PR Firms: Spend your Money on SEO

I just got off a call with reporters that gave some great insights in how to get media coverage for a business. Ideally you’ll get stories both off and online.

Reporters use the Internet to find and develop stories, if you’re a PR firm looking to get your clients noticed, your first focus should be online. “I don’t know how I did my job without the Internet” claimed one journalist.

The Internet is how you reach reporters. Start with email, get onto blogs, and invest in SEO.

What’s DEAD in PR:

  • Press releases – most journalists don’t read them.
  • Inviting reporters to lunch, for coffee, your event, or to meet you in person. They’re too busy.
  • Calling reporters to check to see if they got your pitch or have any questions. It drives them crazy and they won’t respond. They’ll call you if they’re interested.
  • Sending press kits, spiffs, or other free things in the mail. Most end up with the doorman or in the trash.
  • Sending pictures with an email pitch. They take up too much room, if they cover the story they’ll ask for pictures or their staff will take some.

What’s HOT in PR:

  • Getting stories from blogs. Reporters read blogs to get story ideas. Most of the time it’s easier to get on a blog than reach a journalist.
  • Getting your story into search engines. Reporters use search engines ALL THE TIME. So if you come up high on the page of results, you’re more likely to get covered. SEO is money well-spent.
  • Personalized email pitches. Put the angle in the subject line and get right to the point. Show that you’ve done some homework and know what the reporter covers. Email is probably the best way to reach a reporter after you’ve identified which ones cover your topic.
  • Stories about how the economy is directly affecting your business. This will probably be hot for at least a year. How is the economy changing your behavior, affecting your customers, etc.

So forget all the work and money you’ve put into press kits, press releases (except online PR which can help your SEO), and exclusive events. Get to know the blogosphere and talk to OrangeSoda about doing SEO for your clients!



I agree with you that SEO is really important for PR (I actually also just blogged it but I think that reporters still do appreciate their relationships with companies and spokespeople. SEO is great for learning about big groups of people, but I think that some traditional PR approaches are still needed for great, sustained media coverage.

Lee Odden

Great post Janet, I’m doing a workshop at the annual PRSA conference this weekend on the very same topic. There are many types of news content to be optimized for journalists doing research. SEO in that context is a bit different than SEO for lead generation.

Janet Meiners Thaeler

@Lee Thanks for your comment. I’d love to get a guest post about the different approach needed to do SEO for content. Or, let me know if you write about it or if there are good posts about your workshop to link to.

@Nadjab – I agree that you need both types depending on the size of your company or your importance in a niche.

– Janet

Nick Stamoulis

I totally agree, some of the old tactics are just old school inside the box thinking. Writers and reporters are people and all people use search engines so it makes total sense to get as much exposure as possible.

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