Blurred Lines: PR Industry’s New Theme Song

PR blurred lines

Last week I attended the annual Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned (PESO) Principles PR Week Conference in New York City. The impact of branded content was the theme of the day. When lines are blurred, the result can be exciting and down-right scary (Robin and Miley, I rest my case).


The four types of Media
The four types of Media


What does it mean for the PR profession as we know it, whose foundation rests on the ability to generate earned media, when we increasingly find ourselves navigating the murky paid waters of brand integrations? What does it mean for the traditional ad sales guy when companies no long have ad dollars to spend, but marketing budgets having increasing room for branded content?


In the beginning, no one internally wanted to “own” social media – that’s not MY job. Now, with the embedment of branded content in the PR toolbox, we might as well own it.


As the traditional publishing industry continues to dwindle and talented writers on the rise in the market, the time is ripe for brands to invest in producing original content. Retailers are becoming publishers, and brands are becoming lifestyles.


Ashley Brown’s success with the Coca-Cola Journey site is just one example that speaks volumes. This lifestyle page has quickly become beloved by brand enthusiasts, both satiating and inspiring their palate; to the point that Coca-Cola dissolved its corporate original homepage.

coke journey
the Coca-Cola Journey homepage


We live integrated lives; our smart phones allow us this luxury. We can shop while watching TV and eat while posting a review of the restaurant we’re at. The best brands offer a consistent experience, worldwide, through every channel from in-store to online to mobile.


It’s key to remain authentic to your brand’s voice as Coca-Cola learned the hard way. Readers of their Journey page didn’t want hard-hitting news stories full of doom and gloom. Coca-Cola is a happy, family brand and the most popular piece of content on their site to date is a recipe for Coca-Cola cake. Not surprising, right?!


But when a company pays for branded content where does ad sales leave off and editorial begin? Clearly both need to be integrated to deliver on the product sold and yet this blurs the most sacred line of publishing. VP and deputy head of strategy at News Corporation Raju Narisetti confessed that this issue and the rapid adoption of mobile content consumption are what keep him up at night. Newsrooms simply aren’t’ equipped today to handle this.


According to EVP and CMO of Target, Jeff Jones:

Mobile will disrupt the internet the way the internet disrupted business.


Seems that ad sales, marketing, newsrooms and PR professionals will all be affected by the adoption of branded content. How are these blurred lines affecting your marketing today?


low hanging fruit

Picking Low-Hanging Fruit: Using Social Signals to Boost Search Rankings

low hanging fruit

Ever since Matt Cutts announced that Google was, indeed, factoring social signals in their search rankings and results (not that we were surprised) back in December 2010, marketers have looked for ways to use signals to enhance their presence in search results. It was a no brainer here at 451 Marketing – we’ve been integrating search and social media tactics for years. Picking social keywords, optimizing social posts, and making all content socially portable and search-friendly.


One of my favorite ways to demonstrate the power of social signals is a method we’ve coined, “Low-Hanging Fruit.” Low hanging fruit are keywords– which you may or may not be tracking – that you rank for on page 2 of Google search results. The idea is simple – target terms that you currently rank on page 2 for and usual social to push them over the edge to page 1. Say you have a term that you currently rank 12 or 13 for. You’re so close to being on page one but will only get a tiny fraction of the traffic that position 5 or 6 will get.


Why is it so important? Only 7-10 results in Google for a search appear on page one. And these results are prime real estate. 75% of searchers never scroll past the first page of search results according to Search Engine Journal. Getting past the page 2 plateau can really boost search traffic around a specific term which can significantly boost the business value on that term.


How do we use the low hanging fruit approach? First, run a report that ranks the top keywords for your site. We prefer to use Conductor Searchlight, but you can also use Google Webmaster tools, it just takes a bit more elbow grease.


Take a look at all the terms for which you rank in positions 11-20. Of those terms, see which ones have high search volume. In the case below, we see in Conductor that our client (we’ve hidden their name for confidentiality reasons), a home décor company, ranks #15 and #19 for “8×8 rugs” and “8×8 rug.”


This is our low hanging fruit. We share with our social media team that we want them to push out posts about 8×8 rugs that the client makes for the upcoming week across channels.


And while posting alone is helpful for SEO, the real boost comes from social sharing. Our social team posts compelling content (and even contests and promotions) around 8×8 rugs. The more shares, links, likes, retweets, or +1s (this is Google we’re talking about, after all), the more relevance Google will attribute to you around that term.


Over a few weeks of targeting and posting low hanging fruit terms, we can see a definitive growth in our Low hanging fruit (Page 2) Keywords that turned into page one rankings.


The caveat to this approach is just like any other SEO effort: we don’t control Google’s algorithm. Therefore, we can’t be sure this will work on every single keyword we try (spoiler alert: it doesn’t). For the most part, though we are seeing huge success on the majority of the keyword that we push through social signals.

What are you doing to boost your SEO though social? Let us know!