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Your PR Firm’s SEO and Social Media Readiness


Lee Odden Posted by Lee Odden

6 Questions to Assess Your PR Vendor’s SEO/Social Media Readiness

Recently Jason Falls made an insightful comment on his blog about PR professionals being “social media ready”. In that post, he cited the need for specific social media marketing skills to be assessed for companies evaluating the effectiveness of their PR efforts.

The state of the PR industry is in flux with increasing emphasis on the digital and social side of communications. In the context of digital PR, social media savvy is the jelly to SEO (search engine optimization) peanut butter. As PR efforts continue to emphasize content publishing, digital and social communications, the opportunity to keyword optimize content for search is low hanging fruit for those that are in the know.

Forward thinking companies would do well to assess the SEO and social media readiness of their marketing and PR resources. Is the current digital PR effort leveraging improved visibility through search engines? Do current PR and Marketing staff or vendors possess the digital PR tools they need to offer competitive consulting in a “PR 2.0” world?

Consider the following questions to assess the SEO and social media readiness of your digital PR assets:

1. Is social media participation conducted without attention to SEO?

According to the iPressroom Digital Readiness Report, social media adoption outranks organic SEO. Yet more than 82% of Internet users surveyed in “When Did We Start Trusting Strangers” (published by Tom Smith, one of the researchers of the Digital Readiness Report) stated search engines are the tools most frequently used to source information about products, brands and services. That disconnect reinforces the need for search engine optimization as a key digital marketing and PR tactic.

2. Do your social media and SEO efforts work together?

Some companies are indeed implementing social media and SEO programs, albeit separately. SEO and social media have a clear intersection, and if both are in place, they can work together to compound results.

The outcome of many social media interactions and sharing is content. One of the most important concepts to grasp when exploring possibilities with search for PR is that, “If content can be searched on, it can be optimized for better performance.” Therefore, content creation should factor in search optimization whenever relevant.

Social media marketing efforts that factor in keyword optimization of content can directly influence the discovery of communities and social content via search engines. Additionally, social content can boost links to your website, improving search traffic and Pull PR results. In other words, if you’re going to create it, why not optimize it? Implementing social media and SEO as silos misses a significant opportunity.

3. Is a search and social media friendly website part of the digital PR strategy?

The 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer indicates that companies’ own websites are viewed as more credible sources of information than blogs, social networks or advertising. The positive effects of frequently updated, quality content on search rankings present a strong case for investing in a search and social media friendly content strategy. Whether PR professionals have influence over content creation on an entire web site or limited to an online newsroom, keyword optimization of news content creates entry points to stories through search for journalists, analysts and bloggers researching online.

4. Where does a blog fit within the social media content strategy?

The highest-ranked digital skill for large organizations, according to the iPressroom Digital Readiness Report, is blogging. Blog savvy PR efforts should include the ability to develop a blog content plan that not only publishes news that the company wants to distribute, but information of specific value to target audiences. Such a blog content plan might include a scheduled mix of posts on subjects relevant to an industry niche in formats that are journalist and/or blogger friendly.

Now that every company that is promoting themselves online is in effect, a media company, it’s important to begin to think like one by leveraging an editorial plan and to package information that is useful to customers as well as journalists and other bloggers. Search optimized and social media friendly blog content can extend the reach of company news to search engines as well as social media news and bookmarking sites.

5. Are target audiences profiled and what is the best way to reach them?

Analyzing survey results is a great start to determine best practices, tools and tactics for a digital PR strategy. But it’s just that—a start. Profiling the target audience should be an early and integral part of the process.

Who is the target audience? What are their preferences for types of social content? Which social media sites do they visit, and how often? What type of search do they use for story research? Answers to these questions and more will make a digital PR effort that leverages both search optimization and social media participation more efficient. A good model for understanding social behaviors is the Forrester Technographics report. If consumer social behaviors can be profiled, why not journalists and bloggers?

6. What is your PR firm’s true core competency: traditional or digital PR including social media and SEO?

The demand for traditional PR skills by many accounts is slipping. 18% of respondents in the Digital Readiness Reports said they have no interest whatsoever in traditional PR. For the vast majority of respondents, knowledge of social networks (80%), blogging, podcasting and RSS (87%), and micro-blogging (72%) is either important or very important when it comes to PR and marking hiring.

The big question for companies that want to stay ahead of the digital PR game is, “How do your PR resources (in-house or agency) measure up?

Please also read PR Does Not Stand for Press Release

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About the Author: Lee Odden is CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a digital marketing and public relations firm in Minnesota that specializes in search, social and online PR consulting and training for companies worldwide. Odden has been cited for his internet marketing expertise over the past 10 years by the Economist, Forbes and U.S. News and contributed a chapter to the book, "Online Marketing Heroes" published by Wiley. For the past 5 years he has also been the editor of TopRank's Online Marketing Blog, a Technorati 100 favorite blog and one of the top marketing blogs according to Advertising Age.

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