The PR industry has already successfully expanded its brief from media relations to social media. Now, having decisively won the battle for ownership of the social media strategies of some of the world largest companies, it’s coming to claim a share of their SEO and content marketing budget.

blurred linesThe industry’s pitch for this business is a strong one indeed, as we will see in just a minute, and recent Google algorithm updates have made it even stronger. Here are the five reasons I think it’s almost impossible and ultimately futile to try to separate the two.

1) PRs are content experts

The skills they’ve built up over decades of developing high quality campaign-focused content and pre-packaged news stories to snare media interest are immediately transferable to content marketing and SEO… and they know it.
Techniques used to generate news, such as consumer surveys, research-driven thought leadership or provocative opinion pieces, can also generate highly shareable content. Having acknowledged that these days their content needs to go beyond just conveying corporate or brand messaging, they’ve set about mastering the art of building-in that sought after quality of shareability.

Adept news generators, copywriters, communicators and content organizers, link building (an important element of any SEO strategy) is not a big leap for them to make.

2) Their strong relationships with clients also make them the natural choice

Related to my last point, the PR industry already enjoys a direct-line to clients’ marketing teams and, in a lot of cases, their C-level executives. From here they can demonstrate enough of a crossover of services between SEO/content marketing and what they’re already doing to make it an easy upsell into more of their marketing budget.

This is exactly what they did with social media. The link from content like media releases, case studies and feature articles to blogs, infographics and link building activity is a straightforward one to make.

Marketing managers or directors are keenly alert to opportunities to consolidate their budgets with suppliers and the one-stop shop for these services presented by modern PR agencies appeals to this instinct.

3) PR’s little black book is perfect for link building

Most PR companies — the ones that are any good, anyway — also have an enviable list of contacts with which to place their quality content at nationals and with leading bloggers. And their media relations skills will give them a distinct advantage on this particular battlefield.

This, combined with their expertise in content development, is the foundation of their play for this particular market. The recent Hummingbird update to Google’s algorithm, sharply focussed on high quality content, favours them in this respect and they’re in a position to significantly raise the bar here (more on this in a minute).

4) Google algorithm changes mean it makes sense to SEO your content rather than develop content for SEO
Google Hummingbird means that content must be generated with the audience in mind and not to game search engines — something the PR industry has been doing for decades. As the owners and gatekeepers of so much marketing content and collateral already, PR teams are now firmly in the driving seat when it comes to strategic content development.

5) PR is learning how to measure its impact

In the days when print and broadcast media reigned over all, PR was notoriously tricky to measure, relying on dubious metrics like advertising value equivalent (AVE) to justify its existence. Not anymore.

With the majority of communications activity now taking place online this is no longer a problem and now that they are able to demonstrate the value of what they do with cold, hard numbers (social shares and Google analytics, for example) PR operators are growing in confidence and value.

So there you have it: PR is the new SEO. In fact, this transition is moving so fast that a year from now a post like this will probably be so darn obvious that it wouldn’t even be worth writing! But until then, I hope this has provided food for thought for “traditional” SEOs who may themselves have started seeing increased competition from these new kids on the block.