Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Public Relations

Are PR and SEO secretly having an affair? Is there something going on behind closed doors between one of the newest marketing tactics and one of the oldest? If there isn’t there should be because these two are made for each other.

Let’s look at two PR techniques from a SEO perspective: Press releases and thought-leadership articles.

Part One: Optimizing Press Releases

Press releases were once a primary means of acquiring publicity in the media- you sent a bunch out and hoped a reporter fished yours out of the pile for an article or other coverage. Then the Internet came along and with a few clicks and a credit card you could send millions of people your release instantly. And you could link back to your website so they could get all the goods they needed to write a glowing piece about your new widget. Cool, right?

Well, for a few Internet minutes maybe. Unfortunately everyone else can also send out those millions of releases and they do, every day, every hour and every minute. If you’re a reporter you’re buried in this stuff and after a while you don’t see them anymore (just like we’ve learned to tune out banner ads while surfing- but that’s another subject…). So press releases lost a lot of their value.

Now along comes SEO, the fine art of driving relevant search traffic to your web site. SEO is based on two things: Keywords and authoritative inbound links. You build good site content around a set of commonly searched phrases related to your business (keywords) and you try to get great sites in your subject matter area to link to your site. These two things, in combination, tell the search engines that your site is a leading authority in your subject matter. As a result you move up the coveted organic rankings, hopefully to a top three position. Lots of people find your site, like what they find there and buy, subscribe, call, etc.

So what does this have to do with press releases? Actually it changes the way you write and utilize them because when you post a release these days it is indexed by the search engines. That means it is instantly available directly to anyone searching in your subject matter area. So you need to optimize it. Write a juicy keyword-laden headline. Start your paragraphs off with keywords where possible. Answer the kinds of questions people might search for in your subject area. This doesn’t mean repeating the same keywords over and over- that’s a no-no. You still need to tell a compelling story. But now the goal of that story is to get the readers (not the media) to want to visit your site. You also embed links to relevant site pages (landing pages) in the release using your keyword phrases as anchor text (ask your web guy what this means- it is important). Now your ubiquitous and newly indexed release is a driver of qualified traffic to the exact areas of your site you want them to visit.

Part Deux: Thought Leadership Articles and Inbound Link (bait)

It used to be that PR pros sought to place articles primarily to establish expertise, market leadership and authority. These are still worthy goals but I’m going to add an additional one: Enhancing the authority of your site from a SEO perspective. The search engines rank your site in part (a big part) by how many sites link to you and how relevant they are to your subject matter area. If you are able to place an article in a major trade site, for example, and embed keyword anchored links in that article, you have hit link gold. You will see your site rise in the ranks and that is a good thing.

It’s my opinion, and one we’re exporing here at Martino Flynn, that we have to optimize everything we do including broadcast, video, print, PR and the web. We’re going on the assumption that everything will be indexed. After all Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information. So make sure you’re helping them with your PR.

Martino Flynn, LLC, Honored at 2007 PRism Ceremony

Martino Flynn, LLC, was recognized for its public relations work last evening at the annual Public Relations Society of America/Rochester PRism Awards ceremony. While the public relations department took home two PRism Awards and one Award of Excellence, the evening’s highest honor was bestowed on agency partner Raymond Martino, who received the 2007 Sharleen M. Bruse Award.

The Bruse Award is rewarded to a PRSA member with more than 10 years of experience who epitomizes the integrity and professionalism of a public relations practitioner. Recipients are also very involved in community service and routinely help advance the career development of other chapter members.

Martino has been an active member of the Rochester PR scene for the past 35 years. He started his career as an administrator and faculty member at St. John Fisher College and then moved to an administrator role at the University of Rochester. From there, Martino launched his consulting career and founded Martino & Associates. Then in 1997, he merged his firm with The Flynn Agency to form Martino Flynn.

Martino has also been closely involved with organizations that serve the well-being of the local economy and community, including the Italian Heritage Foundation of Rochester, PRSA, Rochester Press-Radio Club, Small Business Council of the Rochester Business Alliance, Upstate New York Regional Board of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, and WXXI Public Broadcasting Council.

Martino Flynn programs that received PRisms this year include:

  • The Bonadio Group’s Rise to Mega-Regional Status: Editorial/Op-Ed Column;
  • MCC is Listening – Image Campaign Research: Research.

Martino Flynn was also awarded an Award of Excellence for:

  • CooperVision Kicks PC Hydrogel into High Gear: Integrated Campaign.

The PRism Awards recognize great work in the area of public relations. Categories include electronic and print materials, such as video news releases and interactive presentations, as well as direct mail, brochures, and press kits. Both corporate and not-for-profit sectors are recognized in each category. The Rochester chapter’s annual PRism Awards ceremony was held June 7 at The Lodge at Woodcliff in Fairport.

Ten Lesser Known Secrets of Blogging

I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now on my own and for the last year on behalf of my employers (formerly for BlueTie* and currently here on Blip). Because one aspect of my job requires me to keep up with developments in all kinds of online marketing, I spend some time in the blogosphere reading about what works and doesn’t when blogging.

One of the great things about this is when you find something really valuable in an unexpected place like this post, Ten Lesser Known Secrets of Blogging, from Yehuda, an Israeli blogger whose subject and obsession is board games. Yes, he blogs successfully and exhaustively on board games. So if you have a fascination, large or small, try blogging- his post can give you a big headstart.

* BTW, after I left BlueTie for Martino Flynn they went back and changed the author name on all my blog posts, an interesting decision in retrospect.

London Olympics Logo Causes Seizures!

Design Observer weighs in on the huge hub-bub about the $800,000. logo for the London Olympics. This thing looks ‘designed by committee’ to me. Probably (certainly) ‘approved by committee’ too.

One of the worst things we can do to a creative team is have a bunch of people critique every element and add in their two cents. Brainstorming is great, IMHO, early in the game.  Doing it after a creative direction has been communicated is like starting over with every succeeding iteration becoming more and more diluted. That’s what I think took place in London. How else do you spend $800,000 on a logo?

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Cue lights. Cue music. Cue cheerleaders.

“Hey Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey (clap clap clap), hey Mickey (clap clap clap)…”

Ahhh… some of the best songs have come from bands that will forever be known as one-hit wonders. Remember “Rico Suave” and “Mambo No. 5?” What about “How Do You Talk to an Angel?” You know, that guy who played Donna Martin’s boyfriend on Beverly Hills 90210 sang it.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the “Macarena” every bit as much, if not more, than the next person, but if I were Right Said Fred, I’d want to be known for much more than “I’m Too Sexy.”

In public relations and advertising, we talk about the importance of building momentum and keeping your brand and messages top of mind with target audiences. At the end of the day, what we’re really talking about is sustainability. It’s so easy to get caught up in the here and now that long-term goals and vision can fall by the wayside.

And, while I’m sure Devo wasn’t thinking about their next hit when they were in the thralls of recording “Whip It,” it’s very important to see the big picture. Because when you do, you can use the right marketing mix to make sure you’re in it.

By the way, who actually did let the dogs out? I don’t think we’ll ever know.

The Official Blog of Martino Flynn