SEO will not slaughter PR, and PR does not own SEO
|August 21, 2012||Posted by admin under Digital, PR, Social Media|
Over at the Econsultancy blog, Chris Lee argues that SEO presents a significant threat to the PR industry. This debate has been around for a long time and doesn’t appear to be in any danger of being resolved in the near future.
There’s a not insignificant degree of overlap in the roles and responsibilities of PR and SEO, since they both have a heavy focus on persuading authoritative third parties to write about clients. PR does this because third party endorsement is good for the client’s reputation, and SEO does this because links from authoritative third party websites can have a positive impact on the client’s search engine rankings.
So SEO and PR are both trying to do the same kind of thing, albeit to achieve different objectives, and it’s not surprising that agencies on both sides of the fence have thought about eating each other’s lunches. Consequently there’s been a bit of back and forth over the past few years about which discipline should own the other, as if it’s ever going to be that simple.
There’s a problem with SEO people trying to do PR. Sure, a talented SEO might well be able to persuade some high profile websites to link to a client’s site, but are they really going to be able to construct a communications campaign that will secure coverage with the FT, BBC News or Heat Magazine? I find that highly improbable.
Can SEO agencies really do PR?
SEO agencies thinking of taking on PR should understand that there’s a lot more to it than copywriting and distributing press releases. Crisis comms, media training, message development, lobbying, events, developing and maintaining relationships with key media, the list goes on – it’s not as though PR is just one more skill an SEO executive can add to their CV, it’s a whole extra job.
The same applies for PR people who want to call themselves SEO specialists. There’s a lot more to it than getting the journalists to link to the client’s website when they publish an online article. Keyword identification, on-page optimisation, keeping up to date with the latest algorithm tweaks, understanding the difference between white and black hat tactics, analytics – if you’re going to get SEO right, there’s a lot of technical stuff to wrap your brain around.
Of course the clear overlap between SEO and PR means that in the rare instances when the two disciplines are aligned and working together in a coordinated way, great things can be achieved. That’s never going to happen when a client has hired separate SEO and PR agencies which are constantly trying to deposition and take work away from each other, which I think is a pretty strong argument in favour of integrated agencies that are truly capable of offering both services.
(Now might be an opportune time to mention that Text100 happens to have in-house SEO specialists. But I’m sure you already knew that…)