Where PR and SEO Merge: Outreach & Building Relationships


There is a running gag in the SEO industry when it comes to the acronym PR: it means PageRank of course, not Public Relations. In recent years many forgot their PageRank fetish though and started approaching the public and increasing their time investment in relations.

As SEO changes fast and PR adapts step by step to the Web environment we see a convergence or even a merger of both when it comes to so called blogger outreach and influencer relationships.

Many people still consider PR to be old school press releases and the likes. SEO practicioners have been sending out press releases for a decade now too, mostly to get easy links but increasingly also to reach real people.

PR Meets SEO

Progressive PR specialists have been using new media and especially the Web for more than press releases for years too. With new buzzwords like inbound marketing or content marketing gaining momentum the tasks of PR and SEO experts have been growing more similar over time.

Now it’s the time when both the PR and the SEO groups should team up.

Why? PR practitioners are still dealing largely with “one size fits all” audiences geared towards mass media while SEO specialists have a firm grasp on the technical aspects of the Web but often fail to take a leap of faith towards to the humanized social Web that is the reality today.

As a blogger I often get approached by both PR and SEO people to feature their clients.

PR people often use the outdated “send unified message to 1000 reporters” approach while SEO people fail at reaching out people one by one as well, automating the process for example.

On the other hand the forward-looking individuals of both trades manage to get the word out and intrigue bloggers so that they write about the products or services their clients want to sell. This post focuses on techniques both PR and SEO practicioners can successfully employ to make bloggers blog about the products and services they promote.

Influencer Outreach

Whether you want the direct impact of the publicity you get from the blog like PR people do or the indirect support via the link juice so that Google re-ranks your site accordingly like SEO people do you have to reach out to influencers these days. No wonder online influence measurement services like Klout or Kred thrive. These free tools compete with enterprise-level paid solutions like Traackr.

Everybody wants to get a grip on the accumulated influence social media power users have in their hands.

The above mentioned tools can help you and your company to find and approach the right influencers. You want to deal with the people who actually are interested in your products or services and who have some expertise in this area as well. Sometimes a simple Google search for a query like [your topic + blog] will suffice though.

Personal Approach

Sending the exact same press release (PR) or guest blogging pitch (SEO) to hundreds of contacts may scale but it doesn’t work with me. I doubt that other bloggers are fond of standardized messages. What you need is to focus on a few people you really want to reach: then you need to do at least some research on them.

I get lots of emails where the sender apparently doesn’t even know my name or the name of the publication I write for.

It just suffices to look a person up on social media like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to get the name and the business the site they represent right.

Long standing PR professionals already know that, they have approached journalists personally in the past not sending the exact same release to CNN and to Discovery Channel. Old school SEO specialists have done that in the past, when approaching potential partners for link exchanges.

Influencer Research

Now that you know what my name is and who I write for (hint, I write for several blogs in two languages) it’s advisable to also find out what my favorite medium is. For example I drown in emails despite trying to limit their number and only checking them once daily in the evening. On the other hand I check my Twitter messages and Google+ interactions several times a day.

Your standardized email will most probably get overlooked, your personalized message on social media will most probably be seen.

Ideally you use a social CRM tool to connect with me in the long term so that once you got something for me again half a year later you still know who I am and what channel I prefer.

Value Proposition

Relevant products to test, events to take part in, exclusive news are strong value propositions to include on top of your outreach mail and in the headline ideally.

High quality PR people are often better at offering actual value. Low quality SEOs will often send me fuzzy messages

where they talking are about cooperation or why links are great for a site etc. They want the link but have often nothing of value to give me. This is an ideal case for PR and SEO people to work together or someone combining both skills. Approach the blogger like a PR person interested in a long term cooperation with a journalist and make sure that the outcome is also a hyperlink visible on their site like an SEO person.

Your value proposition is the most important part of your message. It’s something that I want and only you can give me. So it’s not the publicity or link you want but the unique item or information you can offer.

Readymade Relevant Content

A short summary, a list of highlights and 3 to 5 high quality images are what I need. No office documents, PDFs, or huge huge image galleries behind a password to check out first. I don’t want corporate speak. I want a short explanation of what it is, what it does and where to see it in action. Many PR people do not even include the proper URL!

I need a message only when it matters. Some PR agencies send me mails weekly. I get some press releases that are so irrelevant to me that I can’ distinguish them from SPAM.

In case you send me three irrelevant messages in a row I will probably never again look at your emails. My time is very limited, unlike a traditional journalist who gets paid for research and writing I am lucky in case I even earn money with my blog. So you are making me work for free. I don’t like that especially if you waste my time with attachments and fuzzy statements.

 Call to Action

A PR or SEO message is like a landing page. You want to lead me to the desired action, So don’t forget a call to action. Something like “register here” to take part in the event, simply “hit reply” to get a product to test, “ask a question” in case you want exclusive insights on the latest developments. I’m not a CRO expert so my examples are a bit clumsy but you get he point I hope.

The Outcome

In case you take these things into account I will be delighted to get a message from you and will be able to publish your material quickly.

Bloggers can’t research all day like journalists still can do. They are thankful for every kind of support. BTW: many journalists work more and more like bloggers these days so you don’t have to split strategies anymore.


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