Monday, 1 April 2013

The PRs v SEOs debate at SAScon

SAScon is one of the UK’s finest Search, Analytics and Social Conferences, hosted each May in Manchester.
This year one of the most interesting panel debates was entitled "Are PRs from Venus and SEOs from Mars? When will the planets ever collide?".
It explored whether PR practictioners and SEO techies could and should work together. If the answer was "no", which one group would be more influential in the future?
Among several important side issues was whether AVEs (advertising value equivalents) had any relevance as a matrix for assessing clients' traditional media and/or digital coverage.
On the panel was James Crawford of PR Agency One, Peter Bowles of Dynamo PR and Simon Wharton of online marketing agency PushON. The session was moderated by Lexi Mills of Distilled, a web development agency turned online marketer.

At the seminar at The Hive, Lever Street, Simon Wharton threw down the gauntlet straightaway saying he was "less interested in rankings and keywords and more on clients' revenues".

If they were growing he was prepared to claim the credit, seemed to be the inference.
He went on: "PR agencies are full of clueless, johnny-come-latelies."
Peter admitted that in the past convincing clients of the effectiveness of PR using AVEs was often "like a gameshow".
Although he no longer uses AVES, he confessed that, historically, if a particular bit of coverage in the Dail Mail was actually worth £50,000 (in AVE terms) PRs would often "double it" and call that £100,000.

James Crawford

Simon said AVEs were not quite dead yet because clients are "still not asking the right questions".
When they did some PRs could be in trouble, he intimated.
James agreed: "Sometimes you get a bean counter who has heard about AVEs and still asks for it."
Peter said neither the CIPR or PR Week used AVEs for judging success for awards.

PRs and marketers should go on courses and learn about analytics, said Simon.
Should SEOs attend all agency meetings?
There were advantages and risks, said the panel.
What if SEOs took the client away from the PR agency?
Simon said it was vital that if a PR wants to place a good story there should be initial input from SEO and Pay-Per-Click specialists to drive initial engagement.
PRs therefore need a broader knowledge if this "all agency" approach is to happen.
But he also argued the old fashioned methods of marketing could still be effective.
"Sometimes the best way is just to pick up the phone."
Skype and Google hangouts were other ways of "getting people together".
Good contacts, they all agreed, were crucial.
Peter revealed how one London Radio station dealt with Press releases.
If they didn't include the words "London", "Boris" or "Olympics" in the first few lines they tended to end up unread and in the bin.

James, Peter and Simon

He added that the media landscape had changed completely in the last five years.
James argued that in the next five years the whole debate could be irrelevant if Google moves the goalposts and ranks sites by something other than links.
In the event of all out war between PRs and SEOs, Lexi concluded, which camp would emerge victorious?
Simon was convinced that SEOs already held all the aces.
We'll see.
You can see James' slides on the issues here.

No comments:

Post a Comment