Behind Digital PR » digital PR Thoughts from Hill & Knowlton's Australasian Digital Practice head, Matt Overington. Mon, 16 Feb 2009 06:16:00 +0000 en hourly 1 Specialised search optimisation and the move back to PR Thu, 13 Nov 2008 23:47:00 +0000 Matt Overington OK, so this is anecdotal, but I’d like your help in either confirming or debunking my theory that SEO is moving squarely back into the digital PR fold. I’m not just saying this because I’m a digital PR guy, but based on an observation: I have been having a very busy time of late fielding a lot of questions about SEO and SEM.
In this ultra-competitive time, clients and marketers are looking to boost their search rankings as a way to get a leg-up on their competition, which is nothing new. The whole SEO arena has changed greatly over time: the advertising companies have had a go at getting it right, then search specialists started to pop up and offer advice built on their technical knowledge of how search engines work…
Search and web optimisation is something that I’ve felt for a long time
should draw on the expertise of the PR industry as it
requires detailed knowledge of customer motivations and what people
type into search engines. In order to get your SEO right, you first
have to get yourself into the head of your target audience and
anticipate what they’re going to type into their search queries. If you’re relying on a search-optimisation company, you’re missing the
other key part of the process, which is encouraging people to search
for your terms in the first place.
The real power of SEO comes not just from getting the content right online and building a website correctly, but also driving your consumers and potential customers to use your keywords when they search. The best way to do this is to ensure that all your communications – both online and offline – make extensive use of the terms that you want to “own”. This integrated approach ensures that any time and effort spent on SEO is rewarded through an increase in the number of people searching for the terms you’ve focused on.
Though the basic tenets of SEO are relatively straightforward (to the point that Google has released a guide that talks through the basic procedures and how-to’s), getting the keywords right and making an effort to “own” particular terms requires a bit of forward planning, research and integration with broader messaging. In that respect, natural results and paid search results are remarkably similar – you have to work it into your communications strategy, not your advertising strategy.
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Google begins commoditisation of web marketing? Thu, 28 Aug 2008 03:28:00 +0000 Matt Overington Google has launched an interesting tool called to help small to medium businesses develop an online marketing plan (thanks go to James Tuckerman for alerting me to this). The tool is built around a 10-step process to help users identify opportunities for their business and culminates in producing an automatically-generated marketing plan.

After spending a fair bit of time playing with the tool over the past couple of days, I’ve concluded that it’s designed to encourage businesses to sign up for Google AdWords. The tool focuses on stepping the user through how search marketing works and helps select keywords. The final output is a slick, 12-page PDF document that can be taken to managers to feed into a broader marketing plan. It’s elegant, and does a good job of demystifying the world of paid search and measurement (though one negative point is the potential for a user to think that AdWords is the be-all and end-all of “online marketing”).

This news comes as Red Herring today reports that Google has changes planned for AdWords that could boost the number of paid ads delivered per search.

Google’s advertising delivers the majority of its revenue (US$16.4 billion in 2007), so driving awareness and adoption is an obvious strategy for growing business and revenue.

From a digital PR perspective, the timing is perfect. If used properly, Google’s tool will help grow awareness of the opportunities surrounding digital marketing and break down some barriers to adoption. This should help open the door to conversations around what opportunities exist above and beyond Google AdWords, while reinforcing the measurability of online PR. Great work, Google!

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A rose by any other name… Thu, 12 Jun 2008 05:42:00 +0000 Matt Overington I came across an interesting article by Gerry McCusker last week on business attitudes towards the term “Social Media”.

Gerry’s opinion is that as social media has long been associated with sites like Facebook, Youtube and Myspace, there’s a danger that corporates tend to view social media as a leisure activity and not an avenue for telling a story or communicating with consumers.

He points out that once a client has been involved with a successful campaign and the benefits speak for themselves, that a client will “get it”.

He goes on to suggest that pitching social media engagement as something else, possibly “Network Media”, “Peer Media”, or “Influencer Relations” might enable PR agencies and other advisors to overcome C-suite resistance.

This is something we’ve been thinking a lot about as well, and while case studies do indeed help break down the resistance to getting started with online activity, we’re resisting calling online outreach “social media engagement” and instead think of it as targeted stakeholder engagement. 

This mental shift helps position the internet as a strong, powerful communications tool, and not just a place to while away hours sending pictures to friends (though, of course, we love the internet’s capacity for that too).

One added benefit clients are obviously appreciating is the detailed and accurate measurement of engagement offered online: something that’s a little harder to measure in an offline world (or harder for some to fully understand or connect directly back to a behaviour change). With that in mind, why not push the measurability angle to describe our activities online?

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May you live in interesting times Fri, 06 Jun 2008 01:25:00 +0000 Matt Overington Hello everyone.

By way of introduction, my name is Matt and I am a bit of a geek. Quite a bit of a geek, as it turns out. From borrowing my Dad’s modem in the 80s to connect to bulletin boards through to getting involved with Twitter, I’ve always been fascinated by the capacity for technology to shrink the world.

It’s no secret that we’re living in a remarkable age. We’re witnessing the democratisation of media and are faced with a constant onslaught of new tools to help us – as human beings – keep in contact with each other.

In terms of social change, I strongly feel that history will look back on the current era as just as revolutionary as the invention of the press in the 15th century AD. It’s wonderful to be a part of it.

This blog will track trends and exciting developments in digital communications and attempt to add some analysis of what it means for the world of PR.

I welcome your comments and, of course, collective conversation.

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