Many businesses mistakenly believe that public relations (PR) and search engine optimization (SEO) are two separate business strategies, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
No matter how big or small your business is, when it comes to brand building and ranking higher on Google, nothing will help you do that better than combining your PR and SEO efforts. The sooner you realize that, the further ahead you’ll be in the business game.
Now, for the million dollar question: Why is PR important to implement into your overall business strategy? You’ll be killing multiple birds with one stone.
Not only will it help promote your business and establish a positive reputation amongst your target consumers, but it will also give you strong backlinks which will effectively help boost your SEO efforts and rank higher on Google. In the best case scenario, you’ll be right at the top of the results page for some of the most competitive keyword searches.
So, how can you leverage PR to help boost your SEO? Before we answer that, let’s define what PR is and how it can level up your business.
What is PR?
In simple terms, “public relations” is the practice of generating positive publicity or buzz around your product, business or brand. That publicity can be generated through traditional means like being featured in a newspaper or magazine or through modern ones, like a shoutout on social media by a prominent influencer or media outlet.
Now, you might be asking yourself — what’s the difference between PR and marketing? Aren’t they the same thing?
While the two have a lot of things in common, they’re very different. The means in which you earn that publicity or promotion for PR is very different than how you would for marketing.
With marketing and advertising, you pay for placements — whether it’s that banner ad on the bus or online ad, you pay to be seen appear where you want to appear.
PR works the opposite way as all the placements you earn are through unpaid means. This is done by persuading external audiences (media outlets) that your product or business is worth a placement (i.e. shoutout in an article, front page story, product review, etc…). This can be done through a variety of ways including targeted pitching, timely press releases and more. Because PR placements are earned and don’t look like ads, they’re usually perceived to be more credible and authentic to the audience (and Google!), which ultimately elevates your business efforts.
How Can PR Boost Your SEO?
Now that we know what PR is, it’s time to talk about how it can help your SEO strategy. You’ll realize very quickly that PR and SEO make the ultimate dynamic duo.
Strong backlinks are key to ranking higher and appearing on the first page of the search engine. The key to helping you get there is through quality backlinks, which can be hard to get sometimes. This is where PR comes in.
Nothing compares to getting a backlink from an authoritative source like a news organization. If you can get a mention in a newspaper, product review on an online publication, or interview segment on T.V. or radio, these are all gold stars in the eyes of Google.
No matter what sort of coverage you’re able to get, news organizations will link back to your site which will effectively boost your SEO rankings and boot your competitors lower on the page.
Increased Brand Recognition
Having a recognizable brand is important for any business. Not only is getting featured in media a great way to build awareness, but it establishes you as a trusted brand within your field, something Google values. This is especially true for smaller businesses or businesses working within in a highly competitive market.
If you’re working within a competitive market, chances are you’re also trying to beat the competition and outrank on certain keyword phrases. No matter how much content you produce and how much you optimize it, you might find yourself at a stand still. But if you implement a PR strategy and consistently find ways to get mentioned or featured by media, the better the chances you have at weeding out the competition and giving your rank a boost, all thanks to that increased brand awareness.
Brand recognition can come from a variety of different sources including news websites, blogs, online magazines, social media shoutouts and more. If Google sees that you’re getting featured on a lot of trusted sources, chances are they’re going to consider you as a trusted brand too and rank you higher for searches you want.
Now this all sounds great right? Easy peasy, lemon squeezy?
Not exactly. Truth is, if it were easy, then every business would have a PR strategy in place but that’s simply not the case.
Thankfully there are ways to help you get a head start. Whether you’re doing it solo or plan on hiring an agency for assistance, read on to find out some effective ways to get PR for your business.
How To Get PR For Your Business
Be A Contributor Or Guest Writer
A great way to get your name out there is by becoming a contributor or guest writer on an outlet that reaches out to your target consumer.
So let’s say you’re a mobile make-up artist looking to get more clients. You might want to consider pitching outlets that cover skin and beauty because those are the type of readers that might also be interested in make-up services. You could write anything from seasonal make-up trends, the best beauty products for sensitive skin or any topical subjects around make-up and beauty. Not only will this be a great way to help build backlinks to your site, but the more you do it, the more you establish yourself as an expert in your field, helping build trust amongst your target consumers.
Give A Little, Get A Lot
This is a great tactic for those who have product they’re trying to sell. Offer your product or services to a media member to test and try out in exchange for a review. This tactic is especially useful for business owners who own restaurants — they can gift a media member with a great dinner out at their establishment in exchange for a write-up on that publication.
Before you do this however, be sure you’re ready to impress! While it’s a great way to get that coverage, you also run the risk of a negative review. That’s why it’s crucial to only take this route when you’re ready. Once you are, also make sure you gift the right media member this experience or product knowing they’re likely to enjoy it the most.
Send Out A Press Release
If you have a big announcement to make, sending out a press release is a great way to spread the news to as many media outlets as possible. Once it’s written out, it can be distributed for a fee through a distribution site of your choice. This will help guarantee that your story lands inside the inboxes of media members that you want, and increase your chances of getting coverage. Before proceeding with a distribution company, be sure to double check the quality of the outlets they distribute to and whether or not they’re reputable sources.
If you’re working with an agency, many will release your press release using their own mailing lists that they’ve curated specifically for your campaign, targeting media that would benefit most from hearing your announcement. If you’re paying for an agency already, this option is often cheaper as press release distribution is usually included in your deliverables.
Things To Remember When Pursuing PR
Now that you know what PR is and some effective ways on how to garner it for your business, let’s talk about how you can guarantee success with your PR efforts. Here are some key things to remember:
Know Your Target
The common misconception about PR is that it has the ability to make you famous or go viral overnight. If you expect to make the front page of the newspaper or expect to appear on a national news broadcast, you need to lower your expectations. While those placements are certainly possible and something to strive for, the road to getting there will take time.
Before launching any campaigns, figure out who your target audience is and figure out where they like to consume information (i.e. TV, print, radio or online).
For example, let’s say you own a restaurant. You probably want to target other foodies in your city so they’ll be inclined to check out your establishment. Now you want to think about which publications your target consumer gets their information from. In this case, it’s probably local food blogs and other print and online food publications. Once you’ve honed in on that, research publications in that niche and figure out which writers are talking about restaurants like yours. These are the people you want to target first when sending out press releases or pitches. Once you understand your demo, the better equipped you or PR team will be to get you featured on outlets your demo likes to read.
Knowing your target audience is important because before you establish yourself in larger audiences, you want to establish yourself with the audiences that matter the most and are closest to you. The more you establish yourself with your own community, the easier it will be to land that front page piece down the road.
Know What Makes You Different
This is crucial. If you don’t know what makes you stand out from the crowd, you can easily get lost within it. Journalists are bombarded with dozens if not hundreds of press releases and pitches a week. That’s why it’s crucial that whenever you contact them, you lead with your differentiating factors. If you don’t know what those are, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you offer a unique service? Are the first to bring it to market? Are you the first to bring it to market in your area?
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you enforce company values in a unique way?
- What’s the story behind the business? How did it get started?
- Have you been featured in media in the past? Have you ever been endorsed by a major public figure?
Once you know what your differentiating factors are, you can build key messaging around it and use them as key points to persuade media to feature you.
Let’s say you got featured in one of your favourite fashion magazines, or got an extremely positive restaurant review from a highly respectable restaurant critic — your job doesn’t end there! PR is all about leveraging relationships, and as soon as you develop one with any media member, be sure to maintain it! Invite them to any upcoming events or new openings you may have, mail them your newest products to try out, and keep them in mind for any future exclusives you can offer.
Why is this important?
You’ll continue to be top-of-mind for this media member who may be able to incorporate you into other stories down the road. If you have any major announcements coming up, if you’ve maintained a solid relationship with media members, they’re more likely to feature your business again in some capacity, which will further boost your SEO efforts.
One time hits are great and an awesome confidence boost for you and your business, but the best PR is about maintaining longevity and the key to that is maintaining relationships.
Patience Is Key
The toughest thing about PR is that it takes time to build and depending on the type of product or business you’re trying to promote, it can take weeks if not months before seeing the fruits of your labour.
Building from the ground up can be slow, but once you get rolling the rest just falls into place. Even when the going gets tough, just remember to keep toughing it out — sometimes all it takes is one media hit to generate a domino effect. Once that happens, not only will it help your overall SEO game, it will take it to the next level.