In the spirit of goodwill to the online PR community I’m going to share an observation that I made at Internet World 2013 (IW2013) in April. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) agencies are quickly engulfing digital services with over-promises and already have the potential to capture the minds of your clients. Think setting up a few social media channels is enough to keep your clients happy? Think again. PR agencies need to think deeper.
IW2013 was one of the best exhibitions I’ve ever attended as it striked a good balance between thought provoking talks and exhibiting digital businesses. Apart from the tedium of wandering around Earls Court 2 whilst waiting for the next session to begin, IW2013 was good value for money – it was free.
An observation… the exhibition was dominated obliterated by SEO agencies listing services such as:
- SEO (obviously!)
- Reputation Management
- Social Media Management
- Content Creation
- Mobile Optimisation
- Analytics and Reporting
- Brand Positioning
PR agencies, we are in clear danger of being overthrown by brand new SEO businesses who are offering services without the backing of industry accreditation (from the CIPR or PRCA) and without nearly enough experience of managing the media. Make no mistake, digital is now the media.
If we’re honest the PR industry has been quite slow to pick up digital and still many agencies are learning the very basics. Where we, as an industry, have been slow the SEO community has been picking up the slack. Which is unfortunate because SEO agencies traditionally publish awful media releases (here’s one about IW2013).
The other big issue about SEO agencies is that some of them heavily rely upon link building tactics, large amounts of re-written content and sponsored articles which can result in websites being blacklisted by Google in the future. If you choose to work with an SEO agency then make sure you ask the right questions.
So, what am I ultimately saying?
- Lots of PR agencies are now digitally savvy (especially the one I work for!) and compete well with SEO agencies on the ground of in-depth media experience and integration of both traditionally and digital services. The best campaigns are always integrated.
- Feel free to work with an SEO agency as a third party but remember that what they do isn’t rocket science and that the PR industry has been living and breathing content for far longer than SEO agencies.
- If you’re a PR consultant looking to learn a few new skills then learn how to do SEO – your services are needed in the PR industry now.