Public Relations

Digital PR and SEO Series: Part 1

digital PR

What exactly, does Web 2.0, social media and even SEO have to do with public relations? Everything!

You’d be hard pressed to find any modern public relations agency practice that isn’t researching or already implementing a digital PR strategy including search engine optimization, blogging/blogger relations and social media. The winds of change are here and many Public Relations practitioners are scrambling to adjust to the opportunities presented by shifts in both consumer and journalist behavior online.

Look no further than popular Public and Media Relations conferences like PRSA International or some of the Bulldog Reporter events to see exactly how the PR industry is making a concerted effort to educate itself on how to adjust to new opportunities with Web 2.0., SEO and social media.

Optimizing News Content for Search Engines


The buzz about SEO in the public relations industry has grown tremendously over the past 2-3 years. Press releases in particular, have been the easy target for promotion as candidates for optimization. With the growing use of Google and Yahoo News, optimizing press releases have been an easy way to gain prominent visibility in the short term and in some cases, long term visibility in standard search engines.

As both a SEO and a PR practitioner for companies ranging from startups for Fortune 20 corporations, our Online Marketing Agency is tasked with educating audiences in both industries. For example, at public relations conferences, I’m the SEO guy talking about optimized PR. At search marketing conferences, I’m the PR guy talking about using PR for SEO. Our Account Managers like Jolina Pettice and Mike Yanke do the same thing with clients.

Conversational Thoughts on SEO as a PR Tool

SEO and PR

After 10 plus years in the SEM business, it’s a bit of an understatement to say that the nature of SEO is constantly changing. Those changes involve both the search engines refining the way they sort and display search results as well as consumer search behaviors. A simple example would be a year ago, searching Google would return mostly web pages in the search results. That same search today might include videos, news items, images or blog posts – now commonly known as Universal search.

In addition to web pages, each of these types of information comes from a different database. This presents opportunities for companies to gain search visibility not only with high ranking web pages, but with other digital media as well. Changes with search and ranking criteria are constantly being fine tuned and improved by the search engines.

Pull PR – Combining SEO and Public Relations


Many companies narrowly define PR activities online solely as blogger relations when in reality, online public relations is so much more. To me, internet based public and media relations encompasses gaining editorial exposure on the web with sites like blogs of course, but it also leverages web based technologies, networks and platforms for developing and maintaining more efficient communication with the media. And by “media” I mean traditional media with an online presence as well as other influencers – be they bloggers, power social news users or social networkers.

Communication efforts might happen online, but the media exposure outcomes may be in print or the web. The question arises, if the connections are made and maintained online using online PR and social media tools, but the exposure is offline, is it still online PR? I say yes.

PR and Social Media: PRSA Teleseminar

Tomorrow the PRSA is conducting a teleseminar “PR and Social Media – What every practitioner needs to know“.

Take a first-hand look at the phenomena that are redefining the practice of public relations.  Hear from three digital PR pioneers about the array of new tools, strategies and channels available to today’s practitioner from Facebook and Second Life to blogger relations, digital video and search engine reputation management.

As has been the case with a number of public relations industry events, I am tasked with bringing a search marketing perspective to a PR and social media focused panel. A similar session was held at the PRSA International Conference last year, “Social Media for PR Practitioners“, so the seminar tomorrow will be a nice update.

SEO Tips for Public Relations

During the PRSA International Conference I had the opportunity to talk with Eric Schwartzman about the interplay of search engine optimization and online public relations. There’s plenty of sage advice for PR professionals interested in leveraging SEO tactics for public and media relations in the interview (Eric interviews Lee), so if you have 25 minutes be sure to click the link above and listen. Otherwise, here is a paraphrased accounting of our talk:

How can SEO can help an organization raise awareness?

People are looking for information, they use a variety of types of search such as Google, Yahoo, Live and Ask as the predominant channels. There’s also news search , blog search and search within social media sites. Any time something can be searched on, that’s an optimization opportunity. Increasing awareness comes from making it easier for people to find you when they’re looking for information.

New Media and Blogging for Influence with Journalists

In a recent study by Omnicom Group’s Brodeur and Marketwire about how journalists use blogs, it was found that blogs are are a regular source for journalists for improving the speed of reporting news as well as guiding tone, but not for improving quality:

  • Over three quarters of reporters see blogs as helpful in giving them story ideas, story angles and insight into the tone of an issue
  • Nearly 70 percent of all reporters check a blog list on a regular basis
  • One in four reporters (27.7%) have their own blogs
  • About one in five (16.3%) have their own social networking page
  • Almost half of reporters (47.5%) say they are “lurkers”
  • Over half said that blogs were having a significant impact on the “tone” (61.8%) and “editorial direction” (51.1%) of news reporting

Pubcon Session: Press and Public Relations Campaigns

SEO PR Tactics Measurement

The last session of the day for me was “Press and Public Relations Campaigns” with Robin Liss of and Joe Beaulaurier from PRWeb. Moderation duties were scheduled to be handled by Brett Tabke but were switched at the last minute to Melanie Mitchell, VP of SEO/SEM at AOL. Sorry Brett, but I don’t think anyone had a problem with the switch. :)

Robin presented a case study for a promotion on the iPhone her site did using multiple channels including Digg and a YouTube video that went viral. Joe presented the multiple media format press release options offered by PRWeb.

Public Relations Benefits from SEO

On the heels of the PRSA conference last week, the topic of how search plays a part in online PR effectiveness has continued to enter into the increasing numbers of discussions we’ve been having with companies working on figuring out where to best leverage their 2008 marketing/PR dollars. It’s that time of year again. :)

Now more than ever, PR and media relations efforts can benefit from attention to how search engine visibility influences consumer perceptions and the way both consumers and the media find information online. With an increasing variety of search types to choose from including standard search like Google, Yahoo, Live and Ask as well as platform or content type specific search such as news, blog, image, video and options within social media web sites, brings new opportunities to optimize content.

PRSA Conference: Social Media for PR Practitioners


I just returned from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International conference being held in Philadelphia where I participated on a panel, “Social Media, What Every PR Practitioner Needs to Know” with Rob Key of Converseon, Nicco Mele of echoditto and Peter Himler of Flatiron Communications who handled moderation duties.

Lee Odden Peter Himler Nicco Mele Rob Key

Fifteen minutes before the session, the room was packed with people eventually standing against the back wall and it was clear that both the room and the topic of social media were going to be hot.

PR and Social Media Crowd PR and Social Media Crowd

TopRank Down Under with SEO, PR and Reputation Management

SunRise at 35,000 ft
Susan and I made it to Sydney, Australia early this morning and go to watch the sun rise over Eastern Australia during the descent. After a few hours getting through customs, then getting our bags x-rayed on the way out and then getting checked again to get into a line to get to the exit of the airport, we made it outside for the line to the taxis. It might have been a lot of hurry up and wait, but we were just thankful to be outside in the fresh air.

Tomorrow I’ll be doing a presentation on SEO and Public Relations. The buzz about SEO and PR has been strong the past few years, especially with Greg Jarboe, Jamie O’Donnel, Sally Falkow, Amanda Watlington and many others including TopRank making significant headway into developing new strategies and tactics for clients.

Bulldog Reporter Advanced PR Tech Chicago

After getting into the Chicago Hilton, a familar place from SES conferences, I walked the 3-4 blogs to the Columbia University campus where Bulldog Reporter was holding the Advanced PR Technology event. Greg Jarboe and I switched the time of our session with Katie Paine so she could make a plane to Dubai.

Regrettably I did not join the event in the am when it started and missed a number of fantastic speakers including Debbie Weil, but I did get to meet her for the first time. We are fellow bloggers over at Business Blog Consulting. Shel Israel blogged about Phil Gomes presentation here.