PR and SEO are and will forever remain connected.
While there are more and more ranking factors that Google continues to apply to organic search rankings, backlinks still remain one of the most fundamental aspects of SEO. And not only are backlinks still vital (they have been around for a long time), getting the “right kind” of backlink has become harder than ever. Why? Because you have to reach for backlinks from high authority sites and sites within your niche.
These are backlinks that need to be “editorially placed” — which means specific links were placed in specific content because they offered value to the reader. This is earning rather than simply winning a backlink, and you have to work hard to earn media, as most public relations professionals attest to! To that end backlinks on high authority, websites are, in my opinion, SEO GOLD for public relations professionals and the companies they represent.
Content is King and so are Backlinks from High Authority Websites.
It’s all about the art of PR! After all, it is the job of PR to win or EARN media coverage and that includes digital publications. We finally are attributing digital media publication placement as earned media! It’s about time! So when you win a piece of earned media, the article (via the editor’s placement) will usually include a backlink to your site. These are your most valuable backlinks because they’re editorially placed and in high authority or industry niche publication websites. Remember, “Content is King” as they say.
In this post “rank brain” world, Google places more emphasis on the quality of content than ever before. Let’s say you only invest in creating a few core pages on your website, such as your homepage and a couple of product pages, then you earn some high authority backlinks, you could be successful in ranking for a few broad keyword terms. However, if you want to rank for as many keywords as possible, to onboard organic traffic at all stages of the purchase funnel, then you have to invest in even more content. Meanwhile, public relations can continue pumping out quality content in order to win earned digital media placement. This means you can actually be way more efficient and get way more value out of combining your PR and SEO content efforts!
The Importance of a Digital Footprint.
A digital footprint is what a user finds, on the first page of Google, when they enter your brand name. This is really important because it’s the first impression you make with the vast majority of people who engage with your brand! You obviously always want your website to be in the top spot, and your social profiles should also occupy some of the results. But to really make a good impression, the average user is going to want to see more than a nice website and your Twitter or LinkedIn accounts. For maximum credibility, users also need to find mentions of your brand in high authority websites, such as publications or review sites. This can propel you from an unknown entity into a credible business. This is what PR delivers!
While your digital footprint isn’t always quite the same thing as the SEO of your own websites, it’s all linked! The more earned media you win, the more backlinks you win, and the more our website ranking improves. Furthermore, the more articles mentioning your brand online, the more users can find when searching for you and this equates the exceptional personal or business brand visibility and credibility
How can law firms use social media to attract more clients and further their public reputations? As a digital publicity and online reputation management specialist working with executives on social media, my first response to that is to put more managing partners on social media and optimize their personal brands for the good of the firm.
In today’s new media world, leaders – including law firm managing partners – have the added responsibility to be the face of their organizations on social media just as they are expected to represent the company offline. However, buy-in for this notion has been slow.
According to Business Insider, celebrities and influencers aren’t the only ones using social media to bolster their career.
Chief executive officers — in between managing some of the world’s largest corporations — are using Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn more than ever to build an online following. The business advisory company Brunswick analyzed the social media profiles of 790 CEOs of S&P 500 and FTSE 350 companies to find the ones who cultivate the best audiences online.
Having a good social media presence leads to more trust among employees and shareholders. Around 65% of US employees say it’s important for CEOs to actively communicate about their companies online, particularly during times of crisis, the report found.
All of the above holds true for law firm leadership.
Act as a Spokesperson
Traditionally, marketing and public relations executives (in most industries) have been responsible for advocating and communicating the message about a company and its benefits to the public, while corporate leadership has been charged with “shaping the market” as a thought leader. And, up until now, the outlet for thought leadership has been traditional media, i.e., print, radio, and television.
To that end there are various executives who have been bucking this stereotype of the silent leader for a long time now, including Richard Branson of Virgin; Doug Conant of Avon and the former Campbell Soup CEO; Peter Aceto, the former CEO of ING Direct, now with Tangerine; and Bill Gates former CEO of Microsoft. Perhaps they are more inclined to be visible online because they are known to the public as the founders of their organizations and products, or, in some cases, they were naturally drawn to social/digital media from the get-go.
It’s only natural that a law firm managing partner who is not overly personable by nature will be less open and approachable on social media. He or she may be an exceptional leader, but may not be as vocal about his or her passion for the legal industry, and that’s OK. Not everyone can act in the same bold way on social media as the likes of Sir Richard Branson. However, managing partners are leaders, and therefore they need to do more than manage the direction of the firm. They also need to manage the law firm’s image by acting as its spokesperson, setting the tone for the firm, including the development of a viable digital persona across social media.
Get Social Media Support
Of course, a managing partner is accountable for the law firm’s brand in terms of whatever they say and do online and off. Their opinions can be taken out of context on social media, as information can be amplified, instantaneously transmitted and easily misinterpreted.
This is why it can be a prudent measure to put someone in place to manage your law firm social media, or at least edit and consult managing partners on the use of social media, to assuage any fears. This can be the job of the firm’s PR/marketing agency, the in-house marketing department or someone who is dedicated to supporting firm management.
In the digital age, law firm management shouldn’t be asking whether social media is right for them. The question is how they will use social media to enhance not just their own images, but the overall brand of the firm.
Social media helps public relations professionals fulfill a more nuanced role to help with relationship management, identify brand reputation threats, and engage influencers as well as journalists.
Back in the day, public relations professionals would give a statement on air, release it in print, or publish it online. Social media has disrupted the field, making public relations a faster-paced and more delicate matter.
We need only look to our Commander in Chief to know that a social platform like Twitter can now serve as the primary channel for a business, brand or celebrity to release official information about itself. The lesson here is clear. Businesses that fail to use social media to manage their reputations may not only lose reach in the digital world, but may not even be noticed amid all the noise. For PR purposes, few modern mediums pack the same punch as social media. Here’s how professionals are now using social platforms as their primary option for managing information about a client or company.
The Evolution of Public Relations
Before digitalization, public relations professionals primarily engaged with the public after a major change. They announced new offerings, minimized reputation damage, and reacted to industry changes as the face of the organization. With the blossoming of social media, that’s evolved. Now, many public relations professionals play a much more nuanced role. They may proactively engage in reputation management activities, counsel leadership, and identify potential problems in a business’s relationship with the public.
Social media eliminates the walls between members of the public and a brand, shortens the time a company has to react to relevant stories, and blurs the line between marketing and public relations. Often, public relations’ and marketing professionals’ roles overlap on social media.
Crafting and maintaining a positive public appearance requires a balance of engaging content and a careful awareness and reaction to public opinions. For brand reasoning, explanations, and crisis response, modern public relations professionals may look to social media as the first line of defense in an increasingly connected world.
How Public Relations Professionals Use Social Media
Social media can help public relations professionals meet their goals or it can hinder the reputation management process, depending on the situation. Some of the most common ways public relations teams use social media include:
- To find influencers – Influencers give brands a voice they could never use on their own. Social media influencers have massive digital followings that brands can tap into to promote offerings and protect reputations. When public relations professionals create relationships between brands and influencers, they’re really adding another line of both promotion and defense the brand can use to its advantage.
- To identify brand threats – Social listening gives professionals the power to understand the public’s opinion before it turns into a trending topic. They can proactively find and address online threats and possibly prevent a major brand reputation crisis. To think like a public relations expert, consider using one of the dozens of social listening tools out there to understand what social media users really think.
- To influence journalist’s stories – The public can actually see PR professionals on social media when they address a crisis, but many work behind the scenes to shape a brand’s image. When a trending topic arises, journalists often put their ear to social media to see what people are saying. Public relations professionals will often join that online discussion in order to influence journalists to present a certain angle. PR pros may not always end up seeing the published story they’d like, but they can still use social media as a tool to keep their angle in the public eye.
- To swiftly react to negative press – Social media is one of the first places people look for a brand’s reaction to a negative claim. Public relations professionals may use a company account to craft and publish an immediate response and to direct the public to another medium for more information. Social media gives public relations professionals immediate access to a large, attentive audience.
- To make announcements – Word travels fast on Twitter, so public relations professionals often use the platform to announce awards, product launches, and company updates. With captivating short snippets and links, professionals can reach a much wider audience via social media than traditional forums.
Social media is a natural fit for public relations and one of many tools businesses can use to protect and promote their reputations. When public relations and marketing teams combine their efforts on social media, brands often enjoy immediate positive results.
Businesses Can Use Social Media to Manage Public Opinion!
Regardless of professional public relations support, all businesses can use their social media accounts to help manage public opinion. Don’t wait for others to create stories about your brand. Create interest with some public relations influencing tactics. Create flattering and engaging stories about your brand, react to other large stories, and react publicly to negative comments. Think like a public relations expert and create content like a marketer on social media to boost your reputation and earn new followers.
As of April 2015, CEO participation on social media is still low. That said it is becoming increasingly more important and more common for CEOs to step out from behind the desk and into the digital spotlights of social media.
I have been writing and preaching about this for years now! As the graphic shows below, a “social CEO” (aka a Cheif Executive Officer who uses social media to benefit and for the overall “good” of his or her organization!) is still rare.
The good news is there are at least a few leaders out there demonstrating what it looks like and how social media can benefit their personal and professional brands. Keep in mind that Laurie Pehar Borsh PR specializes in the production and management of CEOS and other high-level, high-profile executives on social media.
No! A busy executive should not go at this alone (that could be the issue).
The PESO model will help all your media channels act as a single unit and work to strengthen each other.
PESO is a media model strategy that stands for Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned media. Long ago media channels used to be thought of in siloed ways:
- Paid media was the primary focus of advertising and marketing.
- Earned media was the primary focus of PR.
- Shared and owned media was the primary focus of –none of the above.
Today, PESO is known as a media model strategy that stands for Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned media. Marketer Rebecca Lieb calls this “the converged media imperative.” In a 2012 report, she writes:
“Agencies are often specialized and don’t feel their counterparts in other focus areas are competent in integration. Digital agencies claim social agencies lack larger brand perspective, while social agencies say media buyers ignore long-term engagement. In any case, not integrating, agencies are missing opportunities.”
The history of the PESO model
Though this idea of converging media was not new at the time, Gini Dietrich’s 2014 book Spin Sucks, coined the term PESO to include shared media (and, you know, because “PESO” is catchy). In this book, Gini established a solid framework for implementing and embracing this model that has become widespread in the industry. This diagram gives a high-level look at how each channel works on its own, and with each other.
Though PESO is all about practicing a holistic marketing model, this doesn’t mean that every professional needs to be an expert in ALL areas. We still need copywriters, SEO gurus, paid media specialists, social media mavens, etc., to strengthen each PESO component.
The key is getting buy-in with your company or agency to ensure that no content is created without the proper PESO treatment.
This guide will cover the basics of the PESO model to help all your media channels act as a single unit and work to strengthen each other.
Though paid media comes first in PESO, owned media comes first in the process (Gini Dietrich acknowledges that OESP isn’t a good term to brand this model).
What is owned media?
This is exactly what it mean, “the content your business owns.” Owned media is created specifically for your brand and published to your website or other owned channels. Blogs, news pages, eBooks, white papers and podcasts are considered owned media assets.
These assets serve as the foundation to make all of your paid, earned and shared channels work. You can’t launch a campaign without telling a story or sharing a message.
It’s estimated by Gartner that by 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of their relationship with a company without ever talking to a human. The way that most of your customers will first communicate with you is through your business’s owned media (even copy and creative assets in a paid ad are considered owned media), making it the most critical component of this model.
Aside from the cost of resources to create content, owned media is free. But depending on your organization’s goals and team size, content creation could be a budget buster. To build a library of owned content, investigate options such as hiring internally, recruiting freelancers, or working with an agency. Or develop a combination of the three.
Then, document a content strategy, which will help you understand your brand’s audience personas, the keywords to target, what topics and types of content to create, the platforms where you’ll publish content and how to measure performance.
Once a trusty and productive team is in place and there’s more content in the queue, you’ll be able to determine how content will be used in the rest of your channels.
There’s no doubt that we love to create acronyms and memorable terms in this industry. This is probably why shared media was added, so we could say “PESO” instead of “PEO.” Regardless, shared media is a crucial addition and a component that hardly existed for brands a decade ago.
Shared media could be considered a sector of owned media because you own the content that is published to your social media platforms. However, each social platform has its own quirks and characteristics that require different content and campaigns.
Understanding these nuances of the platforms and what segments of your audience are on each will help dictate the owned media you create.
Once you share something to your social media channels, what happens next is out of your hands. The engagements, comments and shares your content receives is up to your audience. It’s online word-of-mouth, so you lose the ability to control exactly who is sharing your content, what they’re saying about it and where it’s happening.
The slightest mistake can turn into a viral post that could be damaging to your brand. Don’t make the mistake of posting a tweet that misuses a trending hashtag! This will prove that you probably didn’t do your research before clicking the “publish” button.
But when a social media campaign is well-received, the results can be rewarding. When it comes to shared media, the social posts you craft are just part of the equation. In many cases, owned, earned AND paid media can all turn into shared media if people find the content worth talking about and sharing with others. It’s a powerful way to spread awareness of your brand, gain new followers and even generate new customers.
Traditionally, earned media is a PR pitch sent to a journalist who may include the brand in a featured story or mention it in an article in some way, whether it’s a print or online publication. In this sense, earned media is all about relationship building.
New definition of earned media
Today, PR and marketing pros aren’t just pitching journalists; they’re pitching blogger and social media influencers with large followings who trust the influencer’s recommendations.
In addition, they’re sending pitches to editors and webmasters of relevant websites inquiring about including a backlink to a piece of owned content or to contribute a guest post (which usually includes a link or two back to the brand’s website).
This enhances the authority and credibility of your business to audiences — and to Google, which rewards backlinks by boosting the rank of content in SERPs.
In this sense, search engine optimization is an earned media play. Though there are more than 200 factors that Google assesses to rank content, securing quality backlinks from websites with a high domain authority that are trusted by the public is a critical factor to boost rankings.
The challenge of earned media
Whether it’s securing coverage in a print magazine, a blog, or on an influencer’s Instagram page, it’s tougher than ever for your pitch to stand out. Fifty-seven percent of top-tier publishers receive between 50 and 500 pitches each week while 53 percent of journalists report that they rarely or never read pitches. This data doesn’t include editors and webmasters at other organizations who receive pitches to write a guest post or to include a backlink.
It takes more time and energy to secure earned media. It’s why PR and marketing professionals are supplementing their outreach strategy with paid media solutions.
Paid media has quickly become your best strategy for better targeting and control of who is seeing your content. It’s how you’ll get your owned content seen among the saturated online landscape — put it right in front of their faces.
Typically centered on pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns on Google or a local newspaper website, paid media tactics now rely largely on native advertising. Native ads are media placements that fit the form and function of the surrounding editorial content on a webpage. It should look “native” to the page.
The ad links to sponsored, owned or earned media — really, anything your brand wants people to read. Here are examples of three popular native advertising types, and the pros and cons of each:
- Content Syndication Using Discovery Platforms
Content discovery platforms such as Outbrain, Taboola and StackAdapt are a common native advertising format. They highlight thumbnails, headlines and links to content at the bottom of an article. It looks to be part of a “read more” section of a website with the main goal of driving high traffic at a low cost.
- Social Media Promotion
Promoted posts on social media look just like all the other posts in your feed — they fit the look and feel of the platform and use language such as “Sponsored” (Facebook) or “Promoted” (LinkedIn) to designate it as a paid post. With refined targeting options (especially on Facebook), you’re more likely to reach the people that would actually convert after engaging with your content.
It’s also a great tool for A/B testing content. Before promoting a post, see which ones perform well organically first. There’s also no fixed pricing so you can promote sponsored posts as your budget allows. Take into consideration that you may still reap earned benefits of a paid post even after the end of its lifespan. If users shared the post in their own feeds, it could still receive views and engagement.
- Sponsored Content
Sponsored content is also considered a type of native advertising because it fits the form and function of its host, but it’s not an ad. It’s a longer-form piece of brand-sponsored content such as an article or video that lives on a media publisher’s site. According to this Moz blog post, “Brands value this because association with a publication and exposure to its audience can drive awareness, traffic, conversions and leads.”
The content is not about the brand, but rather a related topic. If you’re selling eco-friendly napkins, your article won’t be about how your company was founded. Rather, it’ll list five tips for going green while eating out. Your article will only have one or two brand mentions throughout.
Sponsored content is less in-your-face. Because it looks and reads just like the other articles on the hosted website and provides valuable information, readers will feel more inclined to engage with it. This forms a more favorable view of your brand.
- The Modern MAT Release
Before the term “sponsored content” became so buzzy, PR pros used the MAT release to garner media coverage in publications across the country.
MAT releases are still a tried-and-true content distribution method, used mainly to increase brand awareness. Unlike paying one fee to host content on a publisher’s website, you pay for a MAT release to be distributed through a vendor (like PRWeb), and the article is then placed within the publications in that vendor’s content distribution network.
Editors can also choose content from brands to fill space when needed, which turns the MAT release into an earned media property as well. To further capitalize on this placement, you can share a published MAT release with your social media followers.
Making it all come together
All four media strategies work together. But it all comes down to creating owned content that is useful to your audience. This content could power a paid media campaign, which could lead to earned media benefits through social sharing and other online conversations.
Ranking first on a Google search engine results page (SERP) is considered an honorable achievement—but it’s not the only goal that matters.
If you don’t rank first, there’s a lot you can do to improve your organic search results.
Here are four search engine optimization trends to embrace:
1. Combat ad blockers by optimizing organic search rankings.
“Ranking without links is really really hard. Not impossible, but very hard.”
— Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, October 2016
Research shows that 30 percent of all internet users will employ ad blockers by 2018. Although nearly every page you view, app you download, link you click or product you buy is tracked, you can block cookies (tracking), use anti-spam software, skip ads and customize social media feeds.
To optimize organic search rankings:
- Integrate a multichannel SEO strategy.
- Perform keyword research and target strong keywords that are relevant to each channel.
- Optimize content for searcher intent.
- Incorporate brand keywords.
- Provide high-quality content and keyword-rich links.
- Track and analyze your data.
- Engage your audience on social media.
- Optimize your website with a responsive web design to be mobile-friendly.
2. Build trust and avoid spam.
Social media platforms and search engines will continue to introduce new rules to prevent the spread of fake news, ensure data security and provide relevant information.
This year, Twitter updated its policies by introducing new anti-spam rules. Twitter now prohibits identical content—like the duplicate tweets many businesses posted regularly on multiple Twitter handles. Follow Twitter’s new rules or else you risk getting some (or all) of your accounts shut down.
This is nothing new to marketers who are familiar with Google’s algorithm updates. For example, in 2011 Google began penalizing duplicate content in order to punish low-quality “content farms.” “Content farms” are web pages stuffed full of low-quality content from other sites to drive ranking on search engine results pages.
Google’s aim is to provide searchers what they want, which is high-quality, relevant and valuable content.
To build trust online:
- Create well-written, authoritative content. Don’t be misleading.
- Promote brand awareness and value by telling your company’s authentic story.
- Ensure that your audience’s expectations on your content meet reality.
- Send press releases consistently as an organic approach to telling your company’s story, building trust and engaging your audience.
3. Take advantage of mobile technology and “internet of things.”
According to Doantam Phan, a product manager for Google, Google’s “algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in (their) results.” For this reason, you need to ensure that you consider mobile web browsers when looking at SEO.
“Internet of things” (IoT) will also advance this year. As consumers begin using their network of internet-enabled devices in their cars and home appliances, like virtual assistants Siri and Amazon Alexa, you need to ensure your content is accessible on various devices. Content marketing for tablets, laptops, smartphones and watches requires similar SEO best practices for desktop and mobile.
To increase organic reach for mobile and IoT:
- Build links.
- Lead with the most important information.
- Incorporate multimedia like photo, video or audio in your content to boost engagement.
- Add strong keywords in metadata descriptions.
- Use a mobile-friendly test.
- Write conversational content that’s shareable and compatible on various devices.
- Use campaign tracking links to analyze engagement and click-throughs.
4. Keep up with the latest updates.
Google and other search engines continue to favor quality over quantity, regardless of whether the search is conducted via desktop or voice assistant. Voice-activated search is fast and convenient. Optimize your web pages and content precisely to serve search intent.
To meet the latest search engine requirements:
- Encrypt your website with HTTPS. Don’t get marked as “not secure.”
- Create strong, authoritative URLs that contain keywords.
- Write rich content in natural language.
- Cater your content to answer voice-activated search queries precisely.
- Start early, be active and utilize Google Analytics.
- Pay attention to format.
- Add a call-to-action on web pages.
Marisa Abeyta is a Senior Customer Content Specialist, SEO Certified team member and expert on press release distribution. She’s been with Cision since 2013. Connect with her on LinkedIn. A version of this article originally appeared on the Cision blog.
Excellent advice from Pattie Lovett-Reid, chief financial commentator, CTV News – 5 ways to grow your personal brand on social media.
ANALYSIS: Are you narcissistic if you’re on social media?
That was the question posed to me at a family BBQ on the weekend. I found myself defending those of us who use social media to get a message out, build a brand, or purely for the entertainment value. Admittedly I’m a late adopter, having only joined Instagram this past week and Twitter a few years back. However, prior to engaging, I asked experts in the field about ways to build a profile the right way, and I looked for some convincing that what I was doing was in fact a good thing to do.
Here is what I learned:
Social media is here to stay and employers hire people to ensure the person portrayed on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram is the person they think they are hiring. It has happened more than once where a candidate has been disqualified for a job after a social media search unveiled a less than ideal candidate. The question then becomes how do you develop a social media brand that shines a light on you in a good way, and helps to build your brand, not destroy it?
There are some obvious rules to live by, such as never post when you are angry if it is late at night or you don’t have all the facts.
Here are a few things I found helpful as I embarked on this brand-building social journey.
1) You need to take ownership of your brand. And yes, we all have a brand so you have to decide what it is you want to be known for.
2) Stay on top of trends, understand how your business is evolving, and be aware of changes in rules and regulations that impact you and your industry.
3) Think very small steps. Your brand will grow over time. It isn’t about doing one big thing right, it’s about doing a lot of little things right. It can take years to build and just one Tweet to destroy it.
4) Always look for opportunities. It is okay to think outside of the box but stay aligned to the goals of your organization. You don’t want to pursue a personal brand that is misaligned with the strategic initiatives of your organization. It is unlikely you will ever be bigger than the brand you work for.
5) Be authentic – authentic success, real success starts and ends with you being – you. Authenticity helps to build trust and in turn translates into your brand.
Finally, we all have to learn to say “no.” There is a tendency to want to say “yes” to every request that comes your way but by having the strength to say “no” allows you to walk away from the opportunities that don’t align with the personal brand you want to be portrayed.
When it comes to social media, I’m still a rookie and learning to proceed with caution. Accept it for what it is – a platform to get your message out, not a podium to hide behind, and finally, don’t let it become a productivity killer.
Of course the best piece of advice I already knew intuitively – never post anything your Mom wouldn’t be proud of.
As the Chief Financial Commentator for CTV News, Pattie Lovett-Reid gives viewers an informed opinion of the Canadian financial climate. Follow her on Twitter @PattieCTV