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Why PR should be talking to SEO


If you work in PR and you’ve never struck up a conversation with your search engine optimization team, there has never been a better time to get to know them. 

In the past year, you may have started to see a lot more posts being published on the growing importance of content marketing and reputation management. PR is evolving, with PR and digital teams facing a greater challenge in working together ever more closely. 

PR is moving away from operating in isolation from the digital team to becoming an integrated function that aligns closely with brand, content, social media, and SEO efforts.

The simple truth is that each and every piece of content that you share and communicate is going to play a greater role in affecting how people in your online audience find and engage with your brand.

With over 6 billion searches recorded daily on Google (according to Comscore’s rankings), it is very likely that in-house SEO teams are becoming more aware of the importance of creating strategies focused on content and its placement. 

The relationship between SEO and PR teams should work both ways for maximum success. Here’s why:

The impact of good news on search results

PR has been contributing to search engine optimization for a long time. Creating positive brand mentions on media publications ultimately influences what consumers see when they Google that brand name. 

The more glowing the results, the more likely they are to trust that brand and purchase from it. Negative stories are pushed further down the search results, and all those positive mentions from influential websites are what SEO professionals dream about. It sends just the right signals to Google to get that brand ranking for its name and related search terms. 

In the absence of a viable alternative to reporting on Advertising Value Equivalent rates (what newspaper column inches would cost if you paid for that space), SEO is the answer PR pros have been looking for. Suddenly you are privy to a world where PR results can directly affect positive search results, rankings, website traffic, and ultimately sales. No longer will you just report on how many pieces of coverage you’ve secured, you can now answer your execs when they ask the inevitable, “But what’s this really worth to the business?”

How to measure PR activity

An SEO-led PR approach provides a multitude of factors to help measure PR’s impact. Your individual business objectives remain paramount, but try using these elements to give depth to your reporting. They will help you objective evaluate your approach: 

  • Rankings—brand name, long-tail search terms. How have these moved?

    Site traffic—has there been an increase in unique visitors?

    Inbound links—are there clickable links back to relevant content on your website?

    Average time on site—the longer people spend on a site, the more engaging and relevant to your audience the content is. This is also a significant part of Google’s algorithm.

    Social media referrals—how many people have reached your site through social media? 

    Social media mentions—how many uses of a hashtag or your brand name have there been?

    Audience reach—how many people could have seen your message?

    Inquiries/sales—the bottom line, are you making more money following your campaign?

    Domain authority of coverage—the higher the number, the more authoritative the website.

    Page authority of any resource on site you are linking to—has it increased?

    Brand mentions—how many times is the brand referred to?

You may find from using this in-depth reporting that a PR tactic you’ve been using for years just isn’t having the impact on the business that you’d sought. That’s the beauty of an SEO-led approach: It will quickly teach you what works for your audience and exactly what elements customers are ignoring. 

If a comment piece in the Daily Telegraph brings an increase in traffic or social mentions, then you should be media-training your spokespeople and getting their profiles raised, as that’s clearly what works for your business. 

If you’ve placed your luxury product with a luxury price tag on the shopping pages of a tabloid, sales and website visitor figures may show that coverage made no impact. Even though traditionally you could report that you reached over 2 million people and it was worth $15,000 in AVE. A re-evaluation of where your time is best spent may be necessary. 

Having a target amount of pieces of coverage isn’t sustainable for either PR agencies or clients. Eventually the previous high-water mark can’t be surpassed, and the client is left wondering why they are paying a lot of money for no visible return on their investment. 

Next steps

To make this approach work, it’s vital to open up communication channels between internal teams. It is evident from various industry events and conferences that we have attended in the last 12 months, this issue exists across a diverse range of businesses, with stakeholders that have responsibility for brand, content, PR, social media, and digital not aligning their approach to achieve the maximum impact. 

These teams need to work closer together in sharing their ideas and strategy deployment. Working as a single team is exceedingly more effective.

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