August 22, 2013
There are some new Google guidelines, and much buzz is circulating about how these rules will affect news releases (formerly known as press releases). Speculation is also swirling about how the guidelines may impact the PR industry and public relations firms as a whole.
In summary, good PR is still good PR, and good PR still works. For many smart public relations professionals, like Axia Public Relations', Google’s closer look at “unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community” means simply this: Keep up the good work that smart public relations firms and professionals are already doing.
The hype stems from a ZDNet article outlining some of the changes, titled “Did Google Just Kill PR Agencies?” One includes the restriction on keywords to avoid keyword stuffing, with which most firms already comply if they are including blogs in their efforts. A second issue comes with whether or not professional PR agencies can still use Google to send out media releases across online channels, which could, perhaps, fall into the unattractive “spam” group.
The answer to this returns to PR core tasks, such as reading various newspapers or news-based content sources, contacting a reporter or editor to personally pitch a story and carefully crafting the message to make sure it fits the expectations of that audience for the best results. Distribution of news content must be strategic and targeted, rather than a simple push of a button to reach hundreds of markets all at once. There's nothing new about that.
PR executives may need to seek out and really get to know key newsroom contacts – which, again, the best never stopped doing. In reality, the process of pitching a story or building a client’s brand reputation might be more streamlined if the proposed Google guidelines take full effect.
Additionally, news pieces written for online sharing will need to contain fewer links that exist only to rev up page rankings. In general, they’ll need to be written as engaging, clever pieces that consumers want to read at the same time they boost awareness for brands “naturally.” Again, business as usual for top PR agencies. It's always good to focus on limited links for greater link authority. This may also hold true for longer articles, guest blogs and other forms of online content. It could take some adjustment to be sure pieces are not overly “promotional,” and the results might be a solid brand boost to the target audiences.
How will clients react? With the right information provided to them about your step-by-step strategies, they will likely enjoy and appreciate the opportunity for more targeted and specific results.
Still, there are challenges to address. Some of the tools that make up a complete, effective PR strategy may now be outside of the new Google guidelines. PR agencies may need to establish their own new parameters for protecting clients from falling outside of the guidelines, and this isn’t simple.
However, good PR is still good PR. Focusing on the right story to the right audience in the right format still works, whether it’s about crisis management, reputation management or social media communication. Rise up, friends: It’s going to take a bit of thought to embrace the new Google guidelines, but it’s still business as usual.
By Jason Mudd, APR
Jason Mudd, APR, is the CEO of Axia Public Relations and an Emmy-Award-winning accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. His public relations portfolio includes work for established national brands such as American Airlines, Dave & Buster’s, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles and Verizon and emerging brands like Brightway Insurance, Pragmatic Works and It Works! Global.