Blog

An SEO’s story: 6 things I’ve learnt from the world of digital PR

By . Posted 19 July 2021

I’ve been working in the digital marketing world for over 20 years now, and time really has flown. But during those two decades, I’ve worked in a huge variety of roles and industries. SEO became part of my day job waaay back when keyword stuffing was a thing (it hurts to even think about that now).

Since then, the world of SEO has evolved so fast and spectacularly, becoming an established industry, and in recent years, a career specialism. Plus, there’s an amazing community that’s filled with inspiring thought leaders (and to my delight, a huge number of women (hello Women in Tech SEO)).

My adventures in SEO mirrored that evolution. From a beginner back in the day, to where I am now, leading the SEO arm of a fantastic digital PR and SEO agency – and I’ve loved every second.

As I said, I’ve worked in a lot of industries, with brands large and small, but joining No Brainer is 100% one of the most exciting career moves I’ve made. PR was mysterious, and the magic of Digital PR + SEO had me well and truly hooked. So, when the opportunity came along, especially with the amazing bunch at No Brainer, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

It has now been over six months since I became a “No Brainer”, and it has been an eye-opening experience – and education. Here’s what I’ve learned…

 

1. The audience matters most

This isn’t new to me. It’s at the core of what I believe about marketing, and I still get a huge kick out of it. 50% of my role at No Brainer is insights, leveraging them to deliver the very best campaigns and strategies. It wasn’t new to No Brainer either, the entire team just gets it, so continuing that adventure with them has been thrilling.

However, what is new is that it’s reshaped my approach to outreach strategies. I’ve observed what journalists will and will not engage with, how to get the most from each piece, but also how important it is to reach out to the right outlets.

Insights is fundamental to understanding that, especially building target personas, then continuing to expand our understanding from there. All that juicy data creates audience-focused campaigns that are delivering amazing results for our clients.

 

2. Relationships and collaboration is key

We know the very best digital PR is impactful, delivers to objectives, but is also measurable – whether that’s via AMEC, SEO tools or even good old Google Analytics.

From initial briefing and brainstorming ideas, having SEO and market insights, keywords, and link building targets as the foundation of a strategy is vital to the success of any campaign.

Key to great PR is relationships and collaboration. Hands up, I’m no “PR pro”, but my work as an SEO is important for the team that are the pros, and of course, for our clients too. So, ensuring the right people are in the room from day one helps you achieve the very best for all involved.

 

3. Making time for fun

Working at a digital PR agency, you can get caught up in the daily cycle of deadlines and meetings. So, having time to reflect and let your hair down is key.

No Brainer genuinely believes and encourages real work/life balance, so you can switch off and reboot. But it’s also important to take time as a team to celebrate the highs, and just connect with each other. Whether it’s grabbing a brew and chewing the fat, having a few cocktails after work, a movie night, or even bigger things (like paintballing!). We all need time to laugh.

This time re-energises you, gives you a little boost, and adds to your well-being. Something we all need every now and again!

 

4. Don’t panic

Crisis communications seems terrifying from the outside. But, being a bystander, watching the comms person responsible for it, well, it’s like they’re standing in the eye of a storm. They’re calm, collected, and know how to untangle even the most complex or sensitive situation. It’s quite something to behold!

If anything, it’s taught me that in a crisis you need to take a deep breath, stand back and looking at the bigger picture, and importantly, read the room. Then put out the fires strategically – like a fire-fighter would. Working to contain the situation, controlling the spread, before finally putting it out altogether. Those relationships, understanding of the audience, as well as insights, are vital to cracking it.

Sticking with that analogy, once the fire is out, understand what caused it and how to prevent it (if possible) in future. Then start to assess the damage. Has it impacted brand sentiment/affinity? Is there a lasting impact? How can any damage be reversed?

It has given me a new perspective on things, and a deeper appreciation for those working behind the scenes in a PR crisis!

 

5. PR is hard

For those who haven’t been too involved in SEO, they’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s a bit of a dark art. That SEO folk simply magic-up results – but it takes a lot of behind-the-scenes elbow-grease, hours tinkering with code and staring at data on-screen, along with an inconceivable number of hours in meetings to drive things forward.

PR is similar. It’s bloody hard.

I think I’ve shared this GIF a million times with the team since joining, but when I watch them do their thing, it’s like watching the Jedi in Star Wars.

Jedi mind-trick GIF

I was under no illusion that being an expert in PR was truly earned. But the depth of skill, best practices and methods, tactics, and strategies (for a huge range and types of PR). They push things forward, while never taking their eye of the ball with important relationships – constantly building and maintaining them. And there’s so much more I’m still learning about.

With PR, I’d quite happily hold my hands up and say that I’d have no idea on even where to start. But during these last six months, I’ve been in awe of how our wonderful bunch of PR experts do what they do daily.

 

6. PR is hugely valuable

Again, this isn’t my first rodeo. I was always aware of the power of digital PR, but now I’m its biggest fan. It makes the SEO side of me rub its hands together like some sort of movie villain – the quality of backlinks that good digital PR can generate is gold dust, and the fact the link will be placed with an outlet that’s relevant and meaningful to the target audience means it’ll deliver much more than just link equity.

I’ve seen conversions/sales spike for some of our clients by over 100% for a set period and traffic jump by hundreds of percent.

Now, it isn’t just all about the SEO win. For our clients, gaining coverage for their brand is a big thing. Whether it’s to bolster brand visibility and sentiment, make waves about their latest product, or establish them as thought leaders and experts.

There are so many ways that PR helps brands, large and small, and I’m loving working at an amazing digital PR agency, using insights to demonstrate the great stuff that’s happening!

 

The next six months

It’s an incredibly exciting time at No Brainer. We’re growing, big time. From new clients, to expanding the team. I can’t wait to see what the next six months hold for us all, and the wonderful new things I’m going to learn while helping to shape and continue to expand our SEO offering. I’ll keep you posted!