Why is search engine optimization important?
“SEO is the cornerstone of the shift from push to pull communication strategies,” says Melanie Widmann, social media and search marketing manager at Marketwire. “It allows target audiences to obtain information in their choice of media and is crucial to any organization's communication strategy,”
People share their interests in various mediums, including social media sites and Web pages. Nearly 90% of all online traffic by adults is achieved through various search engines, notes a report by Pew Internet.
“Search engines are constantly crawling the Web to pick up new content,” Widmann says. “By... employing a keyword strategy, your site can be visible to people searching for your type of product, service, or brand.”
Successful steps to SEO implementation include paying attention to the number of keywords, keyword placement, meta tags, and the hyperlinks you use in your press releases and Web site, she adds.
How can I use social media for audience research?
“What once required time-intensive data collection and expensive lists can be gathered faster and more cost-effectively thanks to social media sites,” says Eva Keiser, SVP at Risdall McKinney PR. “Social media communities offer PR pros access for engaging the opinions of targeted audience segments.”
Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook communities can be effective ways to distribute opinion surveys targeting specific groups – particularly for new business and initial research phases.
“The strategy is effective for tapping into consumer audiences and narrowly defined b-to-b segments,” Keiser adds. “But before you blanket social media sites with surveys, establish yourself within the community.”
Also, be committed to “giving back” to the community by sharing information and joining the conversation.
How do you prepare PR pros for a digital world?
The pace of digital evolution can be overwhelming for established PR pros, says Laura Smith, MD of HR at Edelman. “Newspapers are downsizing and forecasts for 2009 have advertising declining too.”
The way agencies practice their trade in the future will be quite different than today.
“Firms must reward forward-thinking work, and provide employees the chance to learn and innovate,” Smith says. “If this doesn't happen, those PR pros might become irrelevant.”
Another idea is to utilize a reverse mentoring program, where Millennials coach members of older generations on engaging audiences through social media.
“This is a true win-win scenario that empowers junior staff and promotes relationship building while improving the digital skills of more seasoned practitioners,” Smith says.
Send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact Beth Krietsch if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.