There is a growing tension in our industry about the evolving and blurring roles of PR, Content and SEO. Too often these channels work in silo.
Although all three channels measure performance against different metrics, they are ultimately working together towards one common goal: growing visibility by building meaningful connections between people and brands.
So, how can you ensure that your PR, Content and SEO efforts are integrated and working in symbiosis, rather than competing with each other? The key is to look where the commonalities lie and how they can be leveraged across all three functions.
Cross-Channel Insight Generation
Each channel has a specific role to play in up-front insight discovery. For content, we need to delve into the nitty-gritty of the audience: what content are they consuming, and across which channels? For PR, it’s knowing which topical trends, conversations and events are relevant to the brand, and for SEO it’s unpacking audience search behaviour. If your brand or inter-agency team doesn’t have a process in place for centralising and sharing cross-channel insights ahead of campaign planning, you’re missing a trick.
Opportunity: Facilitate up-front insight sharing to encourage more consumer-centric, integrated campaign planning.
Increase Content Credibility
PR, SEO and content marketing teams are simultaneously creating regular, high-value content, just with varying audiences and objectives in mind. Collaboration during the editorial planning process enables teams to both understand and strengthen the collective output.
PRs tend to own the relationship with journalists, who have a sharp understanding of what will appeal to their readers and what they want to publish. Content marketers and SEOs can leverage this insight to bolster the editorial edge of their content – making content more topical, credible and newsworthy.
Opportunity: Integrate your content ideation process, including PR shareability as a lens on ideation. Encourage further collaboration by creating a centralised, cross-functional editorial calendar.
Earned Content Cut Through
In the glory days of social media, brands were able to distribute quality, consistent content via social and were rewarded with steady audience growth and organic engagement. Things aren’t that simple anymore. More brands are creating more content, meaning organic social reach is lower than it’s ever been. As a result, brands are heavily reliant on paid media to connect their content with their audiences.
If you are already investing time creating rich, high-value content, it is time to turn your attention to earned media. Digital PR or outreach aims to place your content in front of the right people – journalists, bloggers, and influencers. Imagine your content asset as a highly impactful, audience-aligned press release – earning reach as people and platforms share it, link to it, or simply mention your brand.
The more valuable and shareable the content is to the audience, the more likely it is to be picked up. Think rich formats like video, research reports, templates or infographics.
Opportunity: Work collaboratively to deliver a holistic digital outreach program that bolsters the earned reach of your content.
Consider Valuable Backlinks
One of the most crucial factors in SEO is the number of high-value links coming back to a brand’s website. Backlinks signal to search engines that the brand and content are reputable, which in turn, grows the authority of the website and its performance in organic search results.
By design, a successful PR program tends to attract brand mentions on high value websites, including publications and news properties. Nonetheless, we frequently come across brands funnelling large investment into PR activations and media outreach, but missing smaller SEO considerations to drive the most value from their efforts. This is one of the key areas where PR and SEO teams can work closer together to drive success.
Opportunity: Consider SEO opportunities during PR campaign planning, establishing processes to ensure correct linking back to your website.
Extend the Value of Influencer Partnerships
The influencer marketing space has changed rapidly in recent years. In this current landscape, we know social content creators as ‘influencers’. However, let’s not forget, before the rise of Facebook and Instagram, the influencer sphere was dominated by bloggers. SEO specialists were leveraging these partnerships to acquire quality backlinks to their websites, boosting organic visibility.
While all three channels use influencer marketing to achieve their specific goals, this doesn’t mean they should be planned in silo. The best influencer programs consider the holistic value of these relationships across different metrics. For PR teams, it is around building positive brand associations and discussion. In content marketing, it is about leveraging influencers to generate highly engaging content that can be harnessed cross-channel. To drive SEO success, we need to consider domain authority and how the influencer links back to the brand’s website.
Opportunity: Shortlist and engage influencers with cross-channel success indicators in mind. Keep a central database to ensure the right influencers are involved in the most relevant campaigns.
Each channel has a duty to report on performance. While each channel has their own individual measures of success (the micro indicators), it is important to align efforts to provide a holistic view on the impact of each channel on the wider business performance (the macro objectives).
As marketers, we must get better at demonstrating the combined impact of these channel relationships.
We must ensure all activity is correctly tagged and tracked, enabling cross-channel reporting. Too often, this is an afterthought when it should be considered upfront in campaign planning.
If your teams are working in synergy, you will have the ability to pull integrated performance reports and generate clear insights on how the channels work in unison to achieve shared objectives. For example, integrating backlinks into your PR material will allow you to report on the traffic that activity has driven to your site, in turn boosting your SEO performance.
Opportunity: Create a custom reporting framework that identifies and reports on both micro and macro performance.
It’s true that the lines between PR, SEO and Content Marketing are becoming progressively blurred. However, there is no denying that when they are planned and executed together, they are significantly more impactful. In an increasingly crowded digital landscape, we can use publicity to pull the audience in, help them find what they’re looking for with SEO, and nurture them with highly engaging, relevant content.
Are your planning processes and team structure enabling or inhibiting true integration? If you are not setup for best impact, it is time to break down the silos and reap the rewards of a truly unified brand approach.