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How to Optimize PR for the Web

Posted by Media Relations on Tuesday, August 17th, 2010 - Comments »

“People who write web copy often write for a particular audience: customers, or analysts, or journalists. But there’s an extra audience you should always consider: search engines.”

Lee Odden is a man with a message: write to your audience. Of course, PR pros knew that already. If we’re pitching to a tech publication, we talk tech; if we’re pitching to a newspaper, we’re topical. However, we’re still ignoring the audience of the search engine – and it’s one of the most influential publics we have. Search engines don’t buy our products and they don’t write the news – but they influence everyone who does. No one knows this better than Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing. His business is built on optimizing brands’ online performance, and he believes that ‘Optimized PR’ – the practice of integrating the opportunities offered by search engine optimization and social media into your PR – is the future.

“Optimized PR reacts to opportunities.’ says Odden. ‘The opportunities are in the way that journalists, analysts and bloggers are doing their jobs now. An astronomical number of journalists have lost their jobs in the last five or ten years. Those that remain in the newsroom are expected to do more with less. They’re using search and social media to do their research and to identify themes, trends and emerging stories. Our own surveys show that between 90 and 100 percent of them have used Google as a part of their job. Optimized PR helps them find your company.”

“TopRank gets anywhere from ten to thirty unsolicited media pick-ups every month from industry publications that cover search and Internet marketing,” says Odden. “There’s no PR firm; no outbound pitching. It’s Optimized PR, and there are two elements to it. The first is creating keyword-optimized content so that journalists and bloggers find your company where they’re searching. The second element is pushing that content out through self-grown social media networks and channels of distribution.”

Although the language might sound intimidating, the activity itself isn’t. Broken down into its parts, much of Optimized PR will come naturally to PR professionals skilled in building networks and creating topical content; while other elements can be accomplished with inexpensive online tools. So where do we, as relative novices, start?

“Start with optimizing a press release,” says Odden. “This involves keyword research. Start with the notion of what’s important and pop that into a keyword research tool. It comes back with multiple variations, ordered by popularity, so you can make smart choices about the words you use in your titles and press releases and articles. Just by doing that, you’re giving yourself an advantage, because your press release is now more likely to be discovered through Google search.

“Now, you could take your optimized press release and also create a blog post of that same news. Maybe you’ve got a video embedded in the press release. What if you transcribe that video as part of your blog post? Or take some screenshots of important parts of the video, and add those to the blog post. You’ve now got new, original content by repurposing what you already had.”

“Then,” he continues, “you push that social-friendly version of the press release out through social media channels. This assumes you’ve made the effort to grow a Twitter network, a Facebook network, a LinkedIn network. Your blog might have a large number of subscribers, and an email newsletter. Other readers might find your post through blog search, or image search. If they can find it, they can link to it – and those links move you up the search engine rankings and make it easier for journalists to find you. Now, your social media channels are working together with your press release. You’ve got something optimized for search, and optimized for social: you’ve got Optimized PR, and its reach is… there’s just no comparison.”

“Compare that to pitch – the idea of just pushing a press release,” says Odden, “Compare interrupting a journalist’s day and asking them to write about your company with the idea of a journalist on a deadline, who goes to Google and finds you because you’ve written an optimized piece of content, prompting them to connect with you via Facebook to set up the call that will enable them to get their story finished.

“Of course, the two techniques work together. Often, as a journalist, you get your pitch, you read it for 10 or 15 seconds and you go straight to Google and search for the company who’s sent it. If that company has optimized their content and they show up, that connection is priceless. It’s almost like third-party validation.

It’s a convincing sell, but you might remain unconvinced of your ability to put the technical aspects of SEO and social media channeling into practice. Odden, however, has encouragement for you.

“Experiment and participate,” he advises. There are companies who acknowledge that they may not have the resources to do it, so they hire people like us. Others might do some self-education by going to conferences and training sessions; there’s online education and lots of resources. But none of that means anything unless you experiment yourself. Start a blog, do some of the social things to grow a network, then pick content optimization opportunities and try your hand. And SEO is easy to try. Even if you just Google, ‘Learn SEO’, you’ll find a resource that gives you advice.”

Article originally published by Vocus

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