Coming from both a programming and public relations background (odd mix I know
I tend to get really annoyed with PR Firms that think they can just
jump right into online marketing by adding it as a "piece of our
services", when they really have no idea what goes into an online
marketing strategy. They see blogs as another place to send their press
release, they see Facebook and MySpace as just another place to get an
ad or message slapped on a web page. They think that because that new
hire right out of college has over 100 friends, they know how to work a
social networking campaign. They think it's something "so easy" and
"fast". That's where they go wrong.
So what do you look for
when a public relations company who claims that blogging, social media
and online marketing is their specialty?
- Is Their Website All In Flash? Is It Image Heavy? Does the Site Work?
their website is all in flash, and they do not offer an html version of
their website, then you know this isn't a serious area of practice for
them. They only flirt with online marketing, because if they truly
understood online marketing, they'd understand that entirely flash
sites have difficulties with the search engines. Same applies to image heavy
sites. If the keywords are embedded in images and those images don't
have alt text, you might want to rethink using this company for
optimizing or marketing your site online.
Does their own site
work properly? You may think this is a really silly question, but walk
through their site. Is it easy to navigate; do they have unique title
tags; are there broken links? Do things look "right"? If their own
house isn't in order, how can you expect them to make sure yours is?
- Is Their Website Comprised with Fluff?
it all about the awards and honors they won? Is it about the client names in their portfolio? Is there anything of
substance? Are you immediately greeted with the fact they won 5
awards? It's very typical of most PR firms to tout the awards they won,
over results they gain for their clients. They spin the fact they won
an award for a PR campaign that was OFFLINE, not online and try to turn
that into you thinking that will help your campaign.
- Do They Have a Company Blog?
they don't even run a blog for their own company, how in the world do
they REALLY know what goes on in the blogosphere? Don't let them snow
you with buzz terms like 'technorati', 'feeds', 'rss', 'web 2.0',
'subscriptions', 'widgets'. Unless they can point to their own blog
and the successes they've had with it, how can you truly expect them to
know what they are doing with your blogging initiatives?
- Success Stories - Real Live Success Stories
them what their success stories are. Ask for references; ask for
statistics; and ask to speak to those clients. Again, don't just
believe the hype, go out and do the research yourself. Armed with the
company name, a search engine and a few other tools like Alexa, Yahoo
Site Explorer, Technorati, and the ability to look at social media
sites, you can really get a feel for just how successful (and truthful)
the success story is.
I've got many friends in
public relations that truly know they aren't equipped to handle online
PR strategies. They know that the offline world of PR and the
strategies they use handling crisis or promoting clients just doesn't
translate well to the online world. It's why these PR strategists work
with online marketers to do what's best for their clients. If the PR
company does truly know online marketing, you might be waiting in line
for their services, as undoubtedly, everyone will want their
When it comes to looking at
online marketers for PR related issues, be just as careful. Do your
research! Not all online marketers understand and know Public
Relations. As with any company you deal with - do your homework
before you sign on the dotted line.
January 30, 2008
Liana "Li" Evans is the director of internet marketing at KeyRelevance Search Engine Marketing. She oversees all social media, online PR and word-of-mouth marketing efforts for a variety of clients within the company’s portfolio. Li also collaborates with the team on all SEO (Natural Search) optimization for clients. Since 1999 Liana has been active in the search marketing arena, becoming well versed in all avenues of search marketing but with particular focus on natural search, image search, and social media. She also has substantial experience in areas of the retail industry regulated by the FTC. Prior to Li’s tenure at KeyRelevance Search Engine Marketing, she helped to design, plan, and implement an Internet Retailer 500 company’s efforts into natural search optimization, successfully revamping outdated navigation and site architecture. Li is an accomplished programmer and database programmer/designer familiar with the demands of large-scale, dynamic retail sites.
Liana holds a B.A. in Information Systems with a minor in Public Relations from Susquehanna University, and an Associates Degree in Mass Communications/Public Relations from Pennsylvania College of Technology. She currently lives in the Philadelphia suburb of Limerick, PA and runs the search marketing blog Search Marketing Gurus.