As we stop to catch our breath and get ready to look back at 2018 and the developments in our industry, one debate that shows little sign of slowing is the ongoing challenge between PR and SEO and how the two disciplines should work together.

The reality is, is that there is no easy answer. However, it’s vital that we consider how to make the most of the synergies and benefits in coordinating PR and SEO as part of integrated marketing campaigns. Likewise, I think there is a need to provide a better understanding to our clients on what is achievable in helping brands be more visible and salient online, and how PR can truly support and deliver against this objective.

At a PR Moment conference in the autumn, a debate on this subject found some common ground but there are some key challenges that PR agencies must not be afraid to tackle head on and be prepared to have bold conversations about with their clients.

As part of the discussions, one of the clear advantages that PRs have over their SEO counterparts is that SEO professionals naturally think about how to please search engines, while PR and Marketing practitioners think about creating content that is interesting and exciting to audiences through multiple channels, including the likes of Google. Top tips articles, for example, is short, punchy content that can be used as a way to promote and drive traffic to your website, relevant for both prospective and existing clients. Relevant and updated content is still king, so the advantage for PRs who know how to tell a good story means that SEO will work better.

It’s essential that SEO and PR experts work closely and not in a combative manner. SEO is a way of providing an online legacy to every campaign – continually building upon and increasing campaign ROI at the beginning and over time. And to thrive, working with a content calendar where PR and SEO comes together can be invaluable.

Alongside this, there was one clear takeaway when trying to bring PR and SEO together to benefit working with the media. For example, clients may ask for back links in their content, but we have to remember that there is a clear differentiation between earned and paid media and we cannot treat both the same.

However, there are some ways to encourage journalists and media editors to include links in coverage, but before these are outlined it’s important to point out what is unacceptable. Do not waste your time asking a journalist if they will include a link without good a reason. It’s up there with calling a journalist to ask if they have ‘received your press release’.

So, how do you persuade a journalist to provide a link? Follow these simple tips and it will increase your chances greatly:

  • Provide links to a worthy report – for example, more information than a journalist can include in an article
  • Create a useful tool for clients or customers and tell your media contact about it – e.g. a budget calculator – something that people will want to use experiment with, etc.
  • Select terminology carefully – use words like source/credit to data to ensure your content has the gravitas it deserves.

There’s no doubt the debate about how to get the most from PR and SEO investment will continue for some time yet. However, the key thing to remember is that, done properly, integrated marketing is more important than ever. Together PR and SEO are more than the sum of their parts.


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