Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The inevitable Integration of Search and PR

Traditional PR is not sacred in the post Internet world. Anyone can get to be on the front page of the news on the Internet today. And smart SEO companies are all over it.

It's a natural for us, because the news has become a search medium. It's mainly text based so we can optimize it for keywords.

Today, for a small fee and completely online, we can insert press releases into Google and Yahoo News and get them syndicated on industry and niche sites all over the world. The reach is staggering.

What's different now is that it doesn't even matter if your release is picked up by any traditional media. There is no longer any need for the intermediation of a journalist to get attention.

Yahoo News is currently the number 1 online news source. It's a news media of it's own with over 1Million unique visitors a day. And our press releases are listed right alongside releases from AP and Reuters.

You submit your news, and there it is, coming up at the top of the news for all of your keywords. Here's the reach of online news:

Yahoo News is the number one online news source

Journalists are only a tiny fraction of the people reading this news. The press release isn't for the journalist any more - it's direct to public.

The secret to success is to optimize our press releases for our money keywords, the words that get searched the most by our potential customers. We can be at the top of the news for whatever we want, but we have to make it the right words.

A simple press release can get thousands or tens of thousands of views in a few days after it's release.

But it's not just the people reading your release that makes this a great medium. If we pay a little extra to have embedded links with our own anchor text, these links are distributed within the release wherever it's shown. Readers of our release can click through and visit our sites. Maybe become a lead, or buy something.

But those aren't even the reasons why SEO companies are doing PR. The two main reasons why every smart SEO company is doing it are:
  1. Inbound links. The syndication of your release on niche sites propagates links to your site all over the Internet. The press release itself contains links that can be deep links into your site on whatever words you choose. And bloggers (non-traditional news media) may comment on your release and link to it or your site. All of which enhances the value of your site to the search engines and puts positive upward pressure on your search rankings.
  2. Universal search. In May 2007, Google unveiled universal search. What this means is that the search engine results pages (SERPS) now frequently contain blended results from different sources. Instead of simply listing the top 10 sites as before, depending on the search it may contain only 4 sites, plus 2 images, 2 news items, a video, and local listing. This has huge implications for search engine marketers: There's less page one space for regular site listings, which makes it more competitive, but there's new opportunities to grab more page one real estate if your a broader thinker. It's natural, and in fact required, for SEO's to broaden out into optimization and distribution of other media such as videos, images and of course, news.
There's a tremendous opportunity in PR that may be missed by many PR agencies:

Traditional PR agencies can get up to speed with publishing through online news channels, but they look at it in a different way. Under traditional PR management the value of links, anchor text and effective keyword choice and optimization will be underused or missed entirely.

And it's not just the online news that is shaking up traditional PR. The tremendous growth of social media is a new kind of news. The long tail of news split into a gazillion niches. Traditional media targeting campaigns are losing their punch as many readers opt for popular blogs, forums and social media sites to get exactly what they're interested in, bypassing traditional media altogether.

PR companies need to understand search. When you get picked up by online media, many times you won't get a link to your site. And in print or broadcast? No link either. The news generated by media hits in turn generates search traffic - and our clients had better show up for their company names and the terms used in the story. Whether it's in the organic listings, sponsored listings, or better, both.

SEO companies are better positioned to take advantage of social media and online news, but most have a lot of growing up to do.

Struggling SEO companies will see it only from the other side, looking only for the value of links and immediate traffic. Generally, SEO companies don't yet have the skills in traditional PR, and will miss the opportunities to leverage the tremendous power of the mainstream media.

There must emerge a new breed of integrated Internet marketing agencies that will have excellent proficiency in both PR, Social Media, and SEM (Search engine marketing):

These teams must interact both strategically and tactically:

The PR team will still create their typical media targeting lists, media schedules, pitch ideas, sponsorship ideas, key messages and backup materials.

And working alongside them, the SEO team will create highly targeted keyword lists, and help come up with press release ideas that can include the right keywords, and create a schedule to publish a news releases into the online news every 30 days (to maintain constant exposure).

The Social Media experts will weigh in with ideas on videos, images and multimedia ideas to be included, and add to the media target list names of high profile bloggers and plans to get in or leverage highly traffic sites such as DIGG, Reddit, BoingBoing, or other sites that reach your demographic.

The Web Analytics guys will be consulted in the very beginning to create and track meaningful KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure the real success of the campaign.

Tactically, PR will draft all of the releases, and SEO will optimize them for keywords, and place keyword rich anchor text that strategically deep link into our sites. The SEO team will submit them for online distribution.

Some releases will be purely for immediate traffic and links. Others will coincide with traditional media pitches by the PR team. Other articles and new content will be tagged or otherwise submitted to dozens of social media sites.

Everything will be tracked, trended and analyzed for traffic, links, conversions, media hits and of course, sales. This integrated approach is a must to maximize reach in the new world of almost infinity fragmented online media that is eating away at traditional media more every day.


If you want to read more on this, here's two older posts of mini-case studies of online press releases:

1 comment:

Keith Holloway said...

Inc.com has created a slideshow on using PR, and included online press release distribution through PRWeb as one of the recommendations: View it here