An old saying goes like this: “If you don’t know where you’re going, every road will lead you there.” There is an alternative version of this saying: “If you think you know where you’re going, the road you’re on just might get you there.” In this blog post, we’ll take a look at establishing a strong SEO and digital PR strategy.

Both phrases characterize PR efforts when it comes to setting strategy. Most of us have been guilty of a “ready, shoot, aim” approach to marketing communications and PR in the past. More often than not, that sense of urgency we feel during the tactical phase of a rushed campaign is evident. It is being driven by the feeling that we have to pre-empt a sudden shift in the competitive market environment.

For example, let’s say the latest industry scuttlebutt is that your main competitor will release a head-to-head category killer competitive product next month. So, with panic mode setting in, you skimp on planning and rush up the launch of your product to address this sense of urgency. Before you know it, you’re only considering “mission critical” campaign components. And skipping important planning details isn’t part of an SEO and digital PR strategy.

What Is Your Strategy?

In other words, instead of spending time developing a viable competitive approach, your strategy simply becomes “go fast.”

Put another way, if the direction you’re heading in your PR efforts (aka your Strategy) is built on misinformation, you’re just going to get to the wrong destination a lot faster. How will you know this is happening? If key influencers, such as industry editors or bloggers, are not responding to your pitch emails or press releases, something is amiss. This means something is not resonating with your audience. And chances are you won’t have a strong sense of what that something is.

Too often, this uncertainty happens because, while in panic mode, you missed a key important step. You likely skipped performing competitive research. This is an essential step in being confident your messaging has a compelling edge or appeal.

Velocity is defined as speed in a particular direction.

But as I’ve zeroed in on in previous blog posts and podcasts, Speed is not necessarily your friend when it comes to SEO and a digital PR strategy. (Velocity is your friend — see this blog post.) Especially when the reality is that the road you’re taking might just possibly get you where you’re hoping to go. Maybe. Hopefully.

There is another way to recognize you’re off-strategy, especially once you’re in the tactical/implementation phase. Check to see if your social media posts or blogs are getting low levels of comments or shares. Content that doesn’t have any impact is rampant. It’s like the tree that falls in the forest when there’s nobody around … does it make a sound?

SEO and Digital PR Strategy: How to Head in the Right Direction

When it comes to digital PR, you must have a strategy that you feel confident will resonate with your audience. But this is so often not the case that it bears repeating. And it’s in this type of strategic planning environment where the concept of Velocity versus Speed really comes to light.

To illustrate, think of how we navigated from point A to B before the days of GPS and mobile apps like Waze and Google Maps. Navigation was handled via map printouts from services like MapQuest. These early Web 2.0 services allowed you to visualize a basic route from point to point.

But, as the saying goes, the map is not the territory. This became crystal clear when we encountered the unexpected traffic jam during the journey.

Mobile apps and GPS made digital mapping “smart.” The apps analyze traffic patterns and recommend the shortest route based on real-time analysis of traffic. When traffic clogged up on a street or road, et voila, the map app will direct you to another path that is clearer and faster.

The Solution: SEO and Digital PR

Digital PR versus Traditional PR

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) offers a great baseline for addressing this problem. When most people hear “SEO,” they tend to think of keyword optimization. This will help you rank higher in search. And to be certain, this is one of the key benefits that SEO brings to the marcom mix.

But SEO has equally strong benefits when it comes to setting a PR strategy. Using a service such as SEMRushMozSpyFu or Ahrefs, you can now diagnose the dynamics of the competitive market environment. With this in place, you can identify where the clogs are and steer clear through alternate keyword or content approach strategies.

Back to the map analogy. SEO processes such as backlink analysis and development and keyword analysis are like the dynamic traffic features in a digital map app. They give you real-time insights into the conditions of the market. With this, you can think about how to understand the market from a positioning perspective. This relates to how your customers, potential customers, and competitors are talking about the sector. From this, you can determine where the points of opportunity are, as well as the areas to avoid.

Using Keyword Analysis

By analyzing sector trends using keyword research, you can identify where the clogged or cluttered thematic areas are and steer clear of those. Just like in driving, getting stuck in content clutter is only going to slow you down in your goal to reach your communications objectives.

For example, take a tool like It will identify actual relevant keyword search phrases being submitted. By analyzing these actual queries, you’re going to gain a much clearer understanding of how those that influence your position in the market — customers and potential customers — are acting and thinking about the space.

So, in summary, don’t just think of SEO and Digital PR as separate disciplines. Combine them to form a tactical approach to your visibility and rank-ability in search. Look deeper and from a higher strategic contextual point of view at the data you get. Then, you’ll be able to gather key insights into how to successfully maneuver in and around the competitive environment.

Bill Threlkeld
Threlkeld Communications, Inc.

Bill Threlkeld is president of Threlkeld Communications, Inc., a digital PR consultancy based in Santa Monica, California. Threlkeld Communications, Inc. specializes in Digital PR strategy and tactics, with a focus on integrated content campaigns. This approach to Digital PR is known as the Content Distribution Ecosystem, a unique content approach that synchronizes and integrates PR, Social Media, Blogs, Audio, Video, Email Marketing and other content.

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