Public Relations in the Digital Age

Public Relations in the Digital Age

Is PR getting its own taste of bad press? You’ve probably heard the buzz from digital media that the press release is dying a slow death. I find it interesting that PR is often dismissed as part of an interactive marketing strategy (for no longer being relevant), but creating new content is “king”! We’ve all welcomed this meme as a critical component of search engine placement and PR is great fodder to attract search engine spiders. So where is the disconnect here?

Today I hope to debunk that perception and shed light on the value of online PR. As someone with a strong background in traditional media, I will share how the PR industry has evolved and the value it now offers.

The SEO Press Release

Let’s begin by exploring how the digital revolution has transformed the press release. The most significant change is the shift to the SEO release. While there are traditional PR principles to draw from (knowing how to write well, crafting an interesting story angle and networking with influencers), there are a whole new host of considerations for developing an SEO release. This includes writing catchy headlines with Google keyword searches in mind, optimizing content with targeted anchor text, including links to drive traffic to a website or online newsroom and adding video or images to make shareability of your news more appealing. From a content perspective, the message crafted in SEO releases is more about what the reader is looking for than what the company wants to say. And the way PR professionals network has been impacted as the digital age has brought about a whole new category of influencers with bloggers and online contributors.

Jim Nichols, Forbes Magazine contributor, shared this perspective on how information in the digital era is consumed in a recent article:

An advertising message can prompt someone to do a Google search, which finds your product because your site was properly SEO-optimized and press releases helped you get – and sustain – that ranking. That person signs up for a webinar using the same language found in the ad but to a greater depth, and then shares the findings with a colleague. At the end of the day, a discussion breaks out in the boardroom and someone says, ‘I remember hearing about this problem in company X’s webinar. Maybe we should give them a call.’ This is how today’s world of media consumption works.

PR’s Role in Online Marketing

Online PR should be the catalyst for every online promotion. As a best practice, whenever you develop a new piece of content, you should start with a press release and leverage it to generate multiple items at the same time, such as: social messaging copy and abstracts for Tweets, Facebook posts, Google+1 shares, LinkedIn comments, StumbleUpon likes, etc.

The Value of Online PR

By utilizing SEO press releases as part of your internet marketing strategy, you can expect to realize the following benefits:

Increased Visibility

From major media outlets to online users, the SEO release can be accessed by anyone searching for information on your industry, product or business.

Improved SEO and Website Traffic

Optimization allows you to embed anchor text within the body of the release and add keyword metadata on the backend. I would recommend that you use a keyword analyzer tool for grading the potential performance of your release with search engines.

Valuable Link Building Tool

With an SEO release, you have the ability to garner high quality back-links from reputable sources. There is long-term value as releases are indexed by third-party sites and maintained over time. And the more times your press release is viewed, the better the visibility for your website.

Ability to show ROI

Tracking online PR activity is relatively easy with reader impressions (the # of people who have read your content), traffic referrals (visitors referred by links on other websites) and trackable sharing (pingbacks, shares, likes, tweets, +1’s, etc.)

Brand Awareness

Improve your online reputation by using SEO releases to promote a positive image of your company.

Ability to Target Blog Communities

Many online distribution service providers offer the ability to reach out to a wide network of online bloggers and freelance writers in addition to national online media reporters, editors, etc.


The traditional press release has evolved as more consumers (74% according to the 2011 Pew Research Study) prefer to get their news online. And with exposure to this new audience, the public relations industry is turning it’s focus to building online traction for companies and brands. Creating keyword-rich SEO press releases that are shared across multiple platforms, result in higher organic search rankings through links on online news outlets.

Post Action Item!

Each time you add new content to your site, whether it’s an article, resource tool, video or blog post, distribute an SEO release. It’s one of the most valuable ways you can impact SEO and drive website traffic.

I am interested in hearing your online PR success stories – please share your feedback below!

Ann-Marie Jancovich

Ann-Marie is the Content Marketing and Promotions Manager at Vertical Measures. She merges multiple marketing disciplines to oversee the development of content for clients, while ensuring their promotional and SEO goals are reached through paid and earned media on social networks. +Ann-Marie Jancovich