Integrated Marketing: Think Holistically About PR, Search, Social and Content

By | July 27, 2012
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Following is a guest post by Matt Gratt (@mattgratt), senior marketing manager at Buzzstream, a customer relationship management (CRM) system for public relations and link building. For more of his writing about the intersection of PR, SEO, social and content, read the Buzzstream blog. Matt lives in Austin, Texas. 

Public relations, search marketing, content marketing and social media have traditionally been practiced as separate disciplines. That needs to change. With the rise of modern technologies, new ways of browsing the web and evolving customer behavior, great marketing encompasses all of these channels.

Gone are the Days of the Past

In the early days of the web, PR, search, social and content were different than today, and therefore, could be executed independently.

  • SEO was a dark art, obsessed with technical details of websites, meta tags and submission pages.
  • PR outreach was conducted solely to print publications, with the occasional online outlet. Bloggers were viewed with suspicion and sometimes as less than ‘real’ journalists.
  • Social media meant forums—and those simply weren’t places to do business.
  • And, content was something the sales rep gave the prospect. 

The world has changed. All of these disciplines have become intermingled as a result of the continued growth of the web.

Integrated Marketing Services

You can’t practice one of these disciplines with any level of effectiveness without practicing the others.

  • SEO is now about developing link authority. One of the best, most sustainable ways to do that is by creating high quality content and promoting it via social channels and outreach to influencers.
  • The difference between blogger relations, social media and PR has become murky, if even decipherable. Now, more outlets are moving to online-only models, and bloggers have incredible influence. Additionally, some of the strongest ROI from PR comes from integrating media outreach into SEO and social efforts.
  • Social grows, by leaps and bounds, every day. Today, there are multiple social platforms with more than 100 million users. These channels have become not only important places for brands to be present, but pivotal pieces of many search, public relations/media relations and content marketing campaigns.
  • Content marketing has gone from a sideshow to a central piece. Whether distributed by search, feeds, social or other channels, content is the bedrock. In a new world of empowered buyers and online research, content is often driving prospective purchasers to make buying decisions before ever talking to a salesperson.

So, What Does This Mean for Agencies?

Agile, hybrid agencies that understand how to harness the combined might of these channels will win. Meanwhile, agencies that still push only one channel, while ignoring the others, will be left behind. To survive in our hybrid world, agencies have to adopt some new behaviors:

Measure Holistically

Marketers need a new set of metrics, combining web, customer, search rankings, social media and traditional PR analytics. Try to answer important questions like:

  • What sort of social distribution does your content receive? How did that grow your social reach?
  • How many links did your PR efforts generate? How did these affect your search rankings?
  • Most importantly, how do all of these efforts roll up together to build your client’s brand, and generate leads and sales?

Cross-Train Your Team

It’s not enough to just be a “PR person” or “SEO person” anymore. Now, everyone must be a marketer, with a healthy mix of tech savvy, measurement and data fluency. 

While individuals can specialize in different areas, full-stack marketers are the key to successful campaigns in today’s converged marketing landscape.

Cross-train your staff. Make sure:

  • Outreach and media relations specialists understand how their work can affect SEO, and content creators understand search and social. 
  • Everyone knows how to measure what they’re doing, and ultimately tie their work back to client revenue.

Avoid “Old Country Buffet” Syndrome in Pricing and Packaging

Your agency is not the Old Country Buffet. It’s hard to deliver great results when working with only one tactic. Develop service offerings that give you enough leverage across multiple channels to win on behalf of your clients. 

Agencies that fail to embrace hybrid models will rapidly find themselves becoming less relevant with each passing day. The integration of services is here to stay.

What are your thoughts on the integration of search, social, PR and content? The comments are yours.