour to read this blog's articles daily along with a mug of coffee.

about 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Nathan Haze

I was actually wondering how, if and to what extent PR affected seo. Glad I came across this piece, it actually cleared up some confusion and some questions I had.

Thanks.

about 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Angel Zelm

Just stumbled onto this, very informative but I was wondering how much of this if any of this is still relevant?

almost 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Charles Taylor

I realize this article is from several months ago but I love it. I've been trying to warn my fellow SEO folks that of PR agencies ever figure out SEO and start getting into the business they could put us out of business very quickly.

almost 4 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.