Lee Odden

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.

News SEO is distinctly different from SEO for lead generation since the desired outcome is not a new customer or a sale, but to be a source for a journalist writing a story and possibly an ongoing collaboration. News content optimization folds in nicely with digital asset optimization as we’ll be identifying the kind of content and assets most PR departments can best leverage for optimization.

Embrace the social, not the drive by. Some PR agencies have been able to fully embrace these shifts at their core, and not only become successfully involved with online communities but have been instrumental at facilitating PR’s role in the various online channels such as social networking, blogs and search. These agencies are best prepared to represent brands in a win-win situation over those firms that skim social media with drive by pitching and promotion tactics and without a full understanding of the medium.

Avoid the “dand bramage” of sloppy social. Not fully understanding social media communities for example, has resulted in far more brand damage rather than audience engagement. There’s an unfortunate history with some PR agencies of brand embarrassments as a result of fake blogs, user accounts on social news sites and fake social network participation. Apparently, when SEO consultants do this en masse, it’s perceived by some as an acceptable risk and by others as a bad marketing decision. Trying to fake the social web with an established brand is very risky and in my opinion, just plain stupid.

Get busy with Digital PR and public relationships. PR and media relations consultants and organizations are now charged with embracing the online culture of user generated media and the social web. Participation, transparency and conversation are the buzz words for the future of PR as in “Publicly Relating” or “Public Relationships”. The question is, “How to best start incorporating the new rules of the social web into a digital PR effort?”

To start answering that question, be sure to read tomorrow’s Part 2 post in this series on leveraging high/low tech for social media relations.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Lee,

    Looking forward to your upcoming posts – I’ve found an increasing number of PR professionals asking for help in really understanding how to leverage (and negotiate) social media, SEO and bloggers in their practices.

    It’s fun to work to build better understanding of the rules of the road with the folks who should be the very best at optimizing content for biggest impact.

  2. good post.. being the dir. of internet marketing at a ad Agency/PR Firm, my dept, (SEO, etc..) pretty much works with PR on a daily basis and the PR dept. touches me for something on social every day.

  3. Lee, great post. I see alot of what we are doing becoming a convergence of Social Media, SEO & PR. And they all work hand in hand. Can’t wait for the rest of the series!

  4. Judging by the fact that yet another (national) PR firm sent me a press release for my blog, positioned terribly, it’s clear that plenty of agencies need to be brought up to speed.

    Again, it isn’t that difficult – you just need to actually USE this space to ‘get it.’

  5. Janet, paisley and Martin – yes, convergence is inevitable but for many, it will take the pain of dramatic decreases in revenue to wake up.

    Adam, I am sorry to say your experience continues to be mine as well. As long as PR firms fail to educate their staff and actually take the time to participate, especially the interns delegated to pitch and write releases, then they’ll continue to annoy, alienate and disappoint the very influencers they’re trying to reach.

    It’s not all PR firms though, some of the onus is on clients too and their expectations. Education and awareness are key.

  6. Thanks for your comment on Spotlight Ideas.
    Wasn’t sure if you thought your blog hadn’t been included in the list. Just to clarify: you’re blog has always been (and is) in the Spotlight Ideas’ Top 100 Advertising, Marketing, Media & PR Blog list! You might have been looking at the Top 100 Plus list, instead. This is the link to the Top 100 list where you are included.

  7. I believe if PR agencies were fully knowledgeable on the subject of web 2.0, social media, SEO etc… they’d be a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately many of them fail miserably.

  8. Thanks Eamon, but the blog listed at the URL you’ve posted above is a UK blog (onlinemarketingblog.co.uk) with the same name as ours “Online Marketing Blog”.

    That’s not us as you can see from the URL in your browser: (toprankblog.com) We’re the “original” Online Marketing Blog 🙂

  9. How do you respond to managers who believe that social media should reside in eBusiness (the group that manages web content)? I strongly believe it should reside in marketing/PR. Thoughts?

  10. Mark, social media like SEO requries a collaboration between eBusiness and marketing/PR. Typically, Marketing and PR would own it but eBusiness would be a partner in a sense because both working together are necessary for a successful effort.

  11. Just wanted to drop a message saying I came across your site through google looking for seo tips. I’m glad I found it. It’s bookmarked!

  12. Great thoughts! I’m a senior in college and just joined a marketing firm as a PR intern. The firm is called 451 Marketing (www.451marketing.com) because paper burns at 451 degrees. Mainly everything we work with revolves around social media, PR 2.0, and SEO, and this firm has grown tremendously because of these views on PR practices . I believe it’s something thats required in this technology driven age.

  13. I think everyone across the world is struggling with the web PR bit these days. I guess it descended upon us way too fast for us to train professionals at every level. Being in the Indian PR arena for more than a dozen years, I know how top-priority it is.
    But here’s a tricky thought. I find that the PR seniors (unlike me), are usually less tech savvy. I witness that every day when I see them using their PCs or mobiles, and I ask myself — Are these the ones who’ll bring about the web PR revolution?


  1. […] TopRank’s internet marketing blog on the intersection of digital PR, social and search engine marketing. Home  About  Resources  Archives  Subscribe  Contact  « Digital PR and SEO Series: Part 1 […]

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