Laurie Pehar Borsh Digital PR
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Is PR the new SEO?

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PR Pros (especially those who are engrained in new digital media like me) are buzzing about the introduction of Google’s Hummingbird. Earlier this month PR Week contributor Martin Jones’ wrote a fantastic article, PR: The new SEO? that provides further and valuable insight about the potential positive effects the latest and greatest Google algorithm will have on the public relations industry.

Jones: “Google’s new approach is putting more weight on meaningful stories when deciding where different links appear in search results – and that’s a windfall for PR agencies.”

In this short, easy to read, article he explains the three “PR-friendly” assets of Hummingbird:

1. Backlinks from third-parties linking back to company sites
2. Content that is easily searchable through “search-optimized blog posts and knowledgeable contributed articles”
3. Weighted “social shares” on social media

Read >PR: The new SEO?

Jones: “The best part about these changes is that PR is just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing: telling great stories, getting media placements for clients, and building relationships.”

Five Things I Learned About Innovation from Sir Richard Branson

Come out from behind the brand and start operating like Sir Richard Branson…

 if you want to see your business’ social media program succeed.

As you probably know by now (or are just starting to hear), a robust social media and general web presence has become a must-have for professionals who are looking to support the success of their personal as well as their own company’s online marketing and publicity strategy. Professionals (corporate leaders to politicians or artists to small business owners like me) now need to focus on social media thought leadership, public relations and reputation in order to compete for new and future business, career advancement opportunities, and even mainstream media attention.

A 2013 article in Social Media Today (10/15/12) by Sean Royer (CEO of Minneapolis-based Internet Marketing Agency SyneCore Technologies) discusses the latest IBM Study (2012 Global CEO Study) that surveyed some 17,000 CEO’s on the subject of social media usage and engagement.

The study found that only 16% of the CEOs currently participate in social media (I was not surprised to read that!). For many executives, (their own personal) social media public relations effort is one of the least-utilized methods of customer engagement–or for marketing and increasing the visibility of their business brand for that matter. The Study also found that social media will likely become the #2 way to engage customers (57%) within the next five years.

So what’s the bottom line? According to Branson, “Whether you are launching a start-up or leading an established company, you should start establishing your social media presence if you haven’t already.”  Read the article

Over the last 10 years in particular, I have found that most busy professionals (at least 75% of those I meet), simply do not have the know-how, ability and or (mainly) the time to stay on top of the production of personal content, building of network and targeted audiences, engaging and responding to people or monitoring social media activity as it pertains to her own personal or business brand and industry, (etc.)

While internal company brand marketing or public relations managers might be able to take care of (an executive’s) personal social media presence, I have found that most just do not have the bandwidth to do this. And it doesn’t really matter if it’s within a large or small organization. Then there are those professionals who might also be in career transition or those who do participate, but perhaps have not had the success they wish they could have in social media channels.

We all need to remember that social media was built for people to communicate and publicize to other people. Facebook was not built for Pepsi to market to consumers. It was built for individual people to communicate with other people on a mass level. The whole marketing of the “non personal” brand thing came along and everything got very confusing. Read the article!  Richard Branson (among other executives, like Dell and Trump) have gotten it right and got it right from the onset of Social Media. Now it’s time for the rest of the professional leadership world to step in and stop hiding behind the brand–for the good and the growth of the brand. Why wait five years or more. It takes time to build a personal social media following and thought leadership. There is no magic to it, just dedication and work.

I’ve been working with executives for years on personal branding, but mainly on a publicity and promotional level (from job search to business development to press/media placement). Social media has provided us with a new and improved personal publicity channel. However, there is a fine line to walk when it comes to personal social media publicity (promotion) and engagement–as it pertains to the promotion of a professional brand in a leadership role.

Social Media and ROI: What Should You Expect? It depends.

Gaining ground within social media and digital/Web channels has to do with content and thought leadership. The more quality content you can generate, the more you (or your company) will be seen, heard, and followed. Add to this a high “engagement factor” (the amount of responding, sharing, that you and your followers engage in) then you are most likely on your way to a good Return on Investment (“ROI”).

That said, if you were to outright ask me, “What’s my return on investment going to look like?” I would be hard pressed to give you a number. Every client and every situation is different, from the industry or niche you operate in, to your reasons for wanting to engage in social media, to how involved and active you can or want to be.

Many of my clients come to me because they . . .

• Have little experience in social media, other than the occasional Facebook post or like, and simply don’t know where or how to start
• Don’t feel they have the time necessary to dedicate to beefing up their social media and digital presence
• Don’t know what’s reasonable to expect in return for their efforts.

Getting started and making the time are easy to address. Social media (at least how we know it as today) has been around in a big way since 2007. There’s history, there’s precedent, and there are clear do’s and don’ts. As for what’s reasonable to expect for a return on your investment . . . it depends.

With Social Media, ROI doesn’t show up as easily it does with direct marketing or advertising, where there’s a clear target and a beginning, middle, and end to a campaign. Measuring Social Media ROI is more complex, especially when Social Media is done in concert with other, more-traditional marketing efforts.

While I can clearly measure the exposure my clients get through various Social Media and Web channels—such as the number of tweets, LinkedIn shares, or Facebook posts; the number of new followers or connections; or an uptick in likes, Web traffic, and new subscribes—I can’t for certain quantify if Social Media alone is generating more sales. It’s simply impossible for me to link every client’s sale/new client acquisition to what ultimately influenced a customer to buy (unless I do a customer survey, of course, but that’s a whole other topic!). Most likely, there is no one thing that made it happen. Most likely, it’s a combination of various efforts made by my clients, including Social Media.

Social Media can go a long way to getting customers interested and to the “table,” but sealing the deal also relies on your customer/prospect’s emotional connection to your product or service, together with pricing and delivery. Is your product or service what the prospect wants? Is it what the prospect thinks he or she needs? And are you the one to provide it?

Ultimately, TV, Radio, Print, Social Media, the Web, and what you get out of your efforts with each of these mediums, is all about communication and approach. Just as most people wouldn’t produce their own TV or radio spots to sell a product or service, Social Media really should be viewed no differently—especially by busy executives and business owners who are running their companies and don’t have the time, the inclination, or the experience to optimize Social Media as a branding and messaging tool.