tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/online-pr Latest Online PR content from Econsultancy 2018-06-04T09:00:00+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/70056 2018-06-04T09:00:00+01:00 2018-06-04T09:00:00+01:00 Digital PR: A guide to choosing & reporting on KPIs Elli Bishop <p>But what exactly should you be measuring?</p> <p>This post will show you exactly what to measure, how to create a solid link framework for specialists to work within, and how to talk about the complexities of those KPIs with a digital PR team.</p> <p>By now you should know that digital PR is not just about link building—it’s about creating a “digital footprint” for your brand by conspicuously and inconspicuously inserting it into your customers’ digital experience on a variety of levels. Doing so will definitely earn you links, but links alone aren’t impressive to key stakeholders unless you know how to effectively report on their impact. </p> <h3>Establishing a link framework to build your KPIs </h3> <p>The first step to measuring the success of your digital PR efforts is figuring out what kind of links you need, where to get them from, where they should point to, and in what proportions—this is called your link framework. From there, you can assign a value to various links, mentions, and coverage, track their impact, and ultimately prove the real value of your digital PR (which you’ll realize spans well beyond the obvious SEO impact).</p> <p>In order to establish a natural, well-balanced backlink profile, it’s important for your specialist and SEO to establish priority page categories, wherein you identify specific priority pages for link building. Here is a common example of a framework for a site that targets both on a national and local level: </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/4932/kpi_framework.png" alt="kpi framework" width="615"></p> <p>This framework consists of links to core pages (top level category/product/service pages), local pages (geographically specific product/services pages), and editorial pages (typically hosted on the blog). For any websites only concerned with broader, national performance, your framework would only include core and editorial pages. </p> <p>Although this framework generally works for most website types, the proportions of links needed to those categories varies based on the SEO needs at any given time.  Here are a few situations where the needs may shift:</p> <ul> <li>If we need a high quantity of links to increase the site’s overall domain authority, we will ramp up production of <strong>editorial</strong> pieces in order to earn a lot of coverage in a short amount of time.  </li> <li>If we’re slipping in rankings for a head term on one of our <strong>core pages</strong>, the specialist will build targeted, authoritative links to that page (although fewer, they’re powerful).   </li> <li>If we publish new <strong>local product pages</strong> (or really any new pages), we know that they need a few links to start ranking, so we’ll have the specialist seek out local link opportunities. </li> </ul> <p>In general, our specialists are expected to earn links to the pages within our framework from as many new domains as possible, consistently month over month.  Every site needs a healthy blend of link quantity, link authority, and link utility.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/4933/link_framework.png" alt="link framework" width="615"> </p> <p>Link quantity is self-explanatory. When I say link authority, I mean links from the sites that are the clear authority or thought leader in your vertical. When it comes to link utility, I am referring to the usefulness of the link. In my book, a clicked link is always better than an unclicked link, but we’ll go into this in greater detail below. Now a link from an authoritative site could prove to be quite useful to the user, meaning that it would solve for both the authority and utility link needs; these categories are certainly not mutually exclusive.</p> <p>Now that we have a framework, let’s jump right into the primary digital PR KPIs. </p> <h3>KPIs</h3> <p>This section breaks down the core KPIs and goes into detail about the complexities, exceptions, and considerations for each of them.</p> <p>At <a href="https://www.clearlink.com/solutions/marketing/">Clearlink</a>, we use three primary KPIs to measure the effectiveness of our 20+ Digital PR specialists and their impact on individual sites: <strong>links, referral traffic from links, and brand awareness.</strong> </p> <h3>1. Backlinks</h3> <p>Yep, links are still a primary ranking factor. If your goal is to get your site to rank in organic search, the main KPI for your specialist should be link numbers. Your link framework will create a clear space for your specialists to work within on YOUR site, but you’ll also need to assign value to different types of links in order to rein in specialists as they scour the web for opportunity.</p> <h3>Assessing link value:</h3> <p>There are a variety of factors that go into evaluating the quality of a link. These are important factors for your specialist to consider and measure when determining whether or not a link is worth going after:</p> <h4><strong><a href="https://moz.com/learn/seo/domain-authority">Domain authority</a> (DA) or <a href="https://ahrefs.com/blog/domain-rating/">domain rating</a> (DR)</strong></h4> <p>You can assess the domain authority of a site using tools like the MozBar or the Ahrefs SEO Toolbar; both rate a website’s authority on a scale of 1 to 100. It’s important to note that each of these tools calculate domain authority slightly differently, so determine which source you’d like your specialists to use and stick to it. Let’s use DA for the remainder of the post.</p> <p>DA of a site matters if you’re trying to influence site rankings. As a general rule of thumb, use DA to get an initial gut check about a website as you’re prospecting, but it’s not the be-all end-all. Here are a few examples where DA can be tossed aside:</p> <ul> <li>DA might not matter as much to a brand who’s just trying to build awareness in small, engaged, niche online communities. </li> <li>There are plenty of relevant, lower DA sites that can have a significant impact on a page or a site. A new blog that’s publishing quality, relevant, fresh content consistently with high levels of article engagement—be it in the comments or on social—is not something to be ignored! If the blog continues on that trajectory, a link on their site in a popular post or resource page will certainly be valuable in time. </li> <li>If you’re a landscaping company in Austin, a link from the <a href="https://www.tnlaonline.org/">Texas Nursery &amp; Landscape Association</a> with a seemingly low DA of 34 will almost definitely give your site a boost, potentially even more so than a link in an article in Better Homes and Gardens, which boasts a DA of 86. Why? Well, it’s no surprise that an authoritative, big-name publication like BHG comes with a high DA, but it’s no secret who they’re really beholden to. Hint: it’s NOT always the user; it’s the advertisers. Google sees that. And you can see that by just looking at their homepage.</li> </ul> <p>When in doubt, use the considerations below to add value to a link, no matter the DA of the site! But yes… at the end of the day, a do-follow link on a relevant site with a DA of 90 is still highly valuable and worth the work.</p> <h4><strong>Anchor text</strong></h4> <p>For the sake of building a natural backlink profile, the only thing that’s important to me when it comes to anchor text is that the link tells the reader what they’ll be getting when they click it. The more “clickable” you can make it with using click here, the better.</p> <p>One exception to that rule is when your SEO specialist identifies a page that could REALLY use a couple anchor text specific links (or even branded home page links) to bump it up a position or a page. As far as reporting goes, we monitor anchor text but try not to make it a big focus for the specialists. This leads nicely into link placement.</p> <h4><strong>Link placement</strong></h4> <p>Contextual, editorial links are easy to build and work into an article, but getting them to stick is a struggle. For that reason, placement is honestly low on my list of considerations given the following dilemma: if you’re building contextual links in contributed content, you don’t want the link to stick out like a sore thumb during the editing process. You want to blend it in all while making it helpful and useful to the user. If the specialist has any sort of control over this, I ask them to consider how well the words surrounding the link entice the reader to click on it and aim to place links closer to the top of an article where the reader may be more likely to engage.</p> <p>With standard resource list link building, a good specialist can sweet talk a webmaster into putting their link at the top of a list of helpful resources, but in general, prime placement will come with better relationships where trust has been established.</p> <h4>Destination URL</h4> <p>I don’t give new specialists any link targets until they earn their first handful of links. At that point, I show them their site’s link framework and make sure their SEO is updating their list of “target link destinations” for them to focus on. Again, relevant links to random pages are great for boosting overall domain authority slowly over time, but a relevant link to your money-making pages is gold. </p> <h4>Relevance</h4> <p>With Google’s core algorithm straight-up ignoring (rather than penalizing) sites with shady or questionable links, I say relevance or bust when it comes to link building! Don’t let your specialists waste time earning irrelevant links to hit their link numbers, even if it’s a top-tier link.</p> <h4>Follow vs. no-follow</h4> <p>Follow links are always preferable for SEO’s sake, but if your no-follows drive any sort of qualified referral traffic, I say keep ‘em comin’. This role is a PR/SEO blend, afterall. Don’t forget the PR part!</p> <h4>Usefulness</h4> <p>Links don’t have to be clicked to be valuable, but how could they not be considered more valuable if people actually use them?! We’ll talk more about referrals in the next section. </p> <p>My general sentiment around links? When the barrier to entry to earn a relevant link on a trustworthy site is high—i.e. the site has a strenuous editorial process or you really had to advocate for the placement of it—it’s worth going after!</p> <p><strong>Just my two cents:</strong> Your SEOs shouldn’t be building your links! Not only is the skillset of an SEO vastly different from that of a digital PR specialist, but digital PR is a full-time job, and once again, it’s not just about link building. Let your SEOs focus on the technical optimizations, and get your digital PRs to focus on research, relationships, writing, content creation, and affecting the linkability of your core content.</p> <h3>2. Referral traffic from links</h3> <p>Qualified or unqualified, referral traffic is a little surprise that good digital PR and content promotion will earn you. Google’s goal has and always will be to provide users with the <a href="https://www.google.com/search/howsearchworks/mission/web-users/">most relevant and useful information</a>, and as such, we need to create relevant, useful content and earn relevant, useful links to that content.</p> <p>If you do that, you should naturally earn referral traffic, right? Not always. You need something to facilitate that connection between your brand, your content, and the places online where your audience is living and engaging (<em>ahem, it’s called digital PR!</em>).</p> <p>Short story: In my link building days of yore, nobody cared if people clicked our links. All we ever talked about was link quantity, anchor text, and PageRank. So when one of my guest posts (<em>the good kind, calm down!</em>) drove 100 referrals to my brand AND the users stuck around on the site for more than a minute, I was <em>thrilled</em>. In fact, I [naively] thought I’d cracked the code on outreach, officially turning it into a direct revenue driving channel. </p> <p>Well, not quite. Here’s what to expect and measure on the referral traffic front.</p> <h4>Referral traffic from contextual links </h4> <p>High-quality guest posts or “contributed posts” (<em>better?!</em>) can drive decent amounts of referral traffic to your site, but it’s sporadic and not a traffic source you can depend on. When it happens, great! Analyze the heck out of everything from the publication’s audience, to the article title, to link placement, to anchor text and destination URL, and the number and type of other outbound links within that article.</p> <p>Use that information to help you improve placement in future contributed posts. Again, where there’s significant, qualified referral traffic, DA doesn’t mean diddly squat! <em>There is authority in utility, and those are two of your site’s core link needs!</em></p> <h4>Referral traffic from content promotion</h4> <p>The majority of our referral traffic from digital PR efforts comes from content creation and promotion. This is when big publications pick up our content and users click to view the original source of the piece.</p> <p>This traffic is only as qualified as your content is relevant to your products and services. What makes content appeal to the masses and the journalists who have access to them isn’t always as closely tied to your products or services as you’d like, and that’s okay. Even if the traffic isn’t 100% qualified, referral traffic from coverage means that the links exist and they’re drawing people to your brand one way or another.</p> <h3>3. Brand awareness</h3> <p>Ok, I lied. This isn’t a KPI that you can always effectively measure. It is, however, something that <em>just happens</em> if you optimize your site well for the terms you need to rank for and then activate a digital PR plan that focuses on KPIs 1 and 2.</p> <p>While accurate attribution to digital PR efforts is an ongoing challenge, consistent content creation and promotion will likely result in increases in direct traffic over time. </p> <p>Another way to measure brand awareness, aside from monitoring rankings, is to track search volume for your brand, domain, or product over time. Keep in mind that this isn’t a reliable measurement for all sites, especially not young brands or those with keyword-based domains, like Reviews.org.</p> <h3>4. Tracking &amp; reporting</h3> <p>If you have more than three specialists doing outreach, I recommend a tool like <a href="http://www.buzzstream.com">Buzzstream</a> to keep track of your links and the relationships built to earn them. If you have less than three digital PR specialists, you can just use a master Google Sheet that is split up into tabs by brand. </p> <h4>Link tracking document:</h4> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/4942/link_tracking_doc.png" alt="link tracking doc" width="615"> </p> <h4>Individual monthly reporting:</h4> <p>Each specialist is responsible for reporting on their monthly links and referral traffic numbers by the first week of every month.  </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/4945/individual_monthly_reporting.png" alt="individual monthly reporting" width="615"> </p> <h4>Managerial monthly reporting:</h4> <p><strong>*Estimated market value:</strong> As a way to quantify the value of digital PR and the estimated market value of the links we build, we assign an estimated market value to our links. A quick Google search for ‘link building services’ will point you to many vendors building links for hire. Through some industry research of our own, we have looked at local and national link vendors’ pricing and assigned an average dollar amount to links in three categories: low, mid, and top tier.</p> <p>This helps marketing managers and senior leadership grasp the value of our links and the total amount it would cost if we were to hire a link vendor to do the work for us.  For example, in 2017 our digital PR team built a total of 6,717 links with an estimated market value of $5,547,000, which doesn’t even come near the cost to employ those 20 specialists!</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/4944/managerial_monthly_reporting.png" alt="managerial monthly reporting" width="615">  </p> <p>To conclude, the way you measure and celebrate the success of your outreach efforts—and the words you use to do so—will change the way your digital PR specialists work and the lens through which they view success.</p> <p>As the search landscape evolves, so too will your KPIs.  Ensure that your digital PR and SEO teams are linked at the hip, constantly re-evaluating what to measure and why so that both teams have a clear understanding of their actual impact on the bottom line.</p> <p><em><strong>Further reading:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69854-how-to-choose-a-b2b-pr-agency">How to choose a B2B PR agency</a></li> </ul> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/social-media-and-online-pr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/4984/Social_Media___Online_PR_training.png" alt="social media and online pr training" width="600" height="209"></a></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3523 2018-03-08T16:06:38+00:00 2018-03-08T16:06:38+00:00 Social Media & Online PR <p>This one-day course is the UK’s most popular introduction to online PR and social media marketing.</p> <p>You'll be able to plan and implement your ideal strategy using user-generated content, including monitoring positive and negative brand perception through tools such as Facebook and Twitter, and increasing brand engagement.</p> <p><strong>June Booking Offer:</strong> Book our June date and <strong>get 1 week’s free access</strong>  to the Econsultancy platform – the richest online content and insight available to modern marketers today. You’ll benefit from our market-fresh research reports and best practice guides, as well as the latest news and views and blogs. What’s more, you will be guided personally through the platform by one of our consultants to ensure you have access to the content most relevant to you as a modern marketer.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3522 2018-03-08T16:05:33+00:00 2018-03-08T16:05:33+00:00 Social Media & Online PR <p>This one-day course is the UK’s most popular introduction to online PR and social media marketing.</p> <p>You'll be able to plan and implement your ideal strategy using user-generated content, including monitoring positive and negative brand perception through tools such as Facebook and Twitter, and increasing brand engagement.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3503 2018-03-08T15:45:58+00:00 2018-03-08T15:45:58+00:00 Online Community Management <p>With so many free and low cost tools and channels it's never been easier to create online communities. But do you have a strategy and a thorough understanding of the dynamics of communities at the different stages of a community lifecycle?</p> <p>Are you comfortable with aligning your community to business and departmental objectives and do you have solid cross-departmental processes in place? Have you chosen appropriate tools and can your content and community engagement be described as best practice?</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3502 2018-03-08T15:45:21+00:00 2018-03-08T15:45:21+00:00 Online Community Management <p>With so many free and low cost tools and channels it's never been easier to create online communities. But do you have a strategy and a thorough understanding of the dynamics of communities at the different stages of a community lifecycle?</p> <p>Are you comfortable with aligning your community to business and departmental objectives and do you have solid cross-departmental processes in place? Have you chosen appropriate tools and can your content and community engagement be described as best practice?</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3479 2018-03-08T13:25:27+00:00 2018-03-08T13:25:27+00:00 Getting to grips with Paid Social <p>Need help with your social media advertising?</p> <p>We're a long way away from the heady days when social media was 'free' (well, if significant resource and time was ever free….)</p> <p>As social media platforms evolve and 'organic' visibility decreases in our social media feeds, brands and organisations must consider ways to increase their presence and optimise goal conversions through social advertising. Fail to put an effective strategy in place and you can end up simply throwing your money away.</p> <p>This course covers the essentials of creative, successful social media advertising campaigns. We'll explore best-practice campaigns and tools and techniques for writing copy, bidding strategy, and aligning your paid, owned and earned social activity.</p> <p><strong>June Booking Offer:</strong> Book our June date and <strong>get 1 week’s free access</strong>  to the Econsultancy platform – the richest online content and insight available to modern marketers today. You’ll benefit from our market-fresh research reports and best practice guides, as well as the latest news and views and blogs. What’s more, you will be guided personally through the platform by one of our consultants to ensure you have access to the content most relevant to you as a modern marketer.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3478 2018-03-08T13:24:30+00:00 2018-03-08T13:24:30+00:00 Getting to grips with Paid Social <p>Need help with your social media advertising?</p> <p>We're a long way away from the heady days when social media was 'free' (well, if significant resource and time was ever free….)</p> <p>As social media platforms evolve and 'organic' visibility decreases in our social media feeds, brands and organisations must consider ways to increase their presence and optimise goal conversions through social advertising. Fail to put an effective strategy in place and you can end up simply throwing your money away.</p> <p>This course covers the essentials of creative, successful social media advertising campaigns. We'll explore best-practice campaigns and tools and techniques for writing copy, bidding strategy, and aligning your paid, owned and earned social activity.</p> <p><strong>June Booking Offer:</strong> Book our June date and <strong>get 1 week’s free access</strong>  to the Econsultancy platform – the richest online content and insight available to modern marketers today. You’ll benefit from our market-fresh research reports and best practice guides, as well as the latest news and views and blogs. What’s more, you will be guided personally through the platform by one of our consultants to ensure you have access to the content most relevant to you as a modern marketer.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3477 2018-03-08T13:23:34+00:00 2018-03-08T13:23:34+00:00 Getting to grips with Paid Social <p>Need help with your social media advertising?</p> <p>We're a long way away from the heady days when social media was 'free' (well, if significant resource and time was ever free….)</p> <p>As social media platforms evolve and 'organic' visibility decreases in our social media feeds, brands and organisations must consider ways to increase their presence and optimise goal conversions through social advertising. Fail to put an effective strategy in place and you can end up simply throwing your money away.</p> <p>This course covers the essentials of creative, successful social media advertising campaigns. We'll explore best-practice campaigns and tools and techniques for writing copy, bidding strategy, and aligning your paid, owned and earned social activity.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69854 2018-03-08T12:30:00+00:00 2018-03-08T12:30:00+00:00 How to choose a B2B PR agency Matthew Davis <p>I spoke to some trusted industry figures and put together some tips for choosing a B2B PR agency.</p> <h3>Understand how you’ll reach your audience (before you engage PRs)</h3> <p>You should be thinking about the channels that are important to your customers well before you meet face-to-face with an agency. This will help you shortlist PRs with the right experience and it will vastly speed up your selection process.</p> <p>Chris Hides, Global Managing Director of M&amp;C Saatchi PR, says: “Think carefully about how your target audiences consume media – are they reading print titles, watching videos, or engaging with physical events? Once you’ve identified the best way to reach your audience then you can develop and refine your message to suit that channel.” </p> <p>Hides continues, “If you have a clear understanding of the channels you want to use, then finding an agency that can support these activities becomes a much simpler prospect.”</p> <h3>Choose local PR for local audiences</h3> <p>Many B2B marketers target very specific geographic markets. If that’s you, it pays to look for and invest in local PR expertise. You should ask for evidence of well-developed regional media contacts and an agency’s ability to pitch something nuanced and newsworthy at a local level.</p> <p>Pete Davies, managing director of Sugar PR in Manchester, recently worked on a local campaign with PayByPhone, the car parking app: "I'm a big believer in using regional PR agencies if you are a marketer for a brand with international reach. PayByPhone is a global business but it makes use, sensibly, of regional and local agencies who have a better understanding of local media agendas and also better contacts on the ground to make things happen in a country or region.“</p> <p>If you’re thinking about expanding to new territories in future, ask if your agency can link you up with a local partner to help deliver. </p> <p>Louisa Papachristou, Director of London-based Halo PR, says: “PR is about building and maintaining relationships and nothing beats being in situ, understanding a market and getting to know its media. While I’m happy to help get clients up and running in other territories with a PR strategy for example, I would always recommend they find a local partner for ongoing support.”</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/2799/map.jpg" alt="map" width="615"></p> <h3>Don’t say no to social</h3> <p>For some B2B organisations with a small or non-existent social presence, it’s easy to be cynical about agency promises to build influence and reach. But social can provide a direct route to customers and influencers, to share the content generated by your campaigns at low cost. </p> <p>Chris Hides, again: “Allowing your organisation to carefully control its message while targeting the audiences that will be most receptive to it, [social] offers a hugely effective avenue for business development support and pipeline generation.” </p> <p>Success comes down to two factors, Hides says, "firstly, choosing the social channels that will best engage your audience, and secondly, having a clear view on your organisation’s desired outcomes."</p> <p>Be focused and use some simple, low volume metrics to track success; conversations started and lead generation, for example.</p> <h3>Expect your agency to be a customer</h3> <p>Ready to invite a handful of the right agencies to pitch? You should expect all of them to appear in your sales pipeline before they turn up with their presentations. Every agency should be trying to understand your customer journey by getting involved themselves and even purchasing your product.</p> <p>Chris Hides makes it clear what you should expect from any agency worth their salt: “When it comes to ‘understanding’ your business – the first clear indicator is the involvement and effort an agency has gone to during the pitch. Have they spoken to customers? Gone through the user journey themselves?” </p> <p>“From a B2B perspective, PR often represents a support arm to the sales function. Therefore, any prospective agency must have a clear understanding of how your organisation makes money – what are the revenue streams, what are the sales channels and where are your present and future opportunities?”</p> <h3>Get the strategy right…</h3> <p>You’re calling in an agency because you need advice on comms strategy, but you should be ready to check that their advice aligns with the wider business need. What are the key outcomes you need to see, and how will you report on them as part of your wider marketing mix?</p> <p>For a handy marketing model to think about your strategy, see <a href="https://m3.econsultancy.com/">Ashley Friedlein’s Modern Marketing Model</a> (M3).</p> <p>You’re likely to be committing a sizeable chunk of your annual budget so it’s important you don’t get carried away with creative ideas during the pitch. Many forget to think about this beforehand and that can slow progress or, worse, catch you out if you don’t see the results you expect.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/2801/m3.jpg" alt="m3 model" width="400"></p> <h3>…then you can trust your gut</h3> <p>“Spotting good creativity is an entirely subjective exercise,” says Chris Hides. But if you’ve done your homework and you’re sat in a boardroom watching a pitch for your investment, it helps to have some framework to make a judgment.</p> <p>Hides adds: ”The best way to test a creative strategy is by its power to persuade you – is it able to tackle your organisation’s problem? Does it convince you that it’s the right approach to address a new opportunity in the market? Does it make you look at your organisation in a different light? And when it comes to creative tactics, it goes even deeper – you must trust your gut.”</p> <p>Don’t be afraid to ask in detail about comms tactics. Pete Davies weighs in: "Plenty is waffled by agencies about great work they've done for other clients. What you really want to know is what great work they will do for you. It's easy to do PR for famous brands with unlimited budgets. It's a lot trickier with challenger brands in the B2B marketplace in 2018 with a more limited budget.”</p> <p>“You want your PR agency to acknowledge that and explain how they are going to get a decent share of voice where larger, bigger budget competitors may be drowning them out.“</p> <h3>Look beyond the pitch team to your day-to-day</h3> <p>It's really important that there is good natural chemistry between you as the client and the people who will be actually handling your account. Not just the senior partners that turn up to the initial pitch.</p> <p>Ask who will be working on your campaigns (not just the account manager) and if possible meet them face-to-face. </p> <p>Pete Davies says the wider team’s understanding of your business is crucial, as well as the chemistry you share: "The most important question to consider is: "can I actually sit in a closed room with these people again, for two hours, and talk about my business?"</p> <h3>Ask for transparency</h3> <p>If you haven’t worked with a PR agency before, it can feel like a black box of processes and a potential black hole for your marketing budget.</p> <p>Don’t be afraid to ask for complete clarity on an agency’s rates and other costs, and what this gets you. Even if you’re clear on day rates, do you know how much work is needed to achieve the results you want? </p> <p>And if you’re not ready to commit to a long term working relationship, ask if you can try an agency on a short campaign first.</p> <p>Louise Papachristou says: “I generally work with all clients on a trial basis to start with. A short project gives both parties the opportunity to work together and see what the dynamic is. During this period, I’ll spend time getting to know a client’s business, its people and its culture. If the chemistry is right for both client and agency, and the relationship is working, this will often progress to a longer-term partnership.”</p> <p><em><strong>Related resources:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69791-three-pr-campaigns-that-missed-out-on-link-building-opportunities">Three PR campaigns that missed out on link building opportunities</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69492-how-to-engineer-your-definitive-digital-pr-campaign">How to engineer your definitive digital PR campaign</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/social-media-and-online-pr">Social Media &amp; Online PR Training</a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69856 2018-03-08T09:18:00+00:00 2018-03-08T09:18:00+00:00 Overcoming bias in the SEO & PR industries Lexi Mills <p>It took a lot of hard work to develop a skill set to design and execute on integrated PR SEO campaigns and data-driven PR reporting and strategies. Once I had worked this out I could show others how to do it. This is when I experienced the greatest conflict and biases.   </p> <p>The challenges I had to overcome may have looked gender based on the outside, due to the gender split between the industries. However, in my view, the conflict is more a consequence of misunderstanding and mistrust between each discipline.</p> <p>Historically, the differences between SEO and PR and the personalities they attracted were at odds with each other. When SEOs and PRs came into contact with each other, both groups had adverse experiences interacting with each other.  </p> <p>The discrimination on both sides was often unconscious and largely underpinned by alternative backgrounds, jargon, etiquettes, cultures and behaviours. They were both territorial, fearful that one industry would swallow up the other.</p> <p>The PR industry has grown <a href="https://www.holmesreport.com/long-reads/article/global-pr-industry-now-worth-%2415bn-as-growth-rebounds-to-7-in-2016">to $15bn</a>. Spending on digital communications has grown as well – in-house communications leaders' digital budgets are rising. Some figures have the global SEO industry worth <a href="https://searchengineland.com/seo-industry-worth-65-billion-will-ever-stop-growing-248559">as much as $65bn</a>. These are large sums to win—or lose. </p> <p>The relationship building between these two industries is on-going. Many agencies in both the PR and SEO fields have made leaps and bounds in hiring and developing specialists from both sectors and combining these two skillsets. Having helped agencies in both sectors and in-house teams do this, I have found a few common approaches that have been effective in achieving smooth and impactful integrations and reducing bias.</p> <h3>Humour over anger with unconscious bias</h3> <p>Now of course, there are some circumstances where you need to address an issue with seriousness. But, let’s only do that when absolutely necessary.</p> <p>The language and manner we use to challenge bias is important. Our brains do not function well when we are in heightened states of emotion. Getting angry is simply less likely to bring about reasonable discussions with others.  </p> <p>Humour can be far more productive, the moment the PR and SEO teams start laughing together I know we are on track to getting some great results, because I have noticed a correlation between the ability to do this and the ability to have tough conversations. </p> <p>It is important to recognise someone’s intent, separate that from their actions, and react accordingly. We need to find ways to communicate against unconscious biases through channels that can be heard, humour is one of the best I discovered. </p> <p>Let me explain.</p> <p>Early in my career, I was often mistaken for the office assistant when clients met me for the first time. They would ask me to get the tea, for example. Now I could have reacted with anger, but I didn’t, much to the amusement of my team, I would smile, get the tea and say, “I hope you like it. My speciality is integrated comms; but, I did my best.”  </p> <p>I enjoyed this game for many years, largely because these were not people operating a conscious gender bias. I looked at it this way: most SEO specialists at the time were male. Their expectation for me to be male was statistically correct, not necessarily conscious bias. Making them feel terrible was not the objective; working with them and helping to adjust their perceptions was.  </p> <p>Mary Poppins has given me some great life philosophies, and in this instance I saw making the tea as the spoonful of sugar that helped the medicine go down.</p> <p>I also decided early on to address the rooms I stand in. Instead of trying to change the minds of the people who think I don’t belong in the same room as them, I sometimes chose to work hard and make another room more successful and more fun. With client work this meant picking the clients most ready for integration initially and then moving onto the ones who were more hesitant.</p> <h3>Allies and advocates</h3> <p>I have to acknowledge that much of my career success was due to the support from people in the industry. Many of these were silent champions giving me feedback, putting me forward for conference speaking slots and shielding me against some of the gender and sector biases. </p> <p>Getting publishers to talk openly about their linking policies, challenges and objectives has been key to me developing campaigns that were successful for them and clients. It helped me learn how to build pages that help journalists with their stories and thus build natural links.</p> <p>Most of the people who helped me were male, as that was the dominant gender of the internet marketing industry. There were also women, some of which had had a much harder time than I did, being part of the industry way before I joined.</p> <p>Some of the women have undoubtedly stood in my shoes (or me in theirs), which helped them recognise when support was needed. That may have made it easier for them to support me, in a way, than it was for some of the men. The men had to rely on keen observation rather than experience to determine how and when to offer advice or help.</p> <p>But I don’t really distinguish whether these people were male or female. I notice more that they have congruent values including proactivity and the courage to stand up for someone both publically and privately. Something we should all foster irrespective of industry sector or gender.</p> <h3>Gratitude</h3> <p>We live in a world that puts immense emphasis on the ‘hero’, but it seems to me that many of the people working to change the fabric of society largely do so silently. It is therefore no wonder that it is only with hindsight you notice how much insight, shielding or advocacy someone has given you. It is never too late to say thank you.</p> <p>You don’t need to send expensive gift baskets; but, you do need to be genuine in your gratitude. With media I have gone out of my way to give journalists exclusives, access to interviews or help them on stories that were sometimes unrelated to my work objectives. Thanking someone is not just an expression of appreciation. It also communicates the value of their efforts. This undoubtedly fuels them to carry out similar actions in the future, and this is part of the two-way street of creating change. </p> <h3>Take stock of achievements and log the funny data points</h3> <p>I sometimes see people get more upset about a lack of gluten-free muffins at tech events than about accessibility and equality. This is in fact a good thing. These more minor complaints mean a lot of the bigger changes have begun. How fantastic it is for me to see this as a data point for success. So, bring on dietary complaints as a metric of progress!  Of course, taking stock of how far we have come does not mean we can slack off, and it should not stop us helping others who are walking a hard path.</p> <p>Finally, revolutions don’t go off without a hitch we need to be reasonable in our expectations of what the path ahead looks like.  It does exist and will take time to change. Despite the fact that a vast amount of our communications are governed by mechanical systems, tools, processes and technology, we are human.  We cannot just recode ourselves or our societies. It takes time, humour gentleness and, most of all, perseverance and bravery.</p>