How to empirically measure the value of public relations is a challenge as old as the profession itself. The rise of social media offers exciting new opportunities on this front. Last week one of my clients achieved validation of our hard work over the past few months. They now show up as the #2 organic return when searching on Google.
Let me give some context. Earlier this year we helped launch and support a blog for TANDBERG Public Sector. TANDBERG is the market leader for video conferencing, particularly in the public sector. But Cisco and Polycom have better known brands. TANDBERG engaged with Strategic Communications Group to build awareness and eventually support revenue growth via social media channels.
Week in and week out, we make sure that good, fresh content is published twice a month on the blog. As any writer will tell you, this takes discipline. There are always urgent PR issues that can trump a blog calendar, but TANDBERG kept its eye on the ball and stuck to the plan. They also gave us clear instruction to tag the content with the acronym VTC for video teleconferencing, since it was best known to their customers and prospects.
So today, when you search “VTC and government” on Google, you get this result, with the TANDBERG PS blog being the second organic listing on the search engine response page (naturally, another acronym, SERP). And as important, not a sign of any competitor:
Now there are some “black hat” consultants who promise to tinker with algorithms and game the system to achieve this kind of result. In my experience, there is no substitute for old fashioned hard work. Months of quality content and consistent tagging and promotion resulted in this placement. Plus, online shoppers and researchers put more trust in the organic results as opposed to the sponsored links.
This kind of placement can be priceless. First, your content being highlighted to any online visitor who searches on the terms you’ve identified as most important to your service. Second, this kind of organic listing can remove the need for funds dedicated to sponsored Adwords. We’ve got clients who spend into the six figures on such campaigns — how much could they save with this kind of organic performance?
So what are the lessons learned? First, as with any social media campaign have a strategy that reinforces the overall objectives of the organization. Don’t confuse tools with strategy.
Second, identify the terms connected with your product or service, and produce quality content on a regular basis that is properly tagged and promoted to online audiences.
Third — STICK WITH IT! This honestly is the toughest step, especially in this age of trimmed communications budgets and departments. Don’t let the day to day imperatives distract from a approved course of action. Companies today should think of themselves as publishers on their issue of expertise, with the corresponding deadlines for copy.
Now that we’ve built a large audience and achieved this kind of SEO success, Strategic is working with TANDBERG to evolve their blog into a social portal that gives visitors more choice in how to interact with the company. Watch for an update to this post – and have a great Thanksgiving!
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