With the recent news that Raven Tools has integrated with PR Newswire in order to help marketers distribute content online, we thought we should catch up with Jon Henshaw at Raven Tools and ask a few questions about PR & SEO and why Press Releases have been getting so much bad publicity lately.
Is PR the new SEO, or vice versa?
PR has traditionally been both defensive and offensive. Online reputation management has a lot of similarities with defensive PR, while modern forms of link building are starting to look a lot like offensive PR. You also have content marketing bumping up against traditional PR practices. I think there’s a lot of technique borrowing going on within all of the practices, and traditional labels are starting to become harder to define. There have been some attempts to create and promote new terms like inbound and outbound marketing, but that implies that the two are mutually exclusive, which they’re not. So for the time being, I think PR firms will continue to borrow from SEO, and SEO’s will borrow from PR, and eventually we’ll see which label emerges as the winner – which may be one we haven’t even heard of yet.
What is the main benefit for SEOs to be working with PRs?
SEO’s are making sure their headings and copy are optimized for search engines. They’re also assisting in research and outreach to help spread the content across the Web. Meanwhile, PR’s are helping SEO’s get their head out of their arse 🙂 They’re showing them how to tell a compelling story and how to get journalists to notice them.
Does this mean we finally are getting rid of bad press releases asking for links?
Anyone who would send a message like that either has never asked themselves how they would like to be approached, or doesn’t relate to human beings like the rest of us do. Since that is unlikely to go away, neither will their unfortunate and ineffective approach towards marketing.
How are SEO and PR related? Are they growing more integrated?
That’s been the case for a while now, except I would say that it’s SEO, social and PR that are converging. Raven has had tools for SEO and social media marketing for years now, as well as content marketing tools, because there’s a lot of crossover between those three. SEO is search engine optimization — optimizing content for search engines so people can find your message. Lots of types, lots of factors, lots of techniques. But the idea is that people searching online find your message. Social media marketing is just that — marketing your content by social media. It has other purposes (customer support, advocate nurturing, brand and industry monitoring), but the idea is that people are using social networks find your message. PR is public relations — making sure that the right people are hearing the right message. Like SEO, there are lots of types, lots of factors and lots of techniques. But all with the same goal: people targeted with news release content find your message. In all three cases, you hope that when people find your message, they’ll a) buy what you’re selling and/or b) link to, share or write about your message. So all three types of marketing are related that way. Plus, all three require relationship-building and outreach to succeed long-term.
What role should press releases play in a brand’s overall marketing campaign?
It really depends on whether or not you have something that’s newsworthy. For example, can you tie a product launch or charitable event to your brand? Does your brand have a knowledgeable source who could talk about current news events? Does your brand have relevant industry statistics when news happens about that industry? Has your brand conducted research with some interesting results? If the answer is yes to any of those questions, then that should be newsworthy enough for a press release and should be a part of your brand’s marketing campaign. However, if you’re promoting a new blog post or a product/service that’s not new or special, then you should probably skip it.
PR’s are sometimes known to be ‘old fashioned’. Can they make the switch?
It’s a sink-or-swim moment for PR’s that are tasked with driving exposure to their clients’ sites. They’ll need to adapt to the changing landscape or risk fading away. However, I think in most cases PR’s are adapting. Many are now realizing that links play an important role in press releases, as does the content on the pages those links point to. Also, just like journalists have learned, the words they use in their headings and copy can make a big impact on search and referral traffic.
Why do you think press releases have been getting so much negative publicity SEO community recently?
By nature, SEO’s are lazy and cheap. By lazy, I mean efficient, and by cheap, I mean they don’t like to spend money if they don’t have to. Neither are necessarily bad traits to have, but they do have their consequences. In addition to being lazy and cheap, they also have a habit of finding exploits and wearing them out. In the case of press releases, they were attracted by the links and the availability of cheap press release distributors. Like the old practice of getting links in directories, many SEO’s added the regular submission of press releases to their link building arsenal. The result was very low quality, uninteresting non-news. Basically, junk. They created a constant flood of press release spam that wasn’t useful to journalists or consumers. That’s why Google started to reduce the value of links from these types of releases. Many SEO’s are now blaming press releases for being ineffective, when it’s actually their own poor execution that lessened the value of press releases. The reality is that press releases still work today. As long as the releases are newsworthy, high quality and distributed via a reputable distribution service, they can be quite effective. In fact, it was the reputation and history of PR Newswire that got us to choose them as our integration partner.
Where do people go for more information about your PR Newswire partnership?
A couple of places. Not surprisingly, there’s a press release by PR Newswire with details about the partnership. We also have a more information on Raven’s website that describes the PR Newswire integration in Raven and how it came to be.
You mentioned Content Marketing earlier – What Tools do Raven have to help content marketers?
We have Textbroker integration. We have Scribe by Copyblogger analysis. We have WordPress integration. And now we have PR Newswire distribution. That means content marketers can order content from a freelancer, analyze content for SEO, publish content to WordPress and distribute content to PR Newswire — all from inside Raven. From there, if you step outside the ‘content marketing’ world and go to our SEO and social tools, you can keep track of links you have built and content you are sharing socially. Raven’s CRM helps with the relationship building and outreach needed for those specific techniques.
What are your future plans for your content marketing tools?
We’re planning significant improvements to the overall management of content in Raven. As a start, we want to incorporate Google Analytics and other data to give content marketers more information about their work. We’re also looking to add new author management and performance features. We want our content marketing tools to integrate better with other Raven tools. The goal is to provide the best user experience possible so teams can effortlessly manage, publish and share their content. The ultimate goal is to help those teams report the impact of their content marketing work to clients. http://raventools.com/marketing-tools/content-marketing/
Raven seem to always have something in the pipeline – what are you working on right now?
We’re launching one of the most significant improvements to Raven in just a few weeks. The update will look dramatic, but really it simplifies and streamlines everything… On top of that, we’re adding an often requested report to Raven that is going to make SEO’s salivate 🙂 If you want to know more go to http://raventools.com/simple