I was having a discussion with one of my oldest and closest friends the other day about his career. He wants to go farther in the world of public relations but doesn’t quite know what he needs to get there. So, as an enterprising go-getter, he started making connections and asking other PR pros what he needs to know in this day and age to get ahead of the competition. What one professional told him made me laugh and then made me think.
“To get ahead, you need to know two things: Google Analytics and SEO.
This kind of stopped me in my tracks. Yes, analytics and SEO are extremely important in the digital world. They go hand in hand – one promotes your website while the other tracks how you’re doing. For instance, you can be at the top of the rankings for a key term, but if your bounce rate for that page is insanely high, you might need to change some things. SEO only gets you the attention you need; analytics will tell you exactly how long and what happens after the user sees your page.
But what shocked me is that it wasn’t a marketing executive that was telling my friend how essential these tools are, but a public relations professional with many, many years in the business. So has public relations and marketing suddenly become the same thing? I remember when I was in college for my masters, I took an internship in the PR department at a museum in Harrisburg. I shared an office with the marketing intern and although we had separate duties
- wrote press releases and tracked media coverage, she worked on advertisements and video
- did seem like our jobs were very similar.
However, PR does differ from marketing. Public relations strategies are more concerned with the reputation the brand has with the public. Unlike marketing, where you are promoting the brand in order to get the customer to buy, public relations is more about information – we want to show you how wonderful this brand is, to make you trust it so when you do buy it, you know that you made an excellent choice. Yes, they are very similar but their final goals are different. For marketing, it’s to make people buy your brand. For PR, it’s to build a relationship between you and the public.
So what can PR possibly need to know about SEO and analytics? It made me scratch my head but I think I got the answer. It’s more that they need to understand the importance of it. For instance, when writing a press release, you usually put in the contact information of the brand, such the website. This a valuable backlink for your brand and you must make sure not only to include this information but that it’s correctly optimized.
In addition, your website and your PR teams need to be on the same page. If a major press release is going out at 9 am to all media outlets, you need to make sure your web developer has that press release up on the site and fully optimized for search engines at the same time. A PR professional can also help with sharing content as well. For example, someone in marketing creates an infographic, and the PR team can take that infographic and pitch it to media sources to create links.