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PR v SEO: it’s a question of source credibility

24 May

What’s the difference between a PR hustler chasing media mentions and a digital executive chasing links? Conceptually, none at all. Hence the rather useful phrase SEO PR that’s increasingly being used.

In practice, though, there is a difference between an SEO pitch and a PR pitch. Google knows this and is tightening the screws on SEO tactics through its latest update (Penguin 2.0).

SEO and PR both seek the same outcome, but use different approaches (as do PR and advertising).

The SEO executive typically sends a message to a site owner (often an amateur blogger) offering to write a ‘guest post’. They never say who they are of who they represent, though they send links to other articles they’ve written on the topic of their pitch. The purpose of the (spurious) post is solely to link back to whichever site needs boosting. It’s like the fraudster keen to be photographed with famous people so they can assume some of their credibility.

The PR executive also approaches a media site (professional or amateur) with some form of content: a news release, a comment,  a potential feature or an interview opportunity. The PR approach does not hide the purpose of the approach (promoting the client) leaving the recipient to judge the content on its merits.

When I receive pitches, I make a snap judgement on whether it’s an SEO pitch or a PR pitch. The initial difference is the credibility of the source. Further down the line, the PR practitioner should also value relationships whereas the SEO industry is ravenous for links and hits and gives little or no thought to the value of longer-term relationships.

Some will think this a classic example of ‘the pot calling the kettle black’. Yet I find it encouraging that PR people are no longer the most egregious examples of internet spam. Google’s pursuit of the genuine over the fake is now playing into the hands of PR people who have a valuable role in exchanging valued content and links and developing relationships.

It’s a while since I’ve read an SEO expert proclaiming that ‘PR is dead’. Memes can die too.

In two words: what is public relations?

28 Dec

Meaning pr More than half of the readers to this blog come here as a result of a search. 

Someone arrived having typed meaning pr into Google. An archived post at PR Studies came second to Wikipedia for this cryptic search string.

Who were they and what were they thinking? I can imagine it was a student attempting some last-minute 'research' before an essay deadline.

Well, let me disappoint you. Google isn't yet a complete library containing all the wisdom of the world. I suggest you view a search as the start of your research, not the end.

In that spirit, here are some helpful pointers. I can't write your essays because that wouldn't be right, and I don't know what your essay question is. But I can provide some straightforward two-word explanations of public relations and some sources for further reading (yes, that conventional activity that still mostly involves printed books). What follows may help explain [the] meaning [of] PR (or rather several competing meanings).

Continue reading

Search me!

27 Apr

Paul Taylor of the Financial Times has been trying out some new search tools designed to find people or check their digital footprint. He seems to have found more use for Spock than I can (it’s still in beta).

I still find Google most useful because I have the toolbar on each PC I use, and because Google favours blog entries over static web content. One example should demonstrate this: take Katya Trubilova, a final year student who has blogged as part of her dissertation work. It helps that she doesn’t have a common anglo-saxon name, but she owns the Google search result on her name and we can learn quite a lot about the life of an Estonian studying in Yorkshire. She’s also on LinkedIn (though her profile is a year out of date).

Facebook has become such an unremarkable aspect of our everyday lives (sorry about us and them, but most people I come across exist on Facebook) that the efficiency of its search often goes unnoticed. It works because it does more than return names from a database; it filters these names through several layers. First, those I’m already friends with. Second, those in my existing networks (eg by location). Third, friends of friends and so on. It’s so efficient that it rarely lets me down – and then probably only because the Gillian I’m looking for calls herself Gill. What’s in a name? A whole lot of personal brand and reputation assets.