A letter from a Concerned PR Professional

Dear SEO Company,

Having asked what SEO looks like in post penguin and panda world, I am afraid. Very afraid. Because it looks like PR (public relations).

As a freelance PR person, of course, new entrants to the market bring prices down, and for the inexperienced PR purchaser, having an SEO person do your PR at the same time as your SEO seems like a great idea. So there’s the selfish bit out on the table.

But years of experience have gone into making me a good PR, and my bigger fears are for PR in the hands of the inexperienced.

Fear one: for the client

PR needs proper consideration of reputation.

Many a PR will have the scars from where companies have given the PR job to the MD’s PA or marketing assistant. It’s an uphill battle, because there’s a lot goes into cooking up a great PR person.

Most SEO people will be familiar with the concept of the press release.  Many will be able to craft one – there’s enough information out there to help. But all too often I’ve seen (and even fallen victim to) press releases that have gone out unapproved.

The direst consequences of this could be a stock market de-listing or a stock price denting bloody nose from the SEC (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission). The more likely consequences are a missed opportunity. Sticking a release on a press release site because it gives you a nice little link from a good site is all well and good, but if the release goes to the right places you might get more links.

And, frankly, why do you think you’re doing SEO? The answer isn’t, as you might think, to be top of the SERPs. It’s the reason why people want to be in the number one slot. (Still not got it? Follow the money….) If you’re paying for the time and distribution costs, why not make the release something that will have the single most valuable ‘conversion goal’ and push people closer to the sale.

A good PR person will have a good grounding in the legal, reputational and wider marketing issues than the transactional link builder.

Fear two: pity the poor journalist

PR’s have a carefully balanced relationship with journalists and genuine blog properties. It’s based, at its most productive, in mutual need and respect.

Suddenly having the entire SEO industry turn its sights on higher quality media sites must have them quaking.

Trust me, some journalists can barely tolerate PR people. If the number of calls and amount of spam rises exponentially, SEO could not only eat itself, but PR in the process.  Things have long overdue for an overhaul, granted, but viewing media sites as simply high value link generating opportunities devalues them, their purpose, and loftier ideals such as a free press.

So can you do my job?

I’d say that depends on what kind of SEO you’re doing. If you are the kind of SEO who codes and hates picking up the phone, probably not. If you’re already undertaking blogger outreach, you probably can.

But please, don’t do it without understanding what you’re doing. You’ll just make life miserable for yourselves. For journalists. And for me!

Yours sincerely

Worried from Reading

About Claire Thompson

Claire Thompson has has 15 years PR experience and runs Waves PR, which she founded. She has great taste in wine and lousy taste in music. The two are not unconnected!