Does PR sound to you like an old-fashioned way to do marketing? Maybe it conjures up those press releases marketers would try to convince the newspaper to print as if it were actually news. Or maybe you only see PR as something to be activated when your reputation needs quick repair.
But when you think about it public relations (PR) is the parent of SEO. PR is the practice of generating awareness through people and word of mouth. SEO is generating awareness through search engines and keywords. Using both together is more powerful than using just one or the other.
What’s holding you back from using these tools in utter harmony?
Abolish the Silo Effect
For some companies putting these two practices together may be problematic because each is performed by a completely different team, all huddled behind their silo walls with no idea what the other is doing. There is no coordination between SEO and PR to create and disseminate a message with a single voice. Ideas aren’t even being thrown over the silo wall; it’s too high.
Both teams must realize they bring different yet necessary pieces of the marketing puzzle to the table.
The SEO team is the research arm of a great marketing group. They have the best toys, er, tools to determine words and phrases people are using to find what you do. They identify trends, survey for niche topics, and generally come up with the right terms needed to fish for new customers.
The PR team is rather like the development arm. They take those terms and put them into the exact type of content that their media contacts will love. These are contacts they have been cultivating forever and with whom they are on friendly ground.
So get rid of the silos already. Get both teams talking about what they do best and how they can help the other become exceptional marketers.
Now that SEO and PR are marching to the same drummer, here are some steps for them to take into a successful future.
Remember: It’s the Customer First, Last and Always
The customer is why the business exists. The customer buys the product, knows the product, and can authoritatively recommend the product better than anyone else and with a higher level of trust.
This means trying to influence influencers who are not your customers is a waste of time. Sure an influencer can get the word out about your company but he won’t have the same level of gravitas as a customer AND he isn’t buying your stuff.
It also means you need to know exactly who your customers are. The scattershot approach is the type of marketing where you don’t know which half of your money is being wasted. You should know your customers front and back; what motivates them to buy, why they are looking and why others look but don’t buy.
Build the Persona, They Will Come
Start by building a persona, a super-detailed profile of your ideal customer. Go beyond simple demographics. Answer these questions:
- What problem is the ideal customer having?
- What tips off their buying behavior?
- Who else is involved in the purchase?
- Where does this ideal customer get information?
Dig deep into your buyer’s psyche so you can develop the exact right content to get that particular person’s attention and convince him or her that you have the perfect solution. This is an area where PR should have the best information.
You will need to develop more than one persona because you probably have more than one type of ideal customer and you want to have the right content for each.
Here’s a trick to help your content developer: give each persona a name: Mike Manager or Mary Marketing. This humanizes it and makes it easier to picture the persona as someone to write to. It keeps the content more specific.
Scratch a Niche
Just as you can have more than one ideal customer you should be prepared to identify and market to one or more marketplace niches. Those niches represent your best customers, the ones from whom most of your revenue comes. By marketing directly to your niche you will harvest a much bigger bounty than trying to appear to the mass market.
Find niches through research, something the SEO team is an expert at. But PR should certainly weigh in with feedback from the field.
Run the Numbers
The only way to prove to upper management that what you are doing is worthwhile is to show them hard numbers. Numbers will convince where emotional appeals will not. And you need to track the right numbers, which change as your business grows and matures.
Early on you may only be able to present fuzzy numbers: Facebook likes, Twitter followers, that sort of thing. But as time goes by you will be able to collect data on something much more convincing: lead conversions, sales-accepted leads and sales.
One thing to watch as you gather numbers. You data can get dirty. If your PR and SEO teams are not marching in lockstep or, worse, are still in their silos, duplication of effort will be rampant. Both teams may track the same things and/or concurrently track metrics that aren’t actionable. Agree on what information to collect and clean your data before running your metrics.
SEO and PR are two parts of a whole. There is no reason they should be separated and every reason to get them together. Each group has a set of skills and expertise that will create greater value for the other. Put these two powerhouses together to create a dynamic duo of marketing. Sales won’t be able to keep up.
* Image courtesy of Lacey Griner and Know Your Meme