Are PR professionals going to get serious about strategic blogging?
In the last year we have been trying to recruit a senior member of our team. We have interviewed in-house and agency PR people, journalists, social media specialists. But very few are able to combine good old fashioned PR with online skills. And the biggest gap is in the ability to understand or write thought leadership blogs – which should now be at the heart of any social media strategy.
We have at last found our paragon who joins us in February.
But it has left us thinking – why this gap and what do PR professionals need to do about it?
Do PR practitioners understand SEO?
Two years ago, I wrote a blog ‘How did the PR industry lose the social media battle?’ I had spent the summer getting technical on search engine optimisation (SEO) and when reading the world’s leading books on the subject, I kept thinking – why aren’t PR people at the forefront of this market?
The best SEO activities are about engagement – not pushing information out at people. Core to any website or social media strategy should be a good blog – written to be helpful, engage, full of tips and good content. And who should be writing these? People with the best expertise in communications, engagement and writing: PR professionals.
And yet, this industry is dominated not by the communicators but by website/digital specialists and the PR profession is only hovering around the edge. Not at its heart.
I have read a few books and articles around why PR people aren’t very good at SEO and the general view is that PR people ‘don’t do technology’.
I’m sure this is more about mind-set than ability. If I look at our own office, we are none of us ‘techies’. But we have spent hours reading and training; formed partnerships with technical people; and forced ourselves to get into it. We still have a great deal to learn but we aren’t afraid of learning. Is it the mind-set and fear of technology holding our industry back?
What does the PR industry need to do to become the natural social media leaders?
Here is my 5 point plan to get PR professionals across the industry up to speed and seen as the leaders in this field. I fully recognise that we have a lot of recognised leaders – many of whom contributed to Share this Too. But how do we share this expertise and recognition wider? Would these steps help?
- PR degrees should ensure social media is an integral part of every module – from internal comms to community engagement; writing to crisis planning. Lecturers generally have been slow to understand the impact of social media and that is reflected in the courses we have seen – they are certainly not cutting edge
- The CIPR needs to increase its pace in showing how social media works for ordinary businesses and ordinary PR practitioners, not just the big brands with big bucks. After all, this will reflect what most PR people are working on across the country. The CIPR is just introducing a range of new social media courses – and we are delighted to have been appointed a new CIPR trainer to run some of these – but are PR practitioners going to take these up?
- A campaign to explain social media to business leaders within a business context and get them on board. Boardrooms need to understand the risks and opportunities so they can manage and ask the right questions about social media in their businesses
- Practical training courses on SEO (search engine optimisation – getting to the top of Google rankings) for PR practitioners
- PR practitioners themselves should not see SEO as about ‘technology’ but grasp the opportunities waiting for them
Google is changing its algorithms for searches. Good quality content is becoming more important by the month if you want to be at the top of a Google search. And strategic blogging is the way to do that.
There is a major market opportunity for our industry here. The importance of Google is only increasing – and Google is hungry for good content. Who is going to provide that? Are PR practitioners really grabbing this?
And if you are a PR practitioner keen to learn more then have a look at our ebooks on social media. Our latest on How to Write a Top-ranked Business Blog is proving very popular – do let us know if you find it helpful.