9 Ways in Which PR Teams Fail SEO

by rishil on July 13, 2011

When PR Doesnt work with SEO and loses link opportunities.

PR and SEO

PR and SEO

I know How powerful SEO and PR can be. You do too, I am sure. PR is the one way to get legitimate “white hat” links of real authority. However, we are far from working well together with PR. Below I have highlighted 9 mistakes I have seen more commonly than I would like to.

This is a short post, because you dont need a full explanation – these points should, in theory, explain themselves.

  1. When the PR story is shared BEFORE the SEO team realise
  2. When the PR team release it without ANY links
  3. When the PR team knows something is cooking, but doesnt tell online team – especially with reputation management
  4. When the PR team links to product pages which may move around
  5. When the PR team links to product pages / site with ANALYTICS TRACKING
  6. When the PR team links, but doesnt capitalise on the right anchor text
  7. When the PR team gets a good link TAKEN OFF. (trust me, it happens)
  8. When the PR team refuses to answer interviews regardless of how good the Link opportunity is
  9. When the PR team waits for weeks before forwarding a GOOD link request from a National Newspaper, because its “online only”

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Rishi Lakhani is an independent Online Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media. Explicitly.Me is his Blog. Google Profile

{ 1 trackback }

SEO & PR – Why They Are Closer Than You Think | Screaming Frog
October 18, 2011 at 9:15 am

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

James English July 13, 2011 at 10:14 am

Great post Rishi! We’ve just started working closely with a PR agency who looks after PR for our client. They were suspicious at first and rejected the idea that anybody but them should be outreaching to bloggers as they know how to ‘nurture’ bloggers and have the industry/publishing contacts.

PRs should be reading your list of what not to do,(obviously!!) brushing up on how to optimise their content for SEO and analyse sites and blogs in more depth; but what do you think SEOs can learn from good PRs?


Gareth July 13, 2011 at 10:19 am

How about the PR team getting great articles in Glossy mags, but don’t even bother to ask if it will be online too even when you have told them hundreds of times. Arrrr


Bill Marshall July 13, 2011 at 10:51 am

And then there’s the PR team that link to the wrong url – sending links and visitors to your client’s main competitor! Yes it happened to me.


Lucas Bigwood July 13, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Good post Rishi. I work closely with a number of in-house PR teams and PR agencies and it’s been tough getting them to include SEO in the distribution process. Other points to note is that PR often distribute a release with strong anchor text links which point to different pages than we target via SEO. For anyone optimising PR’s, the notes to editors section is also an area in which there is opportunities to include optimised links which traditional PR’s overlook. I think the biggest part in this process however is education and a better understanding of each other’s roles and objectives in the distribution process.


Claire Thompson July 13, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Don’t shoot the messenger, but the list above may mean little/seem pointless to some PRs.

Anyone sharing these issues probably needs to help the PR team understand basic SEO and how it works – the added value that their work brings. But it usually needs to be positioned as helping them to deliver more value to clients than as a way for them to help the SEO team – that’s not their job. (Always happy to help on the training front, but would you expect me to say anything else?!)

I love that James has already identified some of the PR teams’ concerns, and identified that there is a lot of skills transfer to be shared. (Some of the problems listed above merit closer investigation.as they’re deliberate behaviour – like deliberately removing links’)

We (SEO PR Training) are about to launch a new package exactly because of James’ issues above – there’s a huge grey area where both SEO teams and PR people are reaching out to potentially the same bloggers.Both sides have skills to share, and, usually, shared skills that they’re already using. An understanding of each other’s disciplines can add immensely to our own value to the organizations we serve.( If anyone would like details of the new package as we announce it, do each out)


Levi Wardell July 13, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Yup, all of those things will burn my cookies each and every time. Especially when the PR “pro” claims SEO as part of what they provide.

Here are a couple more

– When you find out about a new release on accident because a syndicated version of it shows up in search results.
- When you find the press release on a bunch of spammy old article marketing sites that do more harm now than good.
- When the heart of the PR is a paragraph of good content and the rest is duplicate content about the company


Stuart P Turner July 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm

I half agree with the sentiment Rishi and I know this (of course) is not a simple black and white issue, however…

I’ve seen a lot of SEO finger pointing in my time – ‘Team/person X fails at simple SEO task A, WTF etc etc’ and not a lot of talk about how a little more communication and a little less snarking can easily resolve these issues.

I know it’s hard to believe for a lot of people, but knocking up a ‘press release’ yourself and putting it on PR Newswire does not constitute actual PR. Sorry.

I also have not seen (and correct me by all means if there are examples) are PR agencies writing ‘Why SEO agencies fail at PR’ posts. Do we really need to perpetuate this argument?

I know you’re not a sensationalist writer; you’re a reasonable, objective guy and a talented SEO. In this instance however I believe you are doing a lot of PR professionals an injustice.


rishil July 14, 2011 at 3:52 pm

No finger pointing – just simple facts with my observations Of course SEOs bugger up PR stuff too, I have done as weel. But these 9 points are the MOST common I have come across, and are ones no amount of training eradicates completely. Consider them as a checklist, not blame :)


Stuart P Turner July 14, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Duly noted sir, duly noted. I have to say #5 was unexpected, never seen that before!

I would still like to see a post from the other side of the fence to help SEO improve in this relationship as well; as long as these conversations remain civil then we can all be friends and move in together.



Jenny Simpson July 14, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Hey, I reckon I can try and be neutral in this one as I do SEO-PR…and therefore am familiar with the best and worst of both words.

Some of your points are completely right, especially “When the PR team knows something is cooking, but doesnt tell online team” – that’s a major frustration and should never happen, after all it’s just common sense to share information across depts / agencies.

But as Stuart says, you are being a bit extreme, I’m not sure if you’re being cheeky for link bait, or displaying the typical SEO personality trait of thinking your needs and opinions are the most important things in the world…? Hmmm, now I’m being a bit link-baity.

I think SEO and PR can work really well together, but there needs to be education on both sides.
SEOs need to learn it’s not just about links / ranking and sometimes the story or relationship is far more important than the SEO
PRs need to learn that optmisation is not a dirty word and that they will pick up some tips on widening their online audiences if they listen to their SEO team.

Basically, if we all play nicely, it’s to everyone’s benefit.


Addam Hassan July 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm

I have to admit this made me laugh. Classic mistakes for everyone to learn from.


Adel Mirshahi June 2, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Dear Rishi,
It was good notes and I translated it into Persian for Iranian and Afghani Readers.
hope see your next posts.
Adel Mirshahi


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