In the State of the Media 2011 Pew Research stated that search is the one factor that most affected the news business in the past decade. Since news is a vital part of PR, perhaps we should examine how search plays a part in PR and media relations.
For the past 100 years companies have delivered their messages via the media and the public has had no other method or vehicle to get the news. Now we can find news online – we can search for news they‘re interested in and find sources we trust.
This has turned the communication flow on its head: he who holds the mouse is now in control.
Search is still one of the top 10 activities people do online. And this applies to journalists too – 98% say they start a story with a Google search looking for ideas, background, experts and sources. You need to make sure your content appears on the other side of those searches.
So how do you get your news to be visible and ranked well in search?
The search engines have been quite open about what they’re looking for – good quality content that is relevant to the word or phrase someone searches, and a ‘good reputation’ for having good quality content. How do they gauge this reputation? They evaluate inbound links from other sites that refer people to your content. In August 2010, they added social links to the equation– mentions in blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Google + and other social sites like Reddit, digg and StumbleUpon.
Remember that it’s not only your content that appears in the search engines – while you are carefully crafting your content, others are doing the same. The public is longer passively sitting in their homes digesting your messages. They’ve discovered that they can talk back. ‘Word of mouse’ has taken the world by storm. People air their grievances or support for a cause or a company online. They are in conversation with one another. They’re blogging and tweeting. There are influencers in your space who can have a profound impact on their readers and this content will show up in a search – be that web search or news search – and this content could seriously affect your reputation.
Pay attention to search – as it affects the news business, so it affects PR. The downside is that too many PR folk are not aware of this and don’t know how to optimize their news content.