Traditional PR provides a critical foundation for SEM PR
By Kent Lewis
I started my career in public relations (PR) in 1994, when email and the Web were new to most businesses. I had many adventures in those early days trying to email documents to editors and access painfully slow Web sites. Back then, nobody was really thinking about the possibility of truly leveraging the Internet to enhance PR efforts. Fast forward to today: while technology, bandwidth and behavior have advanced, a majority of PR professionals have not kept up with the times.
For the SEM professionals not well versed in public relations strategies and tactics, I’ll provide just a little background to get you up-to-speed. PR is the art and science of persuasion. Fundamentals include development of press releases and direct communication with influencers (i.e. press, analysts and of course the public). To automate communications, many PR professionals develop and maintain News Rooms, which contain press releases, articles, fact sheets and related company information.
For PR professionals not as familiar with the art and science of search engine marketing(SEM), fundamentals include search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) and link development. For more information, please check out our SEM FAQ and SEM glossary. Bottom line, SEM offers companies a cost-effective and highly measurable way to generate awareness, leads and sales. With the essential background out of the way, let’s take a trip back to 1998.
After transitioning from a brief career in high tech PR and Web development, I moved over to a full-service agency as the “online PR consultant.” I quickly became bored with the ill-defined and misunderstood role and received approval and support to build a team of online marketers within the then traditional agency. At that time, SEO was just starting to gain traction, and PPC was virtually nonexistent. As such, my team spent a majority of it’s time optimizing client sites, developing relationships with online press and coordinating efforts with traditional PR professionals within the agency.
As early SEM professionals (we called ourselves Internet, online or Web marketers back then), we got little-to-no respect from traditional PR and marketing professionals. When I moved over to a new startup agency in 1999, I challenged our growing PR team to take on the evolving online PR responsibilities my team had previously provided. Needless to say it didn’t go over very well, so I had to take that responsibility back on in 2002, when I decided to dedicate myself to building Anvil full-time. Since then, SEO PR has evolved as a catchphrase and PPC has created a juggernaut out of Google. But what of this newfangled phrase, SEM PR?
SEM PR is a holistic view of applying a variety of SEM and PR strategies and tactics to create and control messages to key stakeholders (i.e. customers, employees, investors and partners). The foundation of any good SEM PR campaign is SEO. For more information, visit two helpful articles: The 3Cs of SEO and SEO PR. The second, and lesser-utilized component is paid search. The 4 Es of PPC offers helpful background into setting up and managing a paid search campaign, which can also be a powerful component of any SEM PR program.
The final SEM PR component leverages SEO to mitigate negative search results in target search phrases. Online reputation management incorporates advanced SEO and PPC techniques to push undesirable results out of the top ten. ORM – The New PR offers a helpful overview of this evolving discipline. Anvil builds on these fundamentals to proactively boost visibility while mitigating the possibility of negative listings in target searches. The difference between reactive ORM strategies and proactive SEM PR activities can make or break a company.
In part two, I will take you through the SEM PR process.