Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

A game of hide and seek for the PR professional…

Effective communication with an audience demands that you understand who your audience is, where they are, how they find information etc.  This isn’t rocket science, it’s more like PR 101.

Where do you find information? There’s probably a number of answers: magazines, newspapers, radio, TV, mailinglists, industry associations, your archives and maybe search engines?

It has always amazed me that the Public Relations profession hasn’t made a bigger effort to assimilate search engine optimization (SEO) into the PR tool kit. 

Be under no illusion folks, Search Engines are how people are finding information(1).

Search Engines are increasingly becoming the most influential means of information gathering online.  They have major implications for any client you are working with.  Whether you are trying to help them reach potential customers, compete in particular product categories or protect their repuation, search engines are a key element in those activities.

My perception is that there’s relatively little knowledge on the black art of SEO among practitioners.  Rather than owning the practice – after all it’s a logical extension of our other responsibilities – it seems PR is happy to let others handle it.  That’s a big mistake in my book. 

Another mistake I see is that everyone is beginning to talk about blogs as the nirvana of SEO.  Blogs are certainly a good tool in helping to improve SEO, but they are not the answer. How search engines measure and rank web sites is consantly changing as they try and stop people manipulating the rankings, therefore anyone serious about SEO must have a better understanding of how it works, rather than just trotting out blogs as the answer.

SEO involves a whole range of activities, a lot of measurement, fine-tuning and hard work.  I strongly advise you to invest the time to learn and understand how it works before your client starts asking you awkward questions.

Quote from the MediaPost article:

“Search is inextricably tied to your reputation,” said David Dunne, general manager and director of worldwide operations for interactive at Edelman, the largest independent public relations firm. “Your audiences seek answers in search engines, where your messages are competing with those of NGOs, class action firms, and special interest groups.” Dunne said that an entire Web-presence strategy is key, not tactics in isolation. “You need to listen, identify trends, and watch communications around a brand to gain insight and the opportunity to respond on multiple levels.”

More resources:

(1) 84% of Internet users have used search engines and 56% of users use them every day. Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Written by Tom Murphy

April 22, 2005 at 9:44 am

Posted in General

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