Is Public Relations and SEO the Same Thing?

Most Public Relations depts work very closely with their in-house Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) team.

They both make a living from online marketing, they both liaise with other editors, they both write realms of content and then they both promote that content.

Because SEO is a comparatively new entity and PR depts have slowly moved into the online market, it has become much harder to distinguish a difference between the two trades. And during conversations many PR and SEO professionals have wondered that despite their different work titles; are they actually doing the same job.

Points of Difference between PR and SEO

Although there are similarities between many Public Relations and Search Engine Optimisation teams; there are also enough differences to ensure that the two teams in an agency remain separate. In many cases, one team cannot do the job asked of it by the other. A few examples are listed below:

Data Analytics – Most SEO teams spend a lion’s share of their time analysing data and tracking the keywords that they have identified as important for their specific campaigns. This is a task that a PR team makes a point of avoiding. The Search Engine Optimisation dept focuses on search engine statistics and keyword research. They are always on the lookout for new ways to enhance the optimisation of their websites.

Offline Communication – On the other hand PR professionals are more likely to communicate offline, which is something that is rarely done by a SEO team. Public Relations require outgoing individuals who can think on their feet. Face to face communication is a major requirement of a PR department.

Creating Content – The way that most PR and SEO teams create their content is also very different. Although both roles require content to be written that engages their readers, the Search Engine team have to write a large number of pieces that are on average 500 words long. The Public Relations dept on the other hand write much longer articles but less frequently.

The difference might not seem that much; but they are important differences between the two trades. The three points raised above take up a large proportion of each working day for both the PR and SEO depts. And, because of this, they actually complement each other very nicely within an agency.

Why PR and SEO Departments Work Well Together

Despite the differences raised so far between the two depts concerning marketing, there is still some overlap when comparing the different roles. Below I have listed areas where most Public Relations and Optimisation departments perfectly complement one another:

Firstly, the two departments have their own specific contacts and relationships. A PR team would have much more authoritative relationships in the media industry, enabling them to work with the SEO dept to gain back-links from otherwise unattainable sources. In return, a Search Engine Optimisation team can advise Public Relations on which keywords to focus on and best practices to employ when writing content for online publications.

Secondly, both departments are responsible for producing content that will appear on an agency website as well as their client’s. The PR team would produce high quality copy that captures the public’s imagination portraying a theme or subject whilst the SEO professionals would write a large volume of content that is used for link building and keyword optimisation.

Finally, most Public Relations departments would be advised how their content is performing in terms of ‘click through rate’ and ‘return on investment’ by the data analysis from the Search Engine team. This will enable the PR team to identify avenues that can be exploited to further their marketing goals. Similarly, PR can keep SEO up to date with the latest fads and trends to help them write relevant and up to date content.