How Public Relations and Search Engine Marketing Work Together

By Bergen Rebello
Account Supervisor, Client Relations

When I joined Resolution Media a few months ago, I didn’t realize just how much I would be able to apply my background in public relations and publicity.  Since then, I’ve learned ways that search engine marketing can be extremely beneficial to public relations efforts.  From managing media crisis to protecting the image of a brand, search tactics can be used to ensure that news information gains maximum visibility.

One of the clients that I work with is utilizing SEO and paid search for a brand perception campaign.  They’re not trying to sell anything tangible – their main concern is ensuring that they are able to manage the public perception of their product, which includes addressing negative press when necessary.  The goal is to remain as proactive as possible so that we are on top of trends and news before it negatively impacts the brand’s perception.  One way we do this is by creating a back-fill campaign to capture any general searchers for news are articles related to the product.  We also work with our client’s PR team to monitor the news for important stories and announcements.  If a specific topic is generating enough buzz to impact search demand trends, then we determine if it would be beneficial to utilize the search program to address the news.  That way, individuals who are searching for news content (whether it’s positive or negative) will also find the messaging that we are trying to communicate, and have an opportunity to educate themselves on the subject with information from my client.  Public reaction can have a significant impact on the reputation of a company, brand, or individual, so PR and SEM really go hand-in-hand.

An example of a brand that isn’t using paid search or display advertisements (but would benefit from doing so) is Domino’s Pizza.  As many may remember, there was a scandalous video of Domino’s Pizza employees that was posted on YouTube.  It created tremendous negative media attention for the brand and was considered a “PR nightmare.”  However, when I searched for the video, there were no paid search results or display ads.  Domino’s could use these opportunities to defer attention to positive messaging about the brand.

It’s beneficial to monitor what is being said about your brand using daily news alerts, social media sites, and tools that can analyze coverage over periods of time.  My client called me this morning and requested a report showing how many people were searching about a particular topic in the news recently that was associated their product.  Our team pulled reports using tools like Google Trends and AdWords, and we found that the search trends had not changed significantly as a result of the breaking news.  Sure, there’s lots of news out there, but SEM can be instrumental in determining the “level of interest” amongst the public.
So, next time you’re creating a public relations strategy, be sure to factor in search marketing tactics and strategies to maximize the effectiveness of your efforts.  When these two disciplines work together, they can become a powerful force behind any brand or organization.


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