Lee Odden

Importance of Social Media & SEO for Public Relations

Social SEO PRMany would call the age we’re in, “Information Overload“.

Consider: Facebook is approaching 700 million users and Google handles over 11 billion queries per month. World-wide there are over 5 billion mobile subscribers (9 out of 10 in the U.S.) and every two days there is more information created than between the dawn of civilization and 2003. The age of communications and digital relationships between brands, the media and consumers has changed faster and in ways few could have anticipated.

With an ever increasing universe of data and ways to connect, PR and communications professionals are in a compelling position to master the new rules for consumer information discovery, consumption and sharing. As participants and content creators savvy about the search and social web, PR professionals can directly impact online brand visibility, customer engagement and acquisition.

A big part of how Public Relations pros can show more value for their efforts is to understand how the intersection of search and social media provides a powerful means to reach and engage media and consumers that inspires interaction, sharing and meaningful business outcomes.

Some of the fundamentals online PR and communications practitioners should seek to understand in the world of Social Media and SEO include:

  • Stay on top of future trends in search, social media and content marketing for PR
  • Gain insight into how social and search strategy can amplify media and public relations outcomes
  • Understand how to develop search & social personas – think like your customer’s customer
  • Be able to conduct strategic and on-demand research for keywords and topics relevant to search and/or the social web
  • Know best practices of SEO for Blogs, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and any other digital media produced for news distribution
  • High level of expertise with tools to improve quality, efficiency and scale

Call it convergence or consolidation, but no matter how you look at it, marketing and public relations expertise is unifying to bring brand messages and influence to the new search and social web.  It’s a compelling thing for PR professionals to gain an understanding of how search and social media channels can improve reach and placements. It’s even more impressive to step into the shoes of their customer’s customer as a marketer would and really understand how news is discovered, consumed and shared.

If you’re a public relations professional, have you begun implementing search and social media optimization into your news content strategy? How are you educating yourself and your teams on these best practices?

Later today I’ll be speaking to a soon to graduate class at St. Thomas University in St. Paul, MN about these topics and I’m also giving a 1-hour presentation at the upcoming Vocus User’s conference in Baltimore to a group of experienced PR professionals on Integrated Social SEO & PR.

While I have a few ideas and expertise to share, I’m most looking forward to the discussion and questions unique to each group.  If you have questions about incorporating Social SEO into your news content, leave a comment below.

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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 agree, staying updated on future trends is the key

  2. There’s no doubt that social media has become a critical part of any SEO campaign. Google have stated that they are placing more relevance on what people recommend on social media sites, so in order for any company to succeed, they need to look at themselves from a customer perspective and work out how well their company/product would be perceived in social media land.

  3. Thank you for the article, a number of great points! One stat that I wish to know, how has the marketing industry increased since social media has risen? I always see how many users FB has or Tweets fly through the airwaves, but nothing as to how many marketing companies have popped up since the social craze.

    • Quite a few companies and self professed social media experts have popped up. Just search Google for those phrases and you’ll get a idea of how many (too many).

  4. We have an in-house PR/Buzz team and they do a tremendous job of not only staying on top of both search and social trends but using them. As the SEO for the company, it’s invaluable. They ask about keywords, they aren’t afraid to ask for links (with anchor text), find guest posts, they help & obtain customers through twitter & they recently had an idea to create an entire section on the website that will help both customers and search engines…brilliant. After working with our team for two years, I am firmly under the impression that if your PR team isn’t doing this stuff, you need a new one.

  5. I have recently been introduced to the magic that is SEO. I have to thank Stefanie Moore, my PR Online Tactics professor at Kent State University, for this new passion of mine.

    Everything is online now. EVERYTHING! Who fingers through the yellow pages to find a phone number? As a matter of fact, why am I still getting three phonebooks a year? What a waste. Anyway…the importance of SEO is immense. If you want to be found online you MUST optimize. It’s not a voluntary thing. It just has to be done. If you’re not doing it, or your organization isn’t doing it, then you’re not doing everything you should be doing to help your organization or client.

    It’s amazing to me that adding meta data or a title tag to your Web content can amp up search rankings! Everyone needs to be doing this! There are so many tools out there (I opt for the free ones, being a poor college kid and all) that give you the ability to search trends and keywords or phrases, as well as the competition that goes along with them.

    I don’t think you need to be a marketing guru to understand what your consumers are searching for. As a PR professional, you should know your client (or organization if you’re in-house) and be able to conduct these simple searches and make the required adjustments without the help of your marketing people. Research is number one, people.

    I’m interested in optimizing my online portfolio (again, props to Stef Moore). A few clicks of a mouse and keyboard strokes and BOOM – you’re in the search results. This clearly isn’t a phenomenon that happens overnight, but it’s pretty darn close. I love those little crawlers, soaking up all my keywords and description and allowing the world to find me! Heck, I’m hopefully going to gain an internship out of this.

    I understand the need to integrate marketing and public relations, but it’s so frustrating to hear about the bottom line when, as a PR practitioner, you’re there to build mutually beneficial relationships with your publics…not rob them.

  6. Lee: I’ve started telling folks that SEO and SEM concepts need to be taught in college as part of PR instruction and given the same importance as AP style. But this is just half of the picture, by tapping into the analytics on the back end we’re able to show clients that site visitors that come from a third party blog post are more engaged with the site compared to site visitors that click through a banner ad. It makes perfect sense that this would be the case, but we have the math to back it up. Powerful stuff. Thanks.

    • Analytics = yes! Pulling in traffic through social & SEO is indeed just part of it I agree. One of the things I stressed in the presentation yesterday at a university here in the Twin Cities was being able to demonstrate more value from PR activities. Being able to measure the impact on business outcomes that reflect improved PR goals as well as contributing to marketing goals.

  7. That’s a great suggestion: “Think like your customer’s customer.” I would love to see you propose some specific productive tactics.

    • If tactics weren’t specific they wouldn’t be productive I suppose 🙂

      An example would be the homework that some (certainly not all) media relations people do with publications. It’s one thing to understand the nature and style of the journalist. But what about the audience they’re writing for? What about how that publication does business? How can you be a great resource to make that journalist’s job easier and how can you also consider the business and audience of the publication? What can you do to suggest stories, angles or perspectives that feed into the interests of the editorial goals of the publication (while also meeting your clients’ needs)

      In a way, that’s what I mean by customer’s customer although the above example isn’t exactly the right one.

  8. Great post Lee. A great follow up to this post would be one on the best tools and resources to keep up on trends and on demand research. It’s hard to keep up with the new reseources coming out all the time and it would be great to hear from you, and people commenting, which resources are getting great reviews.

    • Hey Brett, you mean resources specific to Social SEO & PR or something more specific?

      One of the great questions I was asked at St. Thomas yesterday was “How did you learn everything you know” … about social & SEO. The answer is, there isn’t one book, blog, conference or newsletter that will do it. Start with blogs like ours and network with others but also find ways to test. The best insight I’ve gained about online marketing came from experimentation with my own site or test sites. If you can find a way to do that, you’ll always be current and likely quite a bit ahead.

      • I was thinking that we learn a lot from blogs like yours, TechCrunch, Mashable, Social Media Examiner, Reel SEO and other usual suspects. It would be great to learn about emerging blogs, monitoring tools, etc. that others are finding success using. As you say, experimenting with your own site and client sites is the best way to learn. Thanks.

  9. Awesome post Lee.Keep posting good post like this

  10. Avatar Alex Jansen says

    I don’t think people started to think that Google has abandon pagerank but rather they have lowered it’s weight in SERPs. Now all the rage is understanding the algorithm changes and how to get higher SERPs results regardless of PR value.

    Also, Google’s exclusive license for PR is about to expire this year, so if they won’t do something about it, PR may appear everywhere. I can already see something like Twitter PR 🙂

    Alex J

    CEO & Founder

  11. Social media Optimization and Social media marketing are the hot fashions in the internet market. Most companies hire a social media strategist for getting what they still fail to figure out.

  12. Thanks for the insight. In fact, there is a debate now about which SEO strategy is more effective, using social media or traditional SEO like link building? Either way, social media has a great impact in today’s business industry.

  13. Avatar Sydney @ Social Dynamics says

    In this age of social media, PR can certainly be a challenging carrer. Especially, trying to navigate how to perfectly capture the listless mind of the masses, and conveying a product or a brand.

  14. Your online presence is a huge part of PR. Trending links and hash tags spread like wild
    fire.  For a company to be on top of these is a great SEO booster.

    Companies like Reputation Changer (www.reputationchanger.com)
    specialize in forming positive online presence for a company, celebrity, or product.

    There’s a wonderful article written by Derek Edmond on the importance of content curation that goes into this same idea as well.

    Great work Lee!

  15. Great article Unique thinking by modelling the innovative selling model through social media 

  16. Avatar Monique Valdez says

    Social media is absolutely taking over the world today. It has an incredible power to generate buzz. If you post good content, social media is the best way to promote your posts.

  17.  good post, I very much enjoyed reading it and I am sure the information will be of alot of use to me..