At Distilled, we often choose to work directly with our client’s PR team. Why? Because we gain valuable insights into a company’s existing marketing strategy from their PRs. After all, PRs have first-hand knowledge on which campaigns have been successful and which have not. Thus, they have the ability to tell us what they have learned from these past experiences, so that we won’t invest time and effort reinventing the wheel or recommending a strategy that they already know they don’t want to pursue.
Furthermore, PRs are already pros at outreach – they know how to find, engage, and collaborate with a variety of channels to gain coverage for their company. They know how to pitch a piece and what types of pieces would work for which outlets. This is very important as editorial content is becoming more and more valuable within the SEO industry.
Finally, PRs know how to hustle – they’re constantly pitching and vying for the attention of influencers in their space, while building meaningful relationships along the way. And they have similar goals as SEOs – they want coverage as badly as SEOs want links.
SEOs and PRs need to be working together. Instead of becoming two disjointed halves, we need to leverage the strengths of each other’s knowledge base and use it to garner both coverage and links – thus collaborating to elevate a site in both brand awareness, as well as increased rankings in organic search. The most effective way of doing so is to train your PRs to think like SEOs.
Recently, Lexi, Distilled’s PR consultant and I conducted an SEO training for a clients’ PR team. This particular client had a phenomenal marketing team that consisted of knowledgeable PRs, a social media expert, and content writers who knew how to write in the brand’s distinctive voice. Initially, we were brought on to develop and implement a linkbuilding strategy, but we quickly realized that a one-off infographic or content piece was not the right approach for this particular brand. Instead we wanted to focus on leveraging the client’s existing strengths and integrate SEO into it. We decided to train the PR team, so that they could begin integrating SEO into their workflow, while simultaneously working with the rest of their marketing team to come up with a cohesive content/linkbuilding strategy for their site.
Below are some of the topics we covered during this PR training.
SEO Training for PRs:
Step 1: Understanding How the PR Team Functions/Teaching PRs Basic SEO
Objective: Educate PRs on the basics of SEO and gain insight into their daily workflow.
Questions for the PR team:
- What does the PR team already know about SEO?
- What does their day-to-day activity involve?
- How do they measure and report PR activity? What metrics do they care about?
This will provide insights into the PRs’ current workflow process. The overall intent is NOT to increase the workload of the PR team, but to understand their goals and see what elements of SEO can be integrated into that process.
During this stage, conduct a brief overview of SEO – what is search and why is it important (see diagram below), how search engines determine rankings, etc…Remember, keep this aspect of the training as basic as possible. We want to ensure we’re not overwhelming the PRs with more knowledge than they need or can handle.
Step 2: Why Should PRs Care About SEO?
Objective: Have PR team understand how they could benefit from SEO.
This is a crucial step because if PRs aren’t sold on SEO and how it would benefit them, they’re less likely to implement it into their workflow. To make this step as effective as possible, you need to first understand the PR team’s current pain points. Then directly address these issues by explaining how SEO can solve some of these pains.
Some examples of benefits could include:
- Ranking highly for certain keywords leads to more organic traffic and/or opportunities to increase conversions (see diagram below)
- SEO can provide PRs with maximum visibility online, which increases the likelihood of PRs receiving coverage for content.
In our case, the client’s PR team told us that they had difficulty determining which metrics to report upon. Identifying their pain points was crucial because it justified why the PR team needed to invest in SEO. Our client’s specific pain point helped segue our PR training onto step 3.
Step 3: Demonstrating the Value of SEO Tools (SEOMoz’s Mozbar)
Objective: Have PRs start using SEO metrics. This will help them determine which sites to reach out to, as well as which metrics to report on.
Explain to the PR team that different links have different values – a link from the NY Times is more valuable than a link from a directory. In this case, to distinguish between the “trusthworthiness” of different sites, we had the PR team download the Mozbar and compare DA metrics across domains. This way we weren’t just telling them what they can do, but also showing them how they can conduct this process on their own.
SEOs should also explain to PRs the distinction between different types of links- like dofollow and nofollow links and how they could use the Mozbar to help them determine whether a site allows external dofollow links.
Finally, emphasize that any link is better than no link or a nofollowed link. If this means getting an image link, tell PRs that they should accept it, but have them understand that an image link is less valuable than a text-based, dofollow link. However, please be clear that ultimately, PRs should NEVER sacrifice coverage for links.
PR Training Summary:
The overall objective of this training is for PRs to start thinking about SEO when they’re outreaching or building relationships with individuals or companies relevant to their niche. The rationale is that because this industry changes rapidly, if we all want to stay ahead of the curve, we need to make sure that we’re working cohesively and effectively together.
At the end of this training, PRs should learn:
- How to build relationships with high-authority domains
- When getting coverage and subsequently, links, they should ask for a dofollowed link (but NOT sacrifice coverage in the process).
- If PRs are aware of which keywords their company is targeting, they can start asking for links with targeted anchor text.
Links Report Checklist for PRs
Below is a sample links report checklist I’ve created for PRs to use. This is designed to help PRs report on metrics from their linkbuilding efforts. This also ensures that PRs are using SEO metrics when determining which sites to contact and develop relationships with.
Stephanie Chang SEO Consultant