I attended my first session of the day at Search Engine Strategies (SES) San Jose in order to learn more about bad PR as it relates to SEO. Oops, no search discussed here.
The session was titled, “Public Relations Train Wrecks in the Interactive Biz: Disaster Can Be Avoided!” I assumed we’d hear about how things like the Microsoft/Edelman PR Blooper. I figured it would address how search results can haunt a company like Walmart, that handles their PR badly. I thought it may be at least peripherally about how bad PR search results are persistent due to bloggers linking to results using the company name.
The session description says,
“Interactive marketers know that public relations and marketing are hopelessly intertwined. Yet many in the interactive space do not understand how to develop a successful relationship with key publishers. Don’t just issue a release and hope for the best. Learn the difference between productive efficient contact and annoying drivel. This unprecedented and candid discussion with today’s top interactive marketing editors will reveal train wrecks (no names please) and best practices for you.
I chose to attend this session thinking, since this is a search conference, that it would have to do with search. I guess I’m going to have to carefully read session descriptions to be sure they aren’t talking about things that have little to do with search. Hmmm.
Rebecca Lieb of ClickZ, (sister site to SEW under Incisive Media ownership) and Brad Berens of Imedia Connection (I’m not sure whether to be embarrassed that I haven’t heard of them) were the only panelists introduced by moderator Kevin Ryan (of Incisive media). The two panelists sounded as though their days are spent under a constant flurry of bad press releases, follow-up emails, and pitches from PR firms, followed by endless phone calls from annoying publicists. The session description might have been accurate, but what does this have to do with search?
Don’t get me wrong and think that I’m suggesting that this wasn’t a good presentation by some worthwhile panelists on an interesting topic – but I spent a good deal of my time waiting to hear the relevance to search. It never came.
Both Berens and Lieb strongly emphasized how important it is for PR representatives to “Know thy Editor” and to know the Audience of the publications they seek coverage from – that they not “waste” the time of editors (and publications) that have little to do with the topic being pitched to them.
Were Berens and Lieb told they were speaking at a search conference? Do they know the audience at SES is made up of SEO’s and SEM’s? “Know thy audience” might be suggested to speakers at search conferences. The session was sparsely attended, but if PR reps are lacking at a search conference – I hardly find that unexpected. Perhaps if that description were changed a bit to include a bit more SEARCH relevance, and the speakers covered a topic expected at a SEARCH conference – or even skewed this topic toward search topics, the attendance might increase just a bit.
Mike Valentine is an SEO Specialist offering occassional commentary on Search Engine Developments through his Reality SEO Blog and developed WebSite101 Small Business Ecommerce Tutorial in 1999 to help educate the little guy to the intricacies of online business.