The role of the public relations (PR) professional is to help an organization (product, brand, cause, person) in their relations with the public. PR agencies may often specialize according to which "public" the organization requires to relate to; be it the investor community (investor relations), other businesses, internal stakeholders, the consumer, government -- the list is endless.
Traditionally the main route to the widest (relevant) audience is through media; the press release being just one method of relating the organization's message to the writers and broadcasters at those media. Today, the routes to public are much broader and include social media, non-traditional media (such as blogs), mobile phones, the organization's own website, newsletters -- again, the list is endless.
As an SEO you're also tasked with delivering content and message to the organization's public, and growing that relevant audience where search is the intermediary for discovery. Your objectives and success metrics may differ to those of the PR professional; however there is often (and more increasingly) a great deal of overlap in method.
Knowing more about your client's PR agency, how they work, and what they do will help both parties to succeed with faster and better results.
Here are nine ways to work together with your client's PR agency to help meet mutual objectives.
1. Offer SEO Training
Just as many non-PRs may believe that all PR professionals do is write and distribute press releases, many non-SEOs perceive that all we do is spam the web with utterly meaningless keyword-stuffed content.
Devise an introductory-level training course for the agency PR account executives and managers that will give enough of an overview into the three main SEO areas (technical, on-page, and off-site marketing, including content distribution and link building).
If the PR agency is willing to reciprocate and offer you introductory level PR training, take advantage. Each party will undoubtedly gain a much greater understanding and appreciation for the work of the other, ultimately picking up opportunities for collaboration along the way.
2. Learn from Each Other
Allow each company to present to the other on the type of day-to-day work involved in SEO/PR, using case study illustrations.
One of the best ways to learn is through practical example and experience. Share some of your client project experiences together to help cement the existing theoretical knowledge, putting this into a real-world business context.
3. Determine Client Objectives
Get the PR agency to brief you on their specific client objectives and schedule of activities. Once you have established a working knowledge of the activities and capabilities of your clients PR agency, have them brief you on a monthly or quarterly basis as to their objectives for your mutual client, and the schedule of activities they will be planning as a route to these objectives.
You should find that on occasion many activities can serve a dual purpose. If there's a planned announcement, can they provide you with a press release for distribution? Can you contribute to the content to provide input as to keywords and desired links?
4. Establish Sign-Off Rules
If you send out a press release every time your client opens a new box of staples, fair enough, there may be additional content and mediocre links to be had. But what does that say about your client brand? Perhaps they aren't too concerned and happy to let both SEO and PR agency have sign-off on such content production.
On the other hand if brand positioning is of concern then you may need to establish a protocol or sign-off procedure with the PR agency. Perhaps all press releases will need to be written by them, or all media relationships owned by them; in which case some very clear rules and procedures will need to be in place, combined with the aforementioned training, so that you can still ensure SEO is considered and included in "PR-owned" activities.
5. Collaborate on Compiling a List of Bloggers
The PR professional may be the relationship expert, but you are the search expert. Identifying quality bloggers, with audience and influence can be fairly difficult for either party at times.
Additionally, your definition of a quality blog will probably differ slightly from the PR pro definition.
See if you can work collaboratively to compile a list of relevant bloggers and blogs in your client sector, as you will no doubt be able to identify a greater number of what will be message targets for PR, and link targets for you. If you want to expand your knowledge of query prospecting for link targets to help identify bloggers, then read some Garrett French.
6. Event Schedules and Invitations
As mentioned, PR has a lot to do with leveraging relationships to deliver an organization's message. What better way to do so than through face-to-face events?
You may find the PR agency has a schedule of events, such as trade shows, product launches, and parties, seminars, networking meet-ups, breakfast briefings, photo-shoots and more. If you're aware of the events schedule then you can contribute by suggesting influential bloggers to invite (with your identified contacts for link targets), content to document for on-site activity, and social media.
7. Heads up on Product Launches
Your client has a new product launch that is tightly under wraps. A small list of the most influential and relevant media will be given the opportunity to review this highly secret new product. A wonderful party is organized, the new product is proudly presented, and there's lots of news coverage the next day.
One problem: nobody thought to inform the SEO agency, so that the product page could be optimized and live in time to rank first!
Perhaps your client has a beauty product that the PR agency has managed to get into the goodie bags at a prestigious awards. Knowing about this at the outset means you can get some pre-event content up and start to establish a place on related terms.
There are so many opportunities to be had before and after a product launch. With product placement, having that awareness in advance will open up a host of SEO opportunities.
8. Share Your List of (Publisher Sites) Link Targets With the Agency
Don't: give a PR professional a list of random link targets and ask them to call through the list asking for a link. That would be the quickest way for a PR pro to lose professional credibility and a journalist relationship.
Do: provide a list of identified media sites (traditional and blogs) and explain to them that getting coverage (with link) in these media would help the SEO objective enormously. A PR pro can then define and help devise newsworthy, engaging and relevant content for those targets as and when it can be scheduled. It's the long game.
9. Identify Suitable Internal Advocates to Own the Relationship Between Your Agencies.
It's not going to be easy. It will be a learning process for both SEO and PR agency, and as such will require internal "champions" to help disseminate information from either party internally, and who will own the collaboration between both of you.
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