John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

johnon.com  Competitive Web & SEO

PR is where the Money Is

A shout out to all of you disenfranchised ex-SEO people out there: Public Relations is where the Money Is!

PR is a solid career with very little formal credentialing required. Even better, the consumers of PR services have less knowledge about PR than SEO consumers had about SEO! PR is a GOLDMINE opportunity for online marketers, I tell ya.

A few years back, barely any of the young PR people trying to make a name for themselves in that established industry recognized the amazing “blue water” opportunity that was SEO. The few who did recognize it, did what any good self-promoter would have done: they branded themselves SEOs and ran with it all over the PR and SEO marketplaces.

A few kind gestures, some glad-handing of key SEO industry egos, and WHAM… speaking opportunities appeared on panels at Pubcon, SES, SMS, etc. Not only was the PR version of the Internet Marketing story unique content for the eager newbies buying conference tickets, the earned authority (as an SEO) that came from being a “sought-after speaker” was immensely valuable…back in PR world.

Before SEOs realized the profits that were sitting in Big Brand accounts eager for attention, these PR “mavericks” were all over it. And with Big Brand logos attached to client lists, the SEO contracts followed.

Can’t actually do much “real SEO”? No problem… just farm out the audit, link-building, and (only if necessary) on-page SEO work, and push the client towards the PR side of SEO… the Social Media, the Guest Blogging, the “outreach” and the “co-citations”. Down-talk true SEO if necessary… those old techniques of referring to pimply-faced geeks and the like still work wonders in OldBigBrand world. And buy the client a drink… alcohol still works wonders. The Advertising industry is not dead yet!
As the Market for Lemons moved effective SEO out of the reach of the increasingly burned and hesitant marketplace, things like Social media seemed like answers to the imaginary problem of “no rankings”. And with Google obfuscating as much as it could as fast as it could, the lack of performance was nothing a little decent PR deceit couldn’t cover up. Selling is more than half the battle, and selling requires access. Access can be gained through SEO badges… and the SEO world hands them out like candy. Opportunity!

Well, sadly, that opportunity has dried up. If you can’t deliver customers, sales, or measurable outcomes, in addition to visible rankings (which may not even mater), you’re no longer welcome at the client teet.  But guess who is still taking the cash? Yup. THE PR PEOPLE!

Hah ha wow, those clever PR people have re-branded right back to “communications” again, as the specifics of SEO and technical work lost luster. Amazing, those guys. Or is it?

PR is where the money is. Take my advice:

* Just ONE INTRODUCTORY COURSE in Public Relations is enough. You’ll get it. You’ll see the parallels, and immediately see how you can spin your Internet Marketing experience (no mater how dim, basically) into convincing fodder for the BigBrand boardroom.

* start publishing. If there’s one thing we all learned from the Rise and Fall of SEO, it’s that there is NEVER enough authoritative-sounding content published to the Internet.When I played Lacrosse my coach told us “when you’re not working out, the other guy is getting bigger than you” and he was right. Lazy feeds the beast that is your competition. Memorize the idea of “Least Publishable Unit” and apply it in the PR world. Grab on to those industry buzzwords and redefine them closer to what YOU do, to gain the power. It’s not that hard.

* Start Glad-Handing the PR people. Aim for the 45 and older crowd.. they’re the more desperate ones. The Old Guys of that industry are STILL holding on at 60+, boldly ignoring what actually works today because they think they have the client accounts locked up. The young people have basically abandoned the old school approach. The middle-agers are not staring at a fertile next 20 years of work, and they know it. They NEED young blood to do the work (whatever that is). Pitch them… and be sure to carry a non-threatening demeanor.

* Play Dumb about PR and say “Wow I Didn’t Know That”. These middle-aged PR people who have been working both sides of the PR industry (the PR side, and the Internet side) have super big egos, but work really hard to suppress their true personalities in public (part of the PR training). You’ll do best if you treat them like Mensa Warriors. In fact, play super-dumb about anything THEY SAY is PR, and you’ll probably have the best luck. Oh, and learn to smile and shake hands as if it mattered, because in that world, it does.

* Re-brand as a PR Agency or Communications Agency. Seriously… it works! I’ve already seen several “How can we Grow our Business” mind-maps in 2013 that considered “Better SEO” and expensive, high-risk strategy, and “hire a PR pro” as low-hanging fruit. You need to become a “Pro” now. See the above for how to shift your “fake it till you make it” seo skills right into PR world with the least amount of friction.

* Start a new Conference with a Great PR Name. Some tried this years ago, but it was too early. Audience Building, Growth Blasting, or whatever, wasn’t attractive while Google’s referrer tags screamed that Google’s share of Internet was growing in an unstoppable way. But now Google knows that everyone knows Google is unstoppable, so that keyword evidence is being covered up. With less obvious information about what actually works to drive business, what will Big Brand lazy clients do? As my Grandpa used to say, given a vacuum…. MAKE A NOISE! It’s YOUR TIME now. YOU EARNED IT. All you have to do, is GO GET IT!

Effective some time very soon, we will be re-branding everything we do over here as “PR”, for the same reasons I highlight above. I know the general public (and 99% of the PR world) doesn’t read this blog, so this post doesn’t give away the farm. Besides, it’s a true Blue Water opportunity… lots of room for all of us. If I could start today, I would, but my pesky partners are still insisting on good SEO architecture for our re-branded website. I can’t ditch them until 2015 under my current contract, or BELIEVE YOU ME I WOULD. I’d be all over the PR thing like a link builder on SEO, or like a Content Marketer on SEO, or an InBound Marketer on SEO, or… well, you get the idea.

★★ Click to share this article:   Digg this     Create a del.icio.us Bookmark     Add to Newsvine

No Responses to “PR is where the Money Is”

Comments are closed for this post.