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The golden rule is to produce lots of great content and be very focused about where you place that content.  However there’s a bit more to it than just producing great content – so in a series of blogs I’m going to share with you some golden rules on succeeding in PR.

Firstly – Why use a PR agency?

People employ the skills of a PR agency for many reasons.  In our industry it’s usually about building a brand, raising awareness for vendors from the US or Israel as they enter new markets or regions and want to create a buzz in the media.  Other companies are keen to raise their name to the top of the Google rankings and beat their competitors with publicity, or they could be preparing for an IPO or desire to be noticed by venture capitalists or potential trade buyers. Whatever the reason it always comes down to companies wanting to ensure that more people see them in the right media, so more people come knocking on their door.  I’d say that’s a good enough reason to employ a PR agency.

They say that editorial is worth 5 times more than advertising because people believe what they read whereas with advertising they know it’s contrived to make them buy the product or service.  However with PR the agenda is hidden as the editorial has been written by a journalist so it’s got to be true – hasn’t it?

The other reason why it’s worth employing a PR agency is that they can reap dividends for you and are much cheaper than using an advertising agency.  Often even the smallest of ads can amount to two or three thousand pounds.  If you take a retainer with a PR agency it may only cost £3,000-£7,000 a month but you could get 50 to 100 pieces of editorial which is incredibly valuable in increasing your brand awareness and building your market share.  I’d say if you have the budget a mix of both advertising and PR is the perfect combination.

A good PR agency that is specialised and experienced in your space can also add a great deal of industry insight and help with all sorts of management issues – many of our clients use us as a sounding board for many a creative idea.  We’re often called into management meeting so that we can offer an objective point of view as we can see the company from the outsider’s perspective.

Also companies reach out to PR agencies because they just don’t have the man hours to do the PR themselves or they don’t have the contacts with the key press.  If you’re working with a specialist PR agency they are on the phone or emailing the key journalists every day and have a rapport with them, which is something that takes a very long time to build up and is worth its weight in gold if you’re trying to get decent coverage in tier one publications.

PR is time consuming and you need to be on the case all the time – in our business, stories are breaking throughout the day so you have to be following twitter feeds and newswires constantly to make sure you’re not missing any opportunities – often PR is just one of the many functions of an in-house marketing department so the in-house PR person just doesn’t have the bandwidth to follow all the potential stories that a PR agency does.

If you do want to build your profile and you are a company that is on the up or even a company that’s on the down and needs to make sure they reverse that process a PR agency can help to build your profile and be noticed.  There’s nothing nicer than getting those Google alerts with your name mentioned in them or even better when your PR agency rings you to tell you you’re going to be on the BBC – it’s those days you reflect on and look forward to telling your kids or even grand-children about!

In my next blog I’ll be talking about how to go about choosing the right PR agency for you.

We decided this week to have company-wide training on SEO – wow it’s blown my mind, it’s like so where do you start to play the game with Google when they constantly change the goal posts?

What I did learn is that thankfully content is still king – that’s the good part – so if you can produce lots of great content Google will love you.  Phew, so we’re still in business for a wee while yet!  What I also learnt is that Google will love you even more if you take the content you have and present it in many different forms to produce splinters of other original content.  So say you commission a great survey – I’m a true believer in survey’s because they give you so much original and interesting research and you present the findings in lots of different forms such as a press release, blog, video, webinar, podcast, photos, infographic, cartoon, whitepaper – hey presto – your SEO will go up and this is exactly what Google is looking for.

Links are also key to increasing your SEO too, so once again using PR to create as much original content on your company with links directing back to your site is the message of the moment.   The more coverage you get the more mentions and links to your website and you travel up the search engines.

However, what I also learnt which shocked me is that traditionally you would have sent out a press release and hope that it appeared on numerous sites, in the USA in particular most companies use a newswire to post their press release on as many sites as possible that take press releases.  The view was that this improved SEO, however, if your content looks the same as elsewhere on other sites to Google’s algorithms then at best the affect is neutral or your site can be penalised for duplicating content on multiple sites.  So US PR agencies who send everything out via the newswires should take note – having duplicate content on multiple sites is no longer good for SEO – contrary it will have a negative impact.

On the flip side though, traffic is what most companies are actually looking for so if you do get the same press release on multiple sites and it does drive traffic, just not help your SEO position.   To confirm that you are getting traffic that does not just bounce straight off your site check your analytics, you can sign up to Google for free.

Confused???  You have to learn to play the game – that’s what I learnt this week – you need to know Google’s rules and obey them whether you like it or not.  Opting out is not an option if you want to survive in business.  Go learn the rules and come play with the rest of us and remember content is King and always will be!

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By Neil Stinchcombe, Director, Eskenzi