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What Does Web 2.0, Social Media and SEO have to do with Public Relations? Everything!

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You’d be hard pressed to find any modern public relations agency practice that isn’t researching or already implementing a digital public relations strategy including search engine optimization, blogging/blogger relations and social media. Many public relations practitioners are scrambling to adjust to the opportunities presented by shifts in both consumer and journalist behavior online.

Look no further than popular public and media relations conferences like the upcoming PRSA 2008 International Conference event to see exactly how the public relations industry is making a concerted effort to educate itself on new opportunities with Web 2.0, SEO and social media.

The Point of Connection is coming. In fact, I will be doing a half-day, pre-Conference workshop for the PRSA International event October 25 from 1–5 p.m., “Optimizing Content for Optimum Search Results: Search Engine Optimization for News.” News SEO is distinctly different from SEO for lead generation since the desired outcome is not a new customer or a sale, but to be a source for a journalist writing a story and possibly an ongoing collaboration. News content optimization folds in nicely with digital asset optimization as we’ll be identifying the kind of content and assets most public relations departments can best leverage for optimization.

Embrace the social, not the drive by. Some public relations agencies have been able to fully embrace these shifts at their core, and not only become successfully involved with online communities but have been instrumental at facilitating public relations’ role in the various online channels such as social networking, blogs and search. These agencies are best prepared to represent brands in a win-win situation over those firms that skim social media with drive by pitching and promotion tactics and without a full understanding of the medium.

Avoid the “dand bramage” of sloppy social. Not fully understanding social media communities for example, has resulted in far more brand damage rather than audience engagement. There’s an unfortunate history with some public relations agencies of brand embarrassments as a result of fake blogs, fake user accounts on social news sites and fake social network participation. Trying to fake the social Web with an established brand is very risky and not worth short term gains in buzz.

Public relations and media relations consultants are now charged by their clients and the industry with embracing the online culture of user generated media and the social Web. Participation, transparency and conversation are the buzz words for the future of public relations as in “Publicly Relating” or “Public Relationships.” The question is, “How to best start incorporating the new rules of the social Web into a digital public relations effort?”  You’ll find the answer to that question and many more at the PRSA 2008 International Conference in Detroit.

Lee Odden, cheif executinve officer, TopRank Online Marketing (a digital marketing and public relations agency), has worked on a wide range of Web site marketing projects with companies that include HP, Mckesson and Northwest Airlines. He is a regular speaker at PRSA, DMA, Search Engine Strategies, OMMA, Blog World and Media Relations Summit events lecturing on topics of new media public relations, search and social media marketing, and has been cited in stories run in U.S News, The Economist and PR Week. An active blogger, Lee writes and edits Online Marketing Blog, which is currently ranked #3 on Advertising Age’s Power 150, and is one of the top 200 “popular blogs” on Technorati. He is also co-founder of Misukanis Odden Public Relations.

Join Lee Odden for his FREE webinar, Top 10 Search Engine Optimization Tactics for Public Relations Pros: Help Google Foind Your Releases.

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Lee Odden


  • I couldn’t agree more that PR folks need to be smarter about SEO practices (I actually just blogged about it here I find that some of the most valuable information that I get from SEO is a more nuanced look at publications and blogs, their audience and the traffic patterns of their viewers when they come to a client’s website. Will you be addressing the “optimization” potential in that data in your presentation?

  • Thanks for the comment and question Nadja. Segmenting traffic sources with web analytics to specific web sites outside of search is valuable for high traffic link/referrers. For most PR Professionals, that level of access and involvement with web analytics is rare, but your post is very hopeful.

  • It may be because a lot of my clients are in tech, but I find that most are using Google Analytics already and are also willing to share access. The tool has everything that you need to do the type of tracking that I talk about in the blog post, and I actually wouldn’t be surprised if understanding (and use) of analytics grew in the PR/Marketing professions, especially as folks get more SEO savvy.

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