Lee Odden

Improve Public Relations with SEO & Social Media

burstThe media relations landscape has changed as traditional publications have downsized, re-focused online or been eliminated altogether.

Fundamentally, Public Relations serves two groups:  The companies that pay for representation and the journalists, analysts, reporters and increasingly, bloggers, that rely on PR professionals as a source of news content.

Ad dollars shifting online combined with changes in consumer information discovery, consumption and sharing habits via the social web present both challenges and opportunities for PR agencies to deliver more value to their clients. That value can be provided through integration of SEO and social media with news content.

In a 2008 Journalists Use of Search Survey by TopRank, 91% of respondents reported using standard search engines to perform activities such as research companies, past media coverage and subject matter experts.  In the same study, 64% reported using social networks, 55% use blogs and 50% use Wikis as social media tools.

The increased use of search and social media both by the media and by end consumers should motivate PR professionals to better understand the digital PR strategies and mechanics of successful SEO and social web participation.  Keyword research, content optimization and promotion along with link building make up the core of search engine optimization for news content. Press releases, archived webinars, white papers, video, podcasts, blogs and past media coverage are all opportunities for news SEO.

Optimized news content can be combined with social features such as RSS feeds, bookmarking, “Tweet this” and social news submission links.  News can be keyword optimized and packaged according to relevant channels whether it’s a press release, social media release, video or blog posts.

Making it easy for journalists or end consumers to find and interact with news content can provide a substantial boost to PR results in a time where the value of PR budgets are in question.

In about 2 weeks I will be doing a session at the PRSA Digital Impact conference on New York about SEO and Public Relations. If you’re in the area, check it out. The whole event has sessions on many digital PR topics with a Keynote from Social Media PR Guru, Brian Solis.

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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. I run a statewide “intermediary” between digital media businesses and education. Are there some articles about how blogs can be used to spread particular views on let’s say, workforce development. Specifically, we are trying to strengths ties between industry and schools for 13-22 year olds, by trying to replicate successful programs in Ireland and India to draw development dollars to develop workforce. We believe we can strengthen school programs through articulation agreements, model curriculum, replication sites and teacher training using industry designed and driven programs. How to get industry to re-consider investing more in domestic workers is the issue. Any advice?

  2. SEO and Public Relations need to have more of an open dialogue. Because both are working towards the same goal: inbound customer leads. If you can tie these two together with more then analytics…you will be doing a fantastic job.

    I also think that both parties could learn a lot from each other.

  3. eye opener…

  4. Great post. Looking forward to seeing you at the PRSA Digital Impact conference.

  5. Avatar Ryan Bridges says

    Very true about the journalists, reporters and bloggers taking stories from the PR department. If they could work out a system to work together, it would be pretty dynamic. But, as it is, they are not helping their supposed cause.

  6. Great post. Unfortunately, as things change over time, people become defensive and entrenched.

  7. Avatar Glenn Melby says

    Thanks for an interesting post. I’m afraid it’s a long way to go to change the traditional view of Public Relations.

  8. Avatar ManagePROnline says

    Great Article and good comments!

    I wish I can attend the conference 🙁

    Looking forward to read your post on summary of the event


  9. Excellent post. I’m actually surprised the use of blogs and wikis isn’t higher.

  10. The Forrester blog recently published a study that videos are 50 times more likely to hit the front page of Google than a text page. That alone makes using video and video press releases and important strategy for PR folks. You’re right – the more PR folks start thinking like marketers and less like traditional publicists the better they, and more importantly, their clients will fare.

    • Exactly Morgan. PR needs to take into consideration all the digital assets available to them in reaching audiences whether it’s video, images, audio or various distribution formats like RSS. Google “digital asset optimization” for more on that topic.

  11. I really enjoy this site. I am working a website alone and use quite a few ideas I pick up here to improve business.