Joining the Dots – PR, Social & Search in Perfect Harmony – SASCon Mini 2014

Pushonltd Pushonltd | January 16th 2014

SAScon Mini 2014

Joining the Dots – PR, Social & Search in Perfect Harmony

+   Andy Barr – Visionary, 10 Yetis

+   Robin Wilson – Director Digital and PR and Social Media, McCann Erickson

+   Rob Weatherhead – MediaCom i-Lab

Simon Wharton (Chair) – Push ON 

Andy has been asked if SEO agencies are approaching him to work with his agency. He has spoken about the fact that they are coming to him and they are asking after authorititive link building.

Pr’s are responsibly, for the most part, of managing the reputation or Brands. However now Google is becoming the first point of call to find out about brands, PR’s and SEO’s are having to do pretty much the same thing. They must both control the message put out through Google.

Rob has stated that even though PR and SEO agencies are doing very similar things now, PR’s tend to not care if the outcome of the content creation gains a link. Simon responded and asked if PR’s should be learning from SEO’s and using some of the metrics that SEO’s use to measure success. Rob believes they should, however some aren’t.

Traditionally SEO’s are measured on how many links they have gained, where a PR is measured on how their work has effected the view people have of a company. However a mind set change is needed so that SEO’s move more towards what PR’s are measured on, and vice versa.

Moving forward SEO’s are splitting in to two specialist skill sets. The first is the original technical side of things, however a new skill set is now more towards what PR’s have traditionally done, concentrating on content creation and outreach.

True digital agencies are merging all three disciplines together, as they are all linked now, and creating a new breed of PR/SEO/Social practitioner.

Certainly all disciplines should be talking to one another so as to not negatively impact one another.

However conflicts can occur when agency clients do not wish to have the teams working together, and issue conflicting objectives.

SEO’s now have a duty of care to monitor brand reputation to make sure their work is not hurting them.


Moving on a question has been asked if PR’s or SEO’s own “social”. Or does it exist in it’s own right. One point of view is that social media should run through all aspects, and whoever deals with the social media of a Brand needs to have a broad skill set and straddle both sides of the fence. Eventually the three teams may merge, however that is far in the future and it is more likely to happen between Social and PR, than Social and SEO.


Another point of view is that Social is an entity in it’s own right as it’s so new. SEO and PR are rather long in the tooth now, and may end up merging together due to the crossovers. However Social is still standing apart from both, and a more natural fit would be for SEO and PR to merge.


The majority of the room would classify themselves as SEO, with around 40 evenly split between PR and Social. One comment from the room is that it is naive to say you can put yourself in a silo unless you understand exactly what SEO, Social and PR are actually doing right now.

One of the speakers has said they are actively looking to recruit people with PR skills, as he believes that traditional SEO people lack the skills needed to be successful at PR style work (outreach, content creation at a writing and execution level). PR agencies in the audience have also said they are trying to recruit people with SEO skills now.


Apart from a few, most universities don’t teach SEO skills as part of a PR course, nor PR as part of an SEO course. Rob believes more cross training needs to happen at a grassroots level. One of the speakers believes that another great skill to include is customer service skills and complaint handling.


Agencies and Brands to check out who are doing things well at the moment and you should check out, according to the speakers are, PR Agency One. Kazoo. Umph. IHG (Holiday Inn and Hotel Indigo). (I will add links in later to these sites).


Q. Which is most important?
A. All of them, and I know that’s a crap answer.

A2. Content, as all of those areas need content


Q. All three disciplines touch on content. Are there any other places that all three touch, and will bicker over in the future?

A. Content is an important one, but it serves all three in a different way. After that it will be customer service.

Q. What do you guys think the future is going to look like? Are we going to continue to fight over the skill set of individuals, or will there be an amalgamation.

A. An Amalgamation. Agencies will grow into their areas of speciality, and will then look to branch out in to the other disciplines.

A2. SEo’s will be better at PR. PR’s will be better at SEO’s, and clients will chose if they want separate agencies or have everything under one roof.

A3. It’ll come down to who gets the smartest person. Whoever it is will be someone great at telling stories and engaging with people in the right way.


Q. As an SEo agency, how would you approach a PR agency to work together to get the most from them?

A. I would be working with them on ideas and campaign, adding an SEO angle, not thinking about what I could get from them.

A2. If you’re not working with a PR agency who doesn’t want to talk to you, then the client is with the wrong PR agency.