Public Relations and Content Marketing Masterclass: PR for SEO
Jeff Coyle of MarketMuse and Kris Ruby of Ruby Media Group
Learn the secret to optimizing earned media and publicity in your content marketing strategy!
Publicity and media coverage can skyrocket earned media results when prospects search for your business online. It is a well-known industry secret that media logos on your website can increase conversion rates and build trust with your target audience. While pitching and securing media coverage is often a critical component of a content marketing strategy, earned media promotion is often an after-thought, which can be problematic for your Content Marketing Strategy.
Watch the PR and Content Marketing SEO webinar with Public Relations maven Kris Ruby, CEO of New York based PR Agency Ruby Media Group, and learn how to maximize the impact of your press and media coverage.
— MarketMuse (@MarketMuseCo) October 23, 2020
In this content marketing webinar with Ruby Media Group and MarketMuse, you will learn:
- The top 10 mistakes to avoid when promoting media coverage and why these mistakes can hurt your content marketing strategy and tank your rankings (plus: how to fix it with actionable solutions)
- How to enhance the longevity of earned media coverage for organic media exposure to ensure long-term domain impact of earned media
- How to incorporate press mentions into your content strategy to amplify your content
- The secret behind unused media interview answers to propel your content marketing strategy forward
- PR best practices for content marketing: avoid these mistakes
- How to create long-form content out of media coverage topics and podcast interviews
- Technical SEO: should it be part of your PR strategy? (YES!)
Leverage PR to Enhance Your Content Marketing Strategy: how content marketing and public relations go together.
Over the course of her career in media consulting, Kris Ruby noticed an issue: press mentions are often dumped on client websites with a two-line description, a photo, and not much else. And to make matters worse? Most of the press mentions were about the subject matter expert instead of focusing on the topic of the interview. When PR mentions are posted on your website with no strategy (and as an afterthought!), it can result in thin and duplicate content, lower rankings, and a poor user experience.
Many digital marketing agencies treat public relations and content marketing as two separate divisions that do not overlap. This article will explain why that is a mistake and why you are potentially missing out on an opportunity for new content creation (and rankings!) with an integrated approach to PR, SEO, and Content Marketing. Focusing on content marketing in a silo while ignoring your PR strategy and how press coverage is promoted on your website is a mistake.
This article is for:
- Brand Managers
- Content Marketers
- SEOs (off-page SEO)
WATCH: Content Strategy Webinar
SEO and PR: How to leverage your publicity content and media interviews for better rankings
How to leverage Publicity coverage for organic ranking on SERPS
Not all press has value, but consistent press does.
PR is authority marketing. The product Ruby Media Group sells is personal branding authority building for subject matter experts.
Not all marketing is only to drive sales. A lot of marketing is to drive trust.
The PR content marketing mistake you are making: relying on the press hit to add value when the press hit is only valuable in a greater context.
Press is a validator of the larger point you are trying to make. The press is not the validator, the narrative on the topic you are speaking about is the validator because that is where you have the opportunity to control the conversation. This is how you turn earned media into owned media and dominate organic SERPs.
The short-term value is that people view it, which creates a mental note of authority. The long-term value is how you can spin that (or if you can spin it) to add value to your personal branding or business branding. You are very rarely going to find a PR opportunity that fits nicely in both buckets.
HOW PR INFLUENCES SEO: Optimizing your PR and SEO strategy for success
How Do PR and SEO Work Together?
Digital PR and SEO: What is digital PR and how can it improve your SEO campaign?
Digital PR is the process of creating online brand mentions for your company, product, or service in different media channels. Digital PR can result in follow and/or no-follow links as part of your SEO campaign, which can impact organic search engine ranking results on Google. Digital PR can have a tremendous impact on the success of your search engine optimization campaign if you secure publicity interviews around the topics and keywords you are looking to rank for in high authority and trusted media outlets on digital platforms. Although it is widely debated in the SEO community, backlinks are still an important component of any SEO campaign.
Public relations professionals secure backlinks on a monthly basis for their clients, although that is usually never the primary reason they are hired. A PR firm is hired to get press and media exposure for their client, but in the process, they end up securing tons of backlinks in the process. PR firms can be your secret weapon to success if you want to improve your SEO campaign. But that starts with PRs and SEOs communicating and understanding how they each add value to the larger digital marketing strategy. Digital PR can’t and won’t improve your SEO campaign if the PR agency and the SEO firm don’t talk to each other.
Why should you use digital PR in your SEO strategy?
Virtually every component of what a publicist does has tremendous overlap with what SEO professionals and link builders do. The problem is, most of them don’t know it or haven’t invested in SEO training to realize it. If you are serious about improving your SEO strategy, it is foolish not to use digital PR tactics, because you are leaving backlink opportunities on the table. SEO can only take you so far if it doesn’t include getting other people talking about your brand and improving your online reputation. This is a critical component of E-A-T, and an area that is best equipped by PR professionals (and not an SEO professional) in my opinion.
PR’s are trained in understanding how to get people talking about your brand. To not leverage their skillset in this area is a big mistake. Their job is to literally get people talking about your company for a living. One area where PR’s can’t and won’t be helpful is the technical SEO component of things. But off-page SEO? Leverage a PR agency for that because this is really what they are best at. Who knew that I was doing off-page SEO for *years*? Not me! Only did I recently discover this when I pulled up the backlink profiles of clients who have hundreds of links from national media outlets. PR firms are building SEO for clients without even realizing it. This is why the more education and knowledge they have, the better they can help you and improve your SEO strategy.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) PR?
Search engine optimization PR is the process of making you look good on Google through organic rankings in earned media channels. This is what our company specializes in. How can we make your business look good not only on the first few pages of Google but also on the news section and image section. This hard task is accomplished through rigorous public relations outreach to newspapers, podcasters, and national media outlets.
PR FOR SEO TIPS
CHALLENGE: How do you make unstructured content (like podcast transcriptions and press mentions) structured for maximum SEO value?
What is the topic you want to build authority on?
When hosting a webinar or guesting on a podcast interview, know what SEO terms you want to rank for *before* the interview and work those keywords into the conversation.
Action Item: What questions are people searching for?
Structure your content around the questions people ask before doing the media interview instead of after.
Most entrepreneurs and corporate executives do podcast interviews and wing it. This is a mistake and a missed opportunity from a content marketing perspective. If you are going to spend an hour of your time to do an interview, why not make the most out of that hour by answering the questions people really have instead of letting the conversation go in twenty different directions?
Use content marketing to control the narrative by creating content around source content (press/media mentions/ publicity).
Action Item: Create a content brief in MarketMuse prior to the media interview. Use the content brief you created as a guide to help structure the interview. This will help to structure the conversation around the topics people want to learn more about on Google. It not only leads to a more structured interview but also to an increased likelihood of ranking in organic search results, too. Plus, your content writer will thank you! It is much easier to optimize for structured content than it is to optimize without a focused keyword prior to the interview.
When building out press pages on your website, think in terms of Q and A rather than in terms of press content.
Ask Yourself: Can my content be so good that I’m going to be the featured rich snippet?
Can I get the rich snippet? Sure, you can, if you build out the most authoritative and comprehensive page on the Internet for that topic. Want to know a secret growth hack that 99 percent of people miss? Leverage PR for SEO tactics when they build out these pages. Which page has a higher E-A-T?
A page of pure text answering a question OR a long-form piece of content with an embed of you as the expert speaking on that topic in a third-party national media outlet?
You can make E-A-T and PR for SEO work for you if you make a concerted effort to marry the two areas together, but this requires rigorous discipline. Building out authoritative content like this requires that public relations and SEO work together in unity to make this happen. This type of epic content will not happen in a silo.
Want to know how people land the coveted featured rich snippet on Google? They start with the end in mind. You can do the same thing with publicity content, too. But a surefire way to never land the rich snippet? Do not prepare for media interviews and never look at ‘People Also Ask’ or the current snippets to see who dominates the results. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. Yes, this pertains to rich snippets, too. You can’t land featured spots if you don’t try to land them. This starts with a structured, methodical, and rigorous approach to PR for SEO. Winging it is NOT the answer.
PR for SEO tip: Use FAQ schema markup.
- Use structured data
- Use schema plugins
- Think in terms of Q & A
PR for SEO tip: You are more likely to capture a rich snippet if you answer the question. Use media interviews as a way to answer the questions people want answers to on Google.
Content should be created that discusses the topics you covered in the press segment.
PR for SEO tip: Use the press opportunity to answer the questions that people are searching for pertaining to the topic. If you want to maximize press coverage, you *must* use this strategy if you are serious about ranking. Learn the language people use around your topic to dominate the SERPs. If you only use industry jargon, you will most likely never rank. Familiarize yourself with what questions people are asking on Quora around your topic.
Control the narrative of the content before the media interview, not after!
Structure and page of content as a Q and A Page. Each section is the q and a.
The press hit itself is a flash in the pan. In the world of news media, there are one hundred hits in a day. None of those have stickiness. Do you know what does have stickiness? Content that converts. Use the media coverage to support the content; not the other way around.
The content should add value to the topic. The media interview should support the authority base and knowledge around the topic. The press hit in itself will not be enough to rank on SERPs. The authoritative content you create before and after the press placement is what will help you rank in organic search results in correlation to the press mentions. Remember, when people are searching on Google, they always want to know, what’s in it for me? When you post a video of yourself on TV, all they see is, what is in it for YOU.
You can flip the script on this by adding value to the user by making the core focus point on the topic you are speaking on, rather than your press mention as the focus. When you do this, you will transform your content marketing strategy and create PR for SEO content that converts users and readers into fans.
In order to rank on organic search results, the press page (individual blog post displaying the media interview) must be built around the questions people are searching for, the topic you are building authority around information gain on that topic in the eyes of Google.
Without these three components, you are simply dumping a photo and video on your website. Furthermore, you are creating hundreds of pages of thin content that adds little value to the user. This hurts your site more than it helps it in the eyes of Google.
Surprisingly, people who do not have press mentions don’t have this issue because they only have long-form content pages on the blog component of their site. To avoid this, if you say yes to a media opportunity and display the media opportunity on your website as a page vs. a logo in a portfolio carousel, be discerning with the topic and make sure you are prepared to build out long-form content that supports your topic cluster if you want to extract SEO value from the press mention.
The million-dollar question:
Should I accept a press interview request if it doesn’t align with my topic cluster?
Agree or disagree: Not every press hit is content-worthy.
Sometimes a quote is just a quote.
If you are offered a press opportunity on a specific topic, ask yourself:
- Does the topic align with the purpose of my business on a scale of 1-10?
Anything below a 7, the next question is:
- Does this align with the purpose of my personal brand? Anything below a 7, consider saying no to the opportunity if you don’t want to build out a rich page of content around it.
Publicity content must provide value.
To extract maximum value out of the opportunities you say yes to, be prepared to provide an additional depth of content in the context of your overall content marketing strategy. Without doing this additional work, you simply have a bunch of media placements that do not tie into topical relevance or authority.
CONTENT MARKETING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS MASTERCLASS
How Do You Develop a PR Strategy? The Missing Step That Can Get You To a Successful Public Relations Campaign.
Jeff Coyle: Today’s discussion focuses on how to drive organic impact with press content, including content that sometimes gets overlooked, certainly underutilized, and is often not a primary focus of content marketers.
Our webinar guest is the CEO of Ruby Media Group. She runs an award-winning public relations agency and is a media relations expert. She is often asked to do public appearances on TV and major broadcasts as a social media marketing expert talking about tech bias, cancel culture, and amazing concepts for digital marketers today. Tell us what Ruby Media Group focuses on and the mission of those efforts.
Kris Ruby: I started Ruby Media Group Inc. over a decade ago primarily offering social media marketing services. Today, we have transitioned to a full-service, traditional PR, and digital public relations and content marketing agency. We work with lawyers, entrepreneurs, doctors, founders, and those in healthcare. We build their personal brands online through a holistic approach to content, personal branding, social media, and public relations services.
Jeff Coyle: Excellent. Before we get started in the discussion about the organic impact of press content, how do you think about that? I notice you often say that your personal brand is your company brand. How does that relate to healthcare and other types of businesses?
Kris Ruby: My approach to getting publicity for a doctor is that no one is necessarily interested in what that practice is doing. First, they are interested in the educational component of what that doctor has to say first and foremost. My media philosophy follows the same core tenants. What can this expert share that is valuable to the audience?
PERSONAL BRANDING AND PR
Digital PR: The missing link in your content marketing website optimization strategy
Before getting media coverage for your practice, you need to build a personal brand around you, the brand, “You Inc.” Our philosophy and approach is that if you build the brand of the doctor, you then build the brand of the practice and not the other way around. That is true for any type of business and vertical outside of healthcare, too.
The person first, the practice second.
Nobody cares about your medical practice. They care about what you can do for them and what problem you can solve to make their pain go away. After all, that is most likely why they are searching for your content on Google or for articles on the topic you are speaking about. It is important to remember why people go to Google in the first place: to find an answer to their problem; whether that means listening to a podcast, downloading an e-book, reading a news article, or consuming your new blog post.
People search for problems before they search for people. To misunderstand this is to fundamentally misunderstand the role of content marketing and how PR can integrate into that.
This is why when people say, “We just did a ribbon cutting! Post a press release about that!” they are misinformed on:
- What is truly newsworthy.
- What people are searching for online.
They do not care about the ribbon-cutting, but they do care if you have new technology that can help solve a medical issue that the doctor around the corner may not have. Furthermore, this is what the media cares about, too.
When you align your content marketing strategy with what potential patients are looking for and with what the media is looking for, that is PR nirvana.
My job as a PR consultant is to get that subject matter expertise onto paper and into the publication that your target audience is reading.
- What do you know that is special that no one else does?
- How can we convey your high-level subject matter expertise on a topic in the news?
- What can you say that no one else can?
- Are you an outlier? Is your opinion vastly different from other industry thought leaders?
That is the type of knowledge transfer that we focus on extracting from the subject matter experts we work with for personal branding campaigns.
The #1 Thing To Consider Before Hiring a PR Agency
Jeff Coyle: From a PR perspective, what can go wrong that people aren’t critically thinking about when they hire a public relations firm?
Kris Ruby: As a baseline, you want to make sure you have the following covered before hiring a New York PR firm, or at a minimum, in the first three months of the engagement. The high-level answer to your question is: focusing on execution and jumping past strategy. If you skip past the fundamental basics of building the foundation of your brand in months 1-3, you run the risk of the agency burning through resources (your hard-earned dollars!) and pitching without the proper media material lined up. It is better to do it right than to start a campaign before you are ready. Most people want to start in month 3 or 4 (the juicy part of pitching the media), but it is a mistake.
If you jump past developing a PR strategy, you will fundamentally hurt the results and the likelihood of success of the campaign. Here is a perfect example of why. One time I was hired to launch a medical PR campaign for a doctor. The physician wanted to make sure we got hits right away in month one before spending the first three months on strategy. We usually start pitching experts to the media in month four after the nuts and bolts of the strategy is finalized and approved by the client. The good news? I secured press coverage for the client *right* away. We are talking about major national media coverage and awesome publicity hits. But six months into the public relations campaign, I noticed an issue. The client mentioned that even though the coverage was great, all of the coverage was on a topic they don’t really want to focus on. I was baffled. How could I miss that? The answer: because we were pitching the client based on their title and expertise in their bio but because they skipped over the PR strategy, they never mentioned that their core focus is actually something outside of their bio, and they wanted to do a rebrand to focus on a very niche area.
This would be impossible for any practitioner to pick up on *unless* they did the strategy work with that client for the first three months. This is why even though it sounds tempting to get someone publicity coverage during the first month, you shouldn’t. It will hurt the long-term strategy of the PR campaign if you start building a brand around something that person no longer wants to be known for. The only way to know this is to put the brakes on the execution and insist that you must do the strategy before you start pitching the media.
Once you are pitched as a subject matter expert, you are pigeonholed into that box by the media. It is very difficult to move between expert titles once the media sees you as an expert in a specific vertical. This is why you should think long and hard about what you truly want to be known for before you are presented to the media. So many people say to me years later that they wish they knew this before they ever worked with a firm because they find it very difficult to rebrand. Had they known this, the original SME title they used would have been broader to leave room for larger commentary, but because they didn’t do that, they now feel stuck and boxed in.
BRAND DISCOVERY QUESTIONS
In the first three months of working with a new PR client, we work to refine the subject matter expert’s personal brand through deep-dive discovery and strategic public relations campaign work.
We answer critical questions such as:
- Do you have media-ready personalities that are available to speak to journalists?
- Are you providing insight with a unique opinion and point of view?
- Does your website convey that you are a key opinion leader on this topic?
- Do you have a personal website in addition to your company website?
- Does the press coverage on Google that you have secured to date convey you are a subject matter expert?
- Are you on the conference circuit?
- Have you refined your talking points to reflect what you want to be known for?
- Does your LinkedIn profile reflect the subject matter expertise you want to be pitched for?
- Do you have an updated media bio that is ready to be distributed to journalists?
- Are you able to fully commit to working with the agency you hired to do the media interviews they secure on your behalf?
- Are you frequently providing subject matter expertise through written, oral, and verbal communication?
- Do you have a presence on YouTube? Can producers see what you look and sound like on video?
If we can’t answer yes to all of the above, we have to create this before pitching a source to the media.
Key Takeaway: We will not pitch someone to the media who doesn’t meet the above criteria because we know we will need to supply all of these media assets for the best chance of success.
How to protect and amplify your personal brand
How you put forth your personal brand and media appearances is equally as important as getting the media coverage. It’s not just getting the media coverage that matters. It is what you do with it and how you use that to build your brand that counts.
Media placements in a silo do not convey authority. Media coverage in a branded package does.
That is where most people go wrong and miss the mark.
DIGITAL PR 101: GETTING STARTED
Developing a PR Strategy for Your Business: Understand that PR should not start on day one. There are steps you need to follow.
Jeff Coyle: That speaks to our mission and certainly has been yours and everything that I consume that you have promoted and published. What do you typically see when you start working with a new PR client getting into digital public relations?
Kris Ruby: The learning curve is steep. The first year is often spent educating a client on how the process works and how the media operates. For example, if someone has never worked with a PR agency before, they may ask, “What happened with the answers I submitted for that query? When do they get published?” We then have to explain that their answers may actually never be used and we are up against 500 other publicists all pitching for the same limited digital ink space. This is challenging for C-Suite executives to understand. If they spend time writing interview answers, they want to know that content is being used. They don’t want to hear that maybe it will be, or maybe it won’t. Unfortunately, that is the nature of PR. In many respects, it is the polar opposite of how almost every other industry operates. Unfortunately, PR is still compared to Advertising, but they work entirely differently.
What is the difference between advertising and PR?
With advertising, if you write copy, it will be used because you are paying for it to be placed. With PR, there is always a chance your interview answers won’t be used, unless you are buying an advertorial or advertising.
You are paying a PR firm to submit your interview answers, but that doesn’t guarantee inclusion or placement. Ultimately, the choice is left to the editor and publication on what will be used, and the PR firm has little to do with that decision. I wish more people understood that.
That being said, there are certain things you can do to maximize the chance that your interview answers will be used and to ensure you will be the quoted expert. This is where our experience of working with the media comes in because we know what they are looking for and work on their timeline. Media relations can be broken into two parts: half of it is the material and pitch itself, the other half is understanding the cadence and nuances of the media.
In media relations and TV booking, time matters.
Thirty seconds in TV time is an eternity between a producer saying yes to you vs. yes to a guest who answered the producer or booker faster.
As a New York PR firm, we are experts at giving the media what they want when they want it and how they want it. We always say we work for the media first and the client second. By doing this, we are actually helping ensure the clients have the best possible chance of success, even though it may not sound that way. If you put your client’s needs above the media’s needs, it is a surefire way to bomb the campaign and hurt the results not only for that client but for every client of the PR agency.
For example, a client may say they can’t get interview answers back to a reporter until 48 hours from now. If you say yes to that, you will definitively lose the placement to someone else who answers faster. This is the cat-mouse struggle of the eternal PR and client-agency relationship and why there is so much pushing involved.
Why You Shouldn’t Be a Pushover: Tips on negotiating with clients
We have to push people beyond their comfort zone to secure media results. This means when they say no, we have to push back to tell them why they need to reconsider. My motto is, turn every no into a yes. Most professional vendor relationships are not structured that way. There is a reason why PR is considered one of the top 10 most stressful industries annually.
Jeff Coyle: What would you say to somebody who doesn’t consider publicity and media coverage as part of their content marketing strategy? What are they missing out on?
Kris Ruby: I would say they are making a mistake that will cost them money in the long run by ignoring it.
How does Public Relations Support Marketing?
There’s an old-school way of approaching traditional PR. Previously, you would hire one traditional PR firm and then hire an SEO firm or also hire a content firm and a marketing firm. This scenario ultimately presents many problems and challenges because all of these teams and agencies need to work together for your business to get the most out of the engagement.
What you do in one place impacts another. Every touchpoint impacts every other area. To not understand this is the greatest mistake in digital PR in the 21st century.
For example, I have a client who is an interventional cardiologist and one of the things he always says to his patients is the legs are the windows to the heart. He’s talking about leg health and the arteries in your legs and how those veins impact the arteries in your heart as well. The blood has to flow to all of those different parts of the body. I think the same is true in content marketing and public relations.
What you are doing in one area impacts how everything else can flow to the other area. It’s not going to be that you make a change in one place and that doesn’t have a ripple effect on every other part of your digital marketing or public relations campaign.
Still doing PR old school?
Listen in as Kris Ruby @RubyMediaGroup talks with @jeffrey_coyle about a new approach to combining PR with content strategy.
Watch the webinar here: https://t.co/vZt7cmDDqz pic.twitter.com/ntoBiTvKer
— MarketMuse (@MarketMuseCo) December 3, 2020
Jeff Coyle: Do you think that is often because they don’t feel like they can measure the results of such a campaign, or is it just that they haven’t even thought about the fact that having four agencies focused on one goal is going to be complicated?
Managing Key Performance Indicators for PR Agencies: KPIs and how to use them to measure success in a public relations campaign.
What Is Digital Media Value? How to Digitally Measure Outcomes and Results: digital public relations and how to measure results.
Kris Ruby: I think it’s the latter of those two options. One of the great things about digital public relations is that you can measure it. There are certainly ways to measure digital PR by looking at an increase in brand lift or brand traffic that a PR hit can secure or even an increase in overall domain authority from start to finish of a public relations campaign. Those are things that the PR agency is ideally thinking about and most of the time, the client may not be thinking about at all.
As an agency, it is our responsibility to know what to measure and how to measure it. The KPIs ultimately depend on us to properly measure output and metrics from the start of the engagement.
Adjusting KPIs is not the same as setting them in the first place.
A surgeon does not let the patient measure how successful surgery was and a PR practitioner shouldn’t either. As a practitioner, it is up to you to dictate proper metrics because you know what to be measuring. If you let a non-expert dictate what to measure, you are actually doing them a great disservice because you are enabling them to measure something that may not truly be indicative of value or success.
For example, if I said to a doctor, I want you to measure my A1C level for diabetes and they said okay, they could miss that my Vitamin B levels were actually the problem and what I really needed was a vitamin B shot. This is why patients don’t dictate treatment to doctors. And yet we find ourselves in a place where so many non-experts hire agencies and start dictating terms on things they truly don’t understand but because they are paying for it and they think it is right.
A client could say, post the article you published on LinkedIn on our website because it is good for SEO and you say ‘okay’! but the truth is, by doing what the client asked you to do, you may actually be hurting their chances of ranking. The proper response to that request by a strategist vs. an order taker would be: I am happy to do that, but just so you know because the article was first on LinkedIn, that is a higher DA site than your own. We can create duplicate content by putting it on your site, but it’s basically a wash and won’t have the same level of SEO value as putting this on your site first. This is an example of using the term “SEO value” even though it’s actually much more complicated than posting an article. If the client truly wants SEO value from the content, it would have been better to run it on the website first before placing it on LinkedIn. So, these are the types of conversations that practitioners need to have, and unfortunately, they do not because they don’t want to lose the client or rock the boat.
I am not afraid to rock the boat. If you are hiring true experts, you should expect pushback. If the expert doesn’t rock the boat, what are you even paying for?
Jeff Coyle: I think you nailed it when you talk about that. You are speaking the language of some of the search engine optimization professionals who are on the webinar on improving overall authority. The ability to be successful with future content about the topics that you covered or you received a press mention on. For someone that is not PR savvy, what do you define as a press hit, and what goes into the public relations process?
What is a press hit?
Kris Ruby: A press hit is another way of saying secured or earned media coverage. What that means is that the public relations agency has pitched you to a journalist or reporter and the pitch was successful in getting you placed in that media outlet resulting in coverage or your brand getting covered or featured. If I say that we secured a press hit for you, we send you a link with your feature quote in a story or article. That is what we refer to as a press hit, media mention, or press coverage.
There are different ways to track publicity mentions with social listening and media monitoring tools, but ultimately it all comes down to the same thing: sending over links to secured media coverage that the PR agency has serviced on your behalf. As a PR agency, we are responsible for servicing incoming media requests and coordinating the media interviews from start to finish. One thing people don’t realize is that a one-line quote can result in thirty emails back and forth and an initial answer that is much longer than one line.
Jeff Coyle: Some of our SEO link builders in the audience are like, oh, that’s what she meant by that. I do that all day, every day. But it’s always great to connect the dots between the way that you see it and the success that you have for clients. When those things manifest as an interview on a major broadcast, what are you typically having as a post mortem for that effort? How are you talking with them about their experience or the success from it? How are you asking them, what do you want to do next or what are those types of processes when you have a successful PR hit and you’re taking stock of how well it went?
Kris Ruby: I never ask them what they want to do next. I tell them what we will do next. But I do not ask them what they want to do next because what they want to do next may not actually be what is right or feasible. This is of course the central difference between a consultant and an order taker. As a practitioner, it is our responsibility to control the pace of the engagement and dictate the course of the prescribed treatment. When we let the client do that, ultimately, the practitioner is failing the client.
A doctor does not ask a patient what medication they want to be on, a doctor tells them the course of antibiotics they will take and dictates the journey and roadmap. PR practitioners must do the same. The second you let the client start dictating that, you are ultimately failing them for the primary reason they hired you in the first place.
The art of client service and the art of the pushback is just as important as the ability to do the work you are hired to do. If you don’t know how to pushback, you will end up doing work that will take your client on a wild goose chase and that is far removed from the results they want and what they hired you to do. You must learn to control the engagement and constantly realign incoming requests to the scope of work. The output should correlate to the agreed-upon measurable goals and the SOW in the contract. It is okay to expand that, but there is a difference between expansion and tangents. Additionally, you (and the client) should always be thinking about: who is the best person to do this task and what is their billable rate? For example, is it the best use of the clients’ money to have me do this vs. someone internally who bills at a lower rate.
When I work with my accountant, that line of thinking is ingrained in me because they set that expectation from the beginning and I understand that if I ask the senior partner to do something it will be different than if I ask a junior paralegal to do something. People should approach incoming agency requests the same way. Not every task requires a senior partner. Someone who is worth their salt will let you know which ones they should do vs. the ones someone else can do for you to help you save money. That is a fundamental part of how I practice. Keeping the client’s resources in mind for billable time is paramount to every decision and task.
Getting back to your original question, I could ask them that and they could say I want to be on Ellen tomorrow or I want to be on The Today Show. In PR, it’s often dangerous to ask those questions because they lead to unrealistic expectations. Additionally, I don’t think the success of a PR campaign can be measured solely by the volume of press placements. That is a road to the bottom that will ultimately not result in a well-rounded PR strategy.
Once that client reaches the pinnacle of PR nirvana (getting placed in tier-1 national media outlets) they will keep wanting more and more and the “more” has to come from something outside of media relations because landing spots on primetime TV won’t happen three times a week and because ultimately, that will not be a fulfilling campaign for a strategist and consultant to work on who is interested in building someone’s digital authority.
A brand cannot only consist of media coverage. A brand that is a household name must be rooted in content that educates and solves people’s problems. PR is the icing on the cake, but it is not and cannot ever be the cake.
If you think it is, that is an ego-based PR strategy and not a people-based PR strategy that makes the world a better place. PR can be used for the greater good if you approach it the right way. Use your voice to help others first and think about the media component second. The people that do that always get the most publicity every time.
Build digital authority in an E-A-T driven digital PR world
Using AI software for content marketing optimization
Kris Ruby: Digital authority is built by content, podcasts, videos, broadcast media, audiograms, social media, press mentions. Traditional media coverage is only one sliver of someone’s overall brand today, and while those primetime TV hits are great ego-bait for short-term satisfaction, they won’t necessarily result in the backlinks someone may be looking for to build their digital authority in an E-A-T driven digital PR world.
The best way to think of it is this: do you want to build your authority online or do you want to build it offline? If the answer is offline, traditional media still reigns supreme, but if the answer is online, traditional media should only be one component of a larger strategy if you really want to move the needle for digital authority and search engine rankings. While we certainly can achieve results in both areas, as a practitioner, it is enjoyable for me to see the metrics that come with increased traffic, Google News search results, and higher domain authority from the public relations work we have done.
Jeff Coyle: It really connects to content strategy because sometimes it’s about the business goals. What is the overall business goal? For example, if you say, I want to own this topic.
- Sometimes it’s about competitive risk.
- Sometimes it’s about getting quick wins or building authority and trust.
When you know what the overall goal is, what you want to do tomorrow may be written for you. It may be clear and that plan may already be built.
When you have success with this type of media and robust content, how do you communicate that this should be a signal that they need to break down the silos of having news and press content? What are the types of things that you often give PR consulting advice on to make their content presence one unique vision and voice?
PR, CONTENT REPURPOSING, AND SEO:
The PR optimization strategy that will improve your search engine rankings
How does PR support content marketing and search engine optimization?
Kris Ruby: I noticed that every time a press placement would come out, I would look at how much of the interview answers were actually used. Let’s say someone writes paragraphs or walls of text for interview answers for a reporter. But then only one line is used out of that in the actual quote that ran in the media outlet. What I realized is that there was a huge opportunity and I believe that ninety-nine percent of most PR’s are leaving this opportunity on the table because they’re just looking at the press hit only, instead of the larger digital strategy which incorporates SEO. If they are hired to secure publicity, they are not going to think beyond the publicity. The thinking is, “we were hired to secure a press placement and we secured a press placement.” This thinking is flawed.
This is where we have a tangible competitive advantage in that we don’t only look at the press placement, we look at the rest of the press answers that were not used to see how that content can be repurposed and used to build the clients digital authority. Leaving that unused content on the table is such a missed opportunity. We keep clients not only because we get them press coverage, but because we are nimble and agile with the raw materials they give us during the publicity process. That is our secret sauce.
In my opinion, all of the work around a press placement can sometimes be worth just as much as the placement itself if you know how to use it and leverage it for maximum exposure. But if you leave all of the unused answers in your inbox, then no one will ever see it, and it ends up being a waste of the client’s time and starts a vicious cycle where they no longer want to spend time answering interview questions if they aren’t used. This is where our new service comes in that we developed.
“Oh, we got that hit. We got the client placed.”
What I started to realize is that it’s very hard to get clients to write this content to begin with. So how could I make the most of that content?
We started to keep track of all of the unused interview answers in a Microsoft Word document. That has become the impetus for a new service that we launched, which is that we can take your publicity content and your unused media answers and turn it into content that helps you increase your domain authority and digital authority online and boost your content marketing library.
I did this with one client and it was a twenty-five-page document in Word. That could be five different e-books that could be used to repurpose for so many different things. The same thing is true with podcast interviews. I was faced with clients that didn’t necessarily want to sit and write content. I couldn’t get them to write it down, but I could get them to do a podcast interview for an hour if I secured the booking.
For every one podcast interview they did, I would have a document of a transcription that was six thousand or seven thousand words.
Why is MarketMuse a valuable resource for AI-powered content creation?
Marketmuse determines semantic relationships. This can be applied to PR content, too!
Jeff Coyle: This is my favorite part of discussions that we’ve had for content marketers and repurposers and people who think critically about content repurposing. If you look at our content strategy webinar series, there’s an amazing one about repurposing that goes hand in hand with some of the things that Kris is speaking about. What are the artifacts that come out of prepping for a major TV broadcast interview? As you said, the interview has thousands of words that can be repurposed into all different types of media. What are some examples of ones that you’ve done? You have thirty-five pages worth of prep and you’ve only got a one-minute spot. What do you do with that and how do you make that content shine?
Kris Ruby: I put everything into that Word document and then what I do is keyword research. I start looking at when I put all of these things together, I can see that this is going to be an article on X, Y, Z, health topic. And then I’m going to look up that topic and see the search volume for that and are people searching for that?
It is also the most powerful tool from a public relations standpoint because that then dictates the future of the content marketing strategy and the PR strategy. I say, I noticed you’re talking about these topics, but people aren’t necessarily searching for those things. It would help me (and you) based on this keyword research if we shift our PR strategy and we pitch you to reporters to talk about this topic instead. This is how to align PR with SEO for a digital-first strategy.
We started leveraging this PR tactic with podcast interviews to create our own content briefs because we found that it was much easier when we’re doing a podcast transcription afterward.
It’s much easier to start with a content brief than to retroactively create a brief out of the interview without having one to begin with.
Jeff Coyle: It’s funny how that works especially when you’re talking to someone who builds content briefs as part of their business. But yet it’s so true just to make sure you don’t have any blind spots and need a reminder. Even subject matter experts are just naturally not going to mention something over the course of this conversation.
We’re naturally going to forget fifteen of the most important concepts that relate to PR and media relations, but we’re not going to know that until the end.
But how can we create better notes and build content if we didn’t get to it when we’re talking? It’s actually going to improve the overall value of the transcription. Just thinking about it that way is so novel.
I think for most people you can actually prepare in such a way that you’ll cover these things in the communique in what feels like a natural conversation.
Make sure you cover those topics and the value of that interview is going to be better for you.
Why SEO, Competitive Intelligence, and AI Need to Be Part of Your PR Optimization Strategy
PR Best Practices for SEO
Kris Ruby: When we talk about topic clusters there is a way to integrate public relations into the clusters if you’re doing it right. So much time is spent planning SEO keywords and content around those clusters on your website but very little time is typically spent thinking about how you can integrate your media interviews into those topic clusters as well and choosing opportunities that align with that. This gets me to MarketMuse and how I discovered one of these lessons by using your platform, which is what I learned on my site when I ran my site through your competitive intelligence platform.
I had all of these press pages that were considered thin content and I couldn’t figure out why. Then I looked and it was because every time I was on air as a pundit or TV commentator, I would post a video of the TV segment. I posted the URL with the same thing, social media expert on Fox News But I had 20 URLs that were all the same URLs and I had hundreds of pages of thin content from media appearances.
Then I started to notice a pattern when I looked at my client sites as well or basically everyone I’ve ever worked with. They all have the same issue, which is that they spent a lot of time creating content on the blog section of their site and very little time building up content around press and media interviews. I’m on a mission to help people change that and to realize that there is a great opportunity to build out content pages with press content.
If you look at the press page of your website right now, I guarantee you there are hundreds of pages of content that could be optimized. People rarely look at that part of their site. They just throw it up there and think I’m done moving on to the next press hit. This is a mistake.
Here is an example of what an optimized press page looks like with the new PR for SEO content strategy:
See the difference?
The page is optimized for the topic vs. the expert.
It is optimized for the keywords around the topic.
The base of the page is the TV interview, but there is a full article around the segment. This is a stark comparison to the above example where it only includes the name and media outlet, and not what the expert (me) was speaking about.
Remember: People are not necessarily searching for you who do not know you. They are searching for the topic you are speaking about. If you want them to discover you, optimize your content around the topic first, and your brand second. This will lead to better search rankings and more robust content.
Jeff Coyle: Rich media optimization is a frontier. It’s been something that we’ve focused on for a long time. I personally have focused on it for well over a decade. It sounds silly, but transcription is only part one. Being able to like you’ve done by annotating those transcriptions and integrating them with the rest of your site, expanding them with content that illustrates what you’re trying to do. Like you said, education is the key for that personal brand.
Jeff Coyle: When you’re looking at the pitch decks and materials you have used, what are some nuggets that you’ve seen that have caused you to say, I need to replicate this with every client? What are the ones that you’ve run into that you might shy away from or mistakes that you see?
Kris Ruby: People learn in different ways. Some people want video content, other people want to read content and other people need to hear content. You need to hit people in all three places with all three components in all of those areas. People make mistakes when they only focus on audio. I’ve done a ton of courses and training every night since the pandemic started.
Some creators have amazing courses, but they only have videos and don’t put transcripts at the bottom and I won’t even watch it because I want to read. I want to be able to copy and paste things into a Word document and that’s how I learn. Think back to college or when people are in school, how do you learn best. I think there’s this problem that people forget about that when they’re actually in the work world, but they spend all this time creating content.
Many course creators create it in the way that they learn best and they forget that other people learn differently than they do.
Jeff Coyle: Absolutely. You’re speaking my language. It’s definitely something that you have to think about. You don’t know your persona as well as you think you do. Just go look at your devices that read your pages, go look at the instances where you have a podcast recording on a page or a video on a page, and do you really feel like everyone’s consuming that in the same way? Well, your analytics will tell you another story.
So that’s an opportunity to appeal to more learners. Not having that content wrapping up and telling the story, maybe not having audio, maybe not having video, maybe not having simpler versions or more in-depth versions. It’s just marketing. You’re not appealing to all stages of the buy cycle. You’re not appealing to all possible personas. I think that’s the biggest new service you told me about that you’re focused on and that’s really exciting. It’s another lens- the lens of PR on what we see all the time, not considering the pipeline, not considering personas, not building content for all user intent profiles. I think that really tells a story that you’re walking through.
Jeff Coyle: When you’ve focused on press mentions into a traditional content strategy, how do you give advice there? Do you say, we want to get at least this many press placements per month? Do you say, here’s a tier-one media mention, here’s a tier two? How do you construct a good press plan that hits the PR goals for a particular client?
Media Relations 101: How to Get Press for Your Company: the basics of media relations.
Kris Ruby: The way that I practice PR is very much dictated by the news cycle. That is also different than a lot of traditional PR practitioners in general, where I think that they do a spray and pray approach where they’ll just pitch or look at what that person has written about previously and then send them pitches. I don’t work that way. There is a difference between proactive versus reactive PR. I like to react to journalists that are already saying I’m writing the story. This drastically increases the likelihood of getting the placement if you are sourcing a journalists’ request vs. pitching an idea they may or may not ever write about.
Do you have an expert? Because then the likelihood of that happening is significantly higher than me coming up with that idea for them and seeing if they’re actually going to write that story. As an agency, we pay a lot of money for different subscription services where we have access not only nationally but internationally as well for what people are working on. That’s also important when we’re talking about PR for SEO and digital-first strategy.
Some people think, if you truly care about increasing your DA, then why do you care if the story is in Europe versus here? A link is a link and domain authority is domain authority. So why does it matter if it’s coming from here or coming from there?
PR FOR SEO: HOW AI IS REVOLUTIONIZING CONTENT MARKETING
AI-powered content creation, judgment calls, and how to choose which media opportunities to respond to
Jeff Coyle: ‘A link is a link.’ It’s not even just that. It’s what content and what topics does that cover and are they relevant to your business? Because a link is not a link. DA is not a real actionable in isolation metric. You need to know where you’re strong, what topics you’re covering, where you have existing strength, where you have an unfair competitive advantage. But if you’re getting links from somewhere that isn’t semantically related and isn’t providing actual connective tissue in value then a number is just a number. It’s not going to help you in the future. I think that’s really poignant.
Kris Ruby: Let me clarify what I mean. When we’re talking about media outlets and links for media outlets with high domain authorities. We’re talking about 60 or 80 plus whether that media outlet is in the US or Europe if the topic is still within your wheelhouse and it’s from a trusted media authority originally, or I think some people say, why do I need to be quoted on my area of expertise in this other geo? What I’m trying to say is, well, why would you not? If it’s within your topic cluster, you should be.
Jeff Coyle: Oh, you’re totally right and one hundred percent correct. If the site is in another geo, it doesn’t matter if they are relevant. You hit that right on the head. It is: why are you thinking about only these types of channels? I think that probably happens a lot.
Kris Ruby: As a result of the proliferation of digital PR, we now have so many more channels to consider. There’s regional press, maybe you’re a local dentist and you just want press coverage within local magazines, newspapers, outlets where your practice is located. And then there’s national media coverage. Maybe you want to be on primetime or a talk show or the 6 pm news. And then there is trade media, which is when you want to be featured in medical trade publications or other dental publications. We break it down and ask people which one do you want to be in out of those three options?
Jeff Coyle: So you’re building tiers by the type of channel. Do they ever say that they only want to be in one of those media channels and then you have to readjust your digital PR strategy?
Kris Ruby: If someone says, I want to be a national TV, we say, we have to start with local first. People don’t just start out at the national media level. The way that I explain it is that it has to snowball. Local and then trade and then national. You need time built into the PR campaign to achieve those results properly. Additionally, if someone only wants to be in one type of media channel, they should hire a specialized booking firm for that channel. There are PR agencies that specialize in TV booking, podcast booking, radio booking, satellite media tours, etc. The point is that if a client says they only want to be in one media channel but you don’t specialize in booking that type of media, you don’t want to be in a position where you can’t actually deliver the type of media they prefer. That is why it is so critical to outline that upfront in the SOW.
THOUGHT LEADERSHIP PR: EXTRACTING WHAT MAKES YOU SPECIAL
How to extract expertise out of your subject matter experts
Jeff Coyle: Yeah. You’re not getting on Ellen tomorrow. I can see that happening and the expectation setting in public relations being so significant. You really have to have an exciting PR pitch. What goes into building that kind of a personal branding package for someone who nobody knows but could show that they’re an authority if they don’t already have content on their site? And then that’s a huge bear, right? Someone who has no content on their site and wants to be known as an expert. Are you building that content out? Does that media plan have to be fifty pages of research references? What does that look like?
Kris Ruby: For a publicist to pitch you to the media as an expert, you actually have to be an expert. PR’s are not magicians. We can’t make you an expert if you’re not truly an expert. Thought leadership means thinking your own thoughts. It doesn’t mean that someone else can think them for you and then put them out. You can’t outsource the thought part of thought leadership. Journalists can tell the difference, too, if someone really is a thought leader. It’s not just that you’re going to hire a PR firm and you’re not going to do any work and you’re not going to write content and we’re going to get the same results. It just doesn’t happen that way.
Thought leaders need to be actively involved in the brand building and thought building process.
If you want to hire someone to ghost thought leadership for you, that’s not really genuine thought leadership, is it? To clarify, ghosting thought leadership is fine as long as you supply the meat of the thought leadership someone else can edit.
What does this look like? Sometimes we’ll say, if you want publicity, here’s what I need you to do. Join these organizations, be active in the organizations, do these webinars, start speaking on podcasts. Do all of these things first before I’ll pitch you anywhere because I need to see more of your activity as an expert in this area before I can pitch you.
Sometimes you need to build credibility first before you can pitch the media. You must have innate credibility before approaching the media. You can’t only rely on the media to validate you with credibility. That is a false sense of credibility and a race to the bottom.
Be credible first and the media will support that credibility, but it doesn’t work the other way around.
Jeff Coyle: You just haven’t earned it yet. That’s the way that I think about it. If you haven’t put yourself out there, you haven’t illustrated your expertise or you haven’t exhibited your expertise. And so why would you want me to bring you out of the garage and into stage one? You want me to get you from stage one to stage five?
Kris Ruby: That’s a good metaphor for it. But I think the other problem is most people are experts in real life and what they do every single day with the people they work with. The thing I am best at is extracting that and putting it online. It’s not enough to just keep it in your head. My job is to figure out how we can get this out of your head and onto the Internet. Ultimately, that is really the goal of my work as a branding consultant.
Jeff Coyle: This is a great topic and I think everybody can relate to this. You have a product manager. If you’re in a SaaS company, you have a customer success lead. If you’re in a publisher scenario, you have contacts and people who have been covering this beat for 20 years. If you’re in a professional service scenario, like a doctor, a lawyer, or a dentist, you have all this expertise but you’re not typically interacting with non-experts.
You don’t actually know that it’s special. When I’m talking to someone who is focused on local search, I’ll ask them questions. Okay, so tell me a little bit about what happens on the day of a trial at this particular courtroom. Nothing special. Then you start to dig in and go, well, this judge does this and this person does this. Once they get into the groove, that’s the content you want to publish and you want to figure out. Do you have that experience with healthcare PR as well?
Kris Ruby: Absolutely. Most people think that their story is not special or they don’t know what they would say that makes them different or what their unique value proposition is from a PR perspective. We work hard to extract that and ask unique questions to not only pull this out of you but also to create a narrative that highlights your expertise. I ask, ‘well, what do other people tell you about yourself? What do your friends, your family, or your significant other say that you are best at and what makes you different? I find it’s easier for people to answer that question than it is to talk about themselves in that way.
People can always say what their parents think they are best at, but they can’t always clearly articulate what they think they are best at.
This is a great way to extract subject matter expertise by framing it as a question instead of as a declarative statement.
Jeff Coyle: We have to write a blog post series about how to extract expertise out of your subject matter experts because my content strategist is constantly asking our team product team members these questions because you don’t just naturally say, oh, yeah, this is a unique thing that only I know. It has to come from somewhere. You have to have it extracted often.
Kris Ruby: I know this from my background in broadcast and TV news. When you’re on panels all the time and debating other TV guests you’re constantly arguing. What I learned is that the best way to figure out the answer to what you’re asking is to get people annoyed about something.
When people are annoyed, that’s when you really start understanding what they are most passionate about.
I learned that by doing video interviews with clients in person. When people are like, okay, fine whatever. You’re not going to find that thing where their blood pressure starts raising. When that happens, that is actually what they’re most passionate about and what should be part of their mission or their brand ethos. It’s just very hard for them to communicate that.
Jeff Coyle: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I mean, you just nailed it. For the audience, think about it for yourself.
- What’s your pet peeve?
- What pains you to watch somebody else talk about?
If a person is on YouTube and they are telling somebody how to do something that you’re good at, what are the pet peeves that you think that they’re guiding somebody in the wrong direction and you just want to stop it and go? No, actually, this is the way you do it. That’s the kind of thing that I’ll often talk to people about.
I think that really resonates with healthcare. A doctor is very good at a particular procedure and they’re watching somebody tell somebody how to do it wrong or inefficiently. I think that raises blood pressure for someone who is truly an expert or a sneaky procedure and legal or an SEO practice that you might not love. I think that is a great idea. I’ve never heard about it that way, but it really resonated with me.
When we talked about getting media spots on national television, how frequently is that part of your strategy for trying to get broadcast television as part of PR versus just looking at links from digital publications?
The Future of PR
How consumer preferences dictate media strategy
Kris Ruby: The world has changed because of the pandemic and that has certainly impacted national TV public relations strategies across the board. So, for example, even as a TV guest, I haven’t been a guest in a newsroom since March, whereas I was probably going into Manhattan in those newsrooms three or four times a month before, now we don’t even know when those newsrooms are going to open back up again. We tell clients to start building out their own newsrooms and at-home studios because this is the new reality for the future of PR. I don’t know if we’re ever going to go back to the way that things were. To answer your question, I think it’s certainly a component of it. There is a mix of national TV, although I think a lot of the networks are pulling from their own talent and are relying less heavily on outside guests than they previously were. But I think that has also created an opportunity for a rise of live streams on YouTube and a demand for needing guests to fill the air time.
We’re seeing a lot of success with clients getting on those shows and working with different creators in that regard and its content at the end of the day and that is what people are coming to our PR agency for in different verticals. I know you mentioned getting on Ellen. If someone said, I want to get on Ellen.
What I would say is, okay, why?
What does it do for you if you get booked on that TV show? Always ask why. What is it that you want this to do for you?
Who is your target audience? Usually, people have a few, but who are we trying to get in front of?
Let’s say an interventional cardiologist wants to build authority already with referring physicians. Getting on the cover of a medical trade publication is infinitely more valuable for that doctor than getting booked on a consumer talk show.
Jeff Coyle: What is your target audience reading? What media do they consume? If you’re selling to e-commerce managers at large retailers, you should be focusing on sites like eCommerce marketers, maybe not footwear magazines, because you’re also selling to footwear publications. How much trust is somebody going to give you in the footwear publication versus that e-commerce market publication?
When people are doing ABM, they look at the industry that the client or that target market or their target client appears in and they look at those industry publications instead of doing a role-specific publication. I think you nailed it there. The medical journal is infinitely more valuable than any national press item that maybe medical professionals aren’t likely to watch.
Kris Ruby: There is also an opportunity for more substantial media coverage within a trade publication. I’ve seen clients get on the cover or be a feature story and get a three-page glossy spread. That just doesn’t happen you’re just not going to see that. It’s not as likely in other types of outlets where typically you’re going to get two to three lines. When you think about hiring a publicity agency, you want to ask the one question that people don’t ask agencies when they’re looking for an agency which is: what type of press do you want?
There are feature articles. There are profiles about you. Specifically, in those profiles, for example, can be helpful in trying to get a Wikipedia page when we’re talking about PR for SEO need a very specific type of press for that. And there are mentions. Mentions are when you want to be a subject matter expert that’s frequently in the news and you are mentioned with quotes a few times a month. Ask those questions and understand that before you hire or engage a PR firm. Why? Because their measure of success may not be your measure of success. For example, if the PR firm is great at getting you placed monthly as the quoted expert, but you envisioned feature profiles that will help you get a Wikipedia page, your vision of success will not line up.
You have to be clear with the expectation of the type of media coverage you are looking for. That doesn’t mean you can pick out media outlets like you are ordering from a menu, but it does mean you should clearly state the type of coverage you want and the frequency of it.
For example, my PR agency is great at getting subject matter experts placed as expert guests in digital outlets and booked as guests on podcasts. However, if someone came to us and was looking for pitching and media reviews on their product, that is an entirely different type of PR. Can I do it? Sure. Is it the type of PR that my firm specializes in? No.
PR firms must be honest and upfront with the type of media coverage they are best at getting before someone hires them. This ensures transparency and builds trust from the beginning. PR is already considered this magic box and many have no idea what they are getting when they hire a PR agency. It requires tremendous trust to hire someone when you don’t know what you are getting and there are no guarantees.
The more you explain how the public relations process works including what the expectations are and what your agency is best at, the happier the client will be because it takes the mystery out of it. Some people love surprises but when you hire an agency, the last thing you want is a surprise. Everyone wants to feel like they know what you are buying. Help them achieve that.
In other industries such as food and beverage, for example, there are labels to ensure consumer trust and truth in labeling. The same should be true in the service industry for those buying services such as public relations, content marketing, or search engine optimization. It would be great if there was an “ingredients” list with a label of what someone was purchasing when they hire a firm. The more people understand what they are buying before they buy it, the happier they will be after they buy it. However, if someone doesn’t know what they are buying, and has an unrealistic expectation and then you can’t deliver on that, that falls on you because you didn’t set the stage properly to squash that illusion before the contract was signed.
Jeff Coyle: Absolutely. The more specific the avenue or the channel, the more likely and more relevant you are, the more likely you are to get longer and more media coverage. Like you said, do you really expect that somebody is going to publish something about personalized keyword difficulty on the front page of The New York Times? It’s just not going to happen. But if you’re on Search Engine Journal, you probably are likely to get a really robust mention there. People need to be realistic. You’re not seeing a three-page spread for a medical professional on a general topic magazine, it’s just not realistic. Great point.
Kris Ruby: What you are writing about has to support your larger publicity campaign and media coverage goals, because I know we were talking about the cancel culture brand management article, which took three or four months for me to write. I did a lot of research for that and embedded rich media with different interviews I had done but the goal of that is that it’s never really finished.
It’s a piece of content that I’ll keep adding to. I want people to understand that, too. It’s not just that you do one piece of content from a PR standpoint and then it’s done. You should keep adding interviews to it or podcast interviews that relate to that topic of cancel culture. You can strategically use those pieces that you write when that topic comes up again in the news. I did that with the Section 230 article that I wrote.
Any time you work with a publicist or TV booker, they are going to say, what are your talking points on this? If you post your talking points on your blog, you can send them that link. Five thousand words can be distilled into your talking points. Of course, talking points should be two sentences and not five thousand words.
But the point is, you can give them two lines and that piece of content with rich media that supports what you’re saying for your larger talking points. Without that, it becomes much harder to get the placement or media coverage.
Jeff Coyle: Absolutely. That is one of the most important questions I ask someone the first time I speak to them about content strategy.
- Does each one of your content items have a defined update frequency?
- Do you know how often you’re going to go back and update that page?
The best publishers have a clear documented strategy for update cadence.
Triggers for when they update stuff. For reasons like there’s a new release by the brand, there’s a new change in the market. There is a trend change or I have to do this at least every quarter or every month or I’m going out and getting press mentions and every time I get one, I need to go back and update these six articles. If you don’t have an update cadence structure and update strategy, you nailed it here. You’re never done. If something’s successful, you’re never done with that page and you’re never done building off of that page. And I think that you’ve really shown that with this example.
With the cancel culture comment, that’s a great segway to reputation management and personal branding. What do you tell somebody who’s coming to you in a crisis? I know that maybe isn’t always you’re always your focus area, but it’s very relevant today.
Kris Ruby: Choose wisely in terms of the people that you hire to manage your brand and digital presence. And the reason I say this is because the second half of the article is called Cancel Culture Brand Management.
Jeff Coyle: How do you manage a brand in the age of cancel culture and what does that mean?
Kris Ruby: That means that the people you’re hiring, those agency professionals, are on the frontline for you and are often thrust into these battles on behalf of your brand.
This is a great example of where you can really see the difference between the people that say I can get someone to do social media for a few hundred dollars, it doesn’t really matter versus the ones that are spending on strategy. You need to trust the people that you are empowering or hiring to handle these battles for you. If there was a battle and you’re going to war, you wouldn’t go to the dollar store for that, you put the best people you have to defend your brand.
I think the same is true with your social media marketing strategy or digital public relations strategy. I’m not just saying that as an agency where I am saying you have to hire an agency and spend money. I’m saying it because you will save yourself money in the long run. If you spend less on the front end and someone posts something that makes the whole thing worse, and then you’re spending more money on legal and defamation and lawsuits and then hiring people like myself to clean all that up for you.
Jeff Coyle: I think that’s really appropriate and it’s actually a good question. Are you seeing that because they cut the budget? I think in that article there was a big component of, why are you stopping? Why are you expecting that you have clarity on how much content you’re going to even need to publish this year and on what topics? You don’t know what’s going to happen in the next five hours or next week in this particular space or on these particular topics.
How can you expect to already know what you’re going to need to publish and for that to not be a living thing? And then that means you’re not investing in these types of communications strategies.
Kris Ruby: A lot of people fundamentally still don’t understand that they are the publisher of their own magazine. That magazine is called your website and your blog. Period. End of story. You are not only a lawyer, doctor, or entrepreneur, you are also a publisher. When you look at the magazines you read, they are on a regular publishing schedule, not just updating content but publishing new content on a set schedule. People come to rely on when content is coming from them if they like their content. That doesn’t mean you publish one post today and then update it twelve months from now. It means it’s frequent. Of course, what’s going on in the world can change that. For example, if there’s an election, that’s going to probably alter your content strategy a little bit of your PR strategy. But that’s okay. The same is true in a pandemic. However, you need to figure out if your content strategy is topical or evergreen and how you want to adapt your content to account for current events. All of this will impact topic relevance, ranking, resource allocation, and how often the content needs to be updated.
PR Tip: Figure out how you can insert your keyword, topic, or subject matter expertise into the news cycle and inject it.
PR, RISK MANAGEMENT, AND CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS ADVICE
Jeff Coyle: What do you see as a brand manager or giving brand management advice as a daily thing for someone who is managing a brand and is responsible for managing risks? For someone who hasn’t thought that they should ever budget for PR, brand management, or online reputation management, how do you introduce the idea that there is a lot of risk without it seeming like you’re trying to scare them?
Kris Ruby: I had this conversation the other day with another agency owner where I said people when they come to me, they hire me for PR. But what ends up happening is I start with PR. We build up this critical mass, but then we end up doing a lot of content on the back end of that.
It’s much harder if you say to someone it’s going to be X thousand dollars a month to do content. That’s a hard conversation. If you say it’s X thousand dollars a month to get you on X, Y, Z show, people see value in that.
The other day he said I’m better meaning him. He’s an agency owner. I’m better at getting new clients. You’re better at keeping them. And I said, what do you mean? He said you’ve diversified your offering. Maybe I should do the same. He’s never said that and I think that was a result of the pandemics impact on the PR industry.
But the only reason I think he’s saying that I retain clients longer is because we offer content marketing services and not only PR. Traditional PR agencies that only offer public relations and have no understanding of what we’re talking about today, it’s a ticking clock.
In five years, PR is not enough to sustain those conversations of: so, what did you do for me lately? You don’t constantly want to be focused on the next press hit; it’s a race to the bottom.
You want to figure out: what is the long-term ROI for this brand and what I have found is that content mixed with PR answers that question the best possible way.
Jeff Coyle: How do you make sure that doesn’t slow down to more agile content teams where you have to get agreement? You know, is it, hey, if we’re at a particular level of risk, then everything has to be approved? But during the normal course, not everything does. How do you balance someone’s desire to gun sling on social or post at a particular agile cadence?
Kris Ruby: For each client, that approval process is set up differently. If someone wants to be involved in those micro details, we’re probably not going to be an ideal fit. We need to have control over the day-to-day management of the engagement.
What I’ve learned is that maintaining control over the process, most particularly, your process is important. The more you start changing that process for each engagement, that becomes significantly less profitable because that involves your team learning new things, paying for new tools, and you end up spending more time on the project management component of it than you are on the billable hours doing the job you were initially hired to do.
Jeff Coyle: That’s a great point. I was wondering how you separate that. For healthcare, I think you naturally do have a lot more regulations and a lot more caution than other areas. I wasn’t sure what your perspective was on that, but that makes a ton of sense.
Jeff Coyle: Are you using Moz’s domain authority as a key metric? What is your approach when you’re looking at inbound publisher links and PR opportunities?
Kris Ruby: If it’s a request from a reporter, yes, we will look at that. There are other media and journalist subscription sites where they actually put the DA next to the journalist query where we don’t have to look that up, which is amazing, but there are usually few and far between. I also look at not only the DA but the quality of that site and if it aligns with their topic cluster of where they want to be.
Does the client fit the criteria of the query? The client can meet every criterion they are looking for in terms of credentials, but can they get back to them by the deadline? It doesn’t matter if it’s an 80 DA, but the client is not going to respond in time for the time-sensitive deadline, then forget it.
Jeff Coyle: Are they likely to turn around requests? I think that is really important to be thinking about, not just the overall value of the site because if they’re not going to act quickly or give you the content you need, that can impact your ability to get them the media coverage they want.
Kris Ruby: As a publicist, I need to have a high level of assurance and confidence that if I get a national media outlet on the phone, the client will respond. The very worst scenario is that you pitch a client for a national media opportunity, but the client doesn’t respond because they are in a case or with a patient. This is why it is imperative that you have a solid understanding of where a client is before pitching media on their behalf.
Publicists are wired to respond rapidly when a journalist replies to a pitch or wants to speak to a source. There is no worse feeling than a reporter asking if you have someone available and you have to say no. In fact, the best publicists never say no because we want to be seen as a good resource for the media outlet, which is why we will often give the media outlet another agency’s client if it means they will get back to the outlet on time. The best PR firms do this. Ultimately, it is about collaboration over competition.
For example, I am part of a group of PR professionals and agency owners where we share who our clients are and what media opportunities exist for the clients. If one PR firm can’t fulfill a media request for a cardiologist because they don’t have one, they may say, Kris, do you have a doctor who is available? This is a great way to keep the media happy and also collaborate with other PRs so that we all win!
Jeff Coyle: That’s something that we also talk with people about who use our technology to find out: does a site that they’re seeking interest from actually have authority on these topics? You’re doing that research and making that judgment call so that you’re saying they do high-quality stuff.
Kris Ruby: People do not deserve media coverage, they must earn the coverage.
PR, SEO, AND LINK BUILDING
How to make publicity mentions part of your content marketing strategy
Kris Ruby: From a PR perspective, if anyone tells you that they can guarantee links, they are lying. They can’t.
WATCH: How to Spot a Fake PR Firm
I know there are people in the SEO industry that say they can do that. I don’t go anywhere near that because we follow the PRSA code of ethics. We have no idea if a link will be secured as part of the coverage we secure for you. We find out when you find out after the article runs. Most of the time, journalists and reporters don’t know either until after something is published. Every outlet has a different policy on backlinks and they can change at any time too, so looking at a website’s previous article link strategy may not truly be indicative of their stance on links.
It’s great to look at domain authority. But at the end of the day, it’s not truly indicative of whether or not you’re going to get a link from a high-authority site. I want people to understand that. You could look at the site that has a really high DA and you could get that press placement and your client mentioned. But it doesn’t mean you’re getting a link. We have no idea. The reporter has no idea. And we’re going to find out when the story comes out. Sometimes when we have CEOs that come to us that want to work with us, they want this guarantee that that’s going to happen. I say, no, I’m sorry, we can’t work with you. We can’t guarantee that.
Real organic PR does not come with an a la carte price list menu for the cost of publicity placements.
In addition, if someone approaches us and we see they have purchased those types of organic pieces in outlets, we will not work with them. There are many different philosophies around this. Our experience tells us that it is better to do things by the book, follow the principles of real journalism, and engage in ethical practices with journalistic and PR integrity. If someone wants to buy links from media outlets, that is not the type of client we want to work with.
Earned media is not paid media. Paid media cloaked as earned media without disclosure is fraudulent. We fully support advertorial media buying practices because this clearly follows FTC guidelines and shows that something is paid. But to buy paid links and pretend it is organic when it was paid for is not a brand built on ethical practices I want to be associated with. Furthermore, it hurts your backlink profile and online reputation in the long run. We want nothing to do with that type of work and if anyone engages in that type of stuff while under contract with us, we will terminate the agreement. That is how strongly I feel about it because it directly sabotages the effectiveness of the PR campaign efforts.
Jeff Coyle: Exactly. Frankly, any guarantee in content marketing and search engine optimization is something to shy away from. There’s an unfortunate amount of it still in there. I’ll leave that one there before I start ranting and turning red. That’s one of my things. That’s when you’re extracting your expertise from people from those that are cool. That’s awesome.
Jeff Coyle: How do you relate cancel culture to PR and is that something you bring up with clients or are you mostly just trying to advocate for awareness of the topic?
Kris Ruby: Every brand is one tweet away from being canceled. I do bring that up with clients and I let them know we can do this. However, are you okay with the repercussions if XYZ risk happens? And I’d like you to write in this email that you have approved this for liability reasons. when you actually tell someone and think, oh, maybe I don’t want to do that, so it’s just getting people to really think.
As a publicist, you have to think like a lawyer.
Every day is about risk management and mitigating that risk. Ideally, good PR should be about mitigating risk and not doing things that are super risky.
Jeff Coyle: We’re definitely going to be tweeting that one because I think it’s so true. I mean, you’re a bad day away from someone having access to your social media account who you probably trust or maybe even is on the rolls making a bad decision based on not unclear SOPs and unclear guidelines or they’re just making a bad judgment call and decision.
We see it all the time now and even more so in B2B now because historically we haven’t been customer-facing. Do you agree with that?
The tweet published earlier was mistakenly posted by a member of our social media team. We deleted the post and have no intention of commenting on the subject of certifying the electoral college. We apologize to Senator Hawley for this error and any confusion about our position.
— Walmart Inc. (@WalmartInc) December 30, 2020
Kris Ruby: Yes, absolutely. The number one killer of most PR campaigns is the actual executives themselves. It’s not these external forces. It’s them inserting themselves into the campaign. And then we have to end up shifting focus to clean up what they did rather than someone else.
When you hire agency professionals, whether it’s content PR, SEO, Karl Sakas talks about this notion of swim lanes. Let them stay in their swim lane. Don’t start swimming in their lane because then they can’t swim and they drown.
Jeff Coyle: It’s about talking to the executive leadership group about each individual when they have an individual presence and say, are you okay with how edgy this person is? Is it important to do that? I mean, it matters when you hire. It also matters when you’re just examining their existing presence on digital media platforms.
Kris Ruby: If you create your digital PR and content strategy the right way, you’re going to start thinking more carefully about what you say yes to and what you say no to because if you now realize that every time you say yes to a media opportunity, you’re going to have to build out content around it. It will impact your decision-making process for the interviews you say yes to. It may be great from a PR perspective, but if it doesn’t align with the overall content clusters you want, you may need to reconsider the media opportunity. This is a very advanced way to look at digital PR and content marketing. It’s going to blow your mind and change your whole approach to PR.
The traditional approach to PR is that you say yes to every opportunity and you do not say no to any media opportunities. When you integrate competitive intelligence and topic clusters, what you say yes to can either help you or hurt you in the eyes of Google as being seen as an authority. If you do press on five unrelated topics, it becomes harder to distinguish what you are truly an expert in, leading Google to believe that you may in fact be an expert in nothing. The goal is to create a cohesive picture of your subject matter expertise with the content you publish, the interviews you say yes to, the videos you disseminate, and the webinars you host.
All of it should lead back to the pillar content of your core expertise. This helps Google trust you as the expert, and it helps the media see you as the go-to expert, too.
It’s going to help you really focus on: is this actually something that I’m an expert in and want to be known for or is this outside of my wheelhouse? If you don’t feel passionate about writing interview answers on the topic or if you have to research the answers to a query, you most likely aren’t a true subject matter expert and shouldn’t be doing it.
There are so many times I have turned down media opportunities because I know someone else may be a better fit. We do the same thing with our clients as well.
In medicine, there is something called a scope of practice, which is the area you are an expert in and technically, you are not supposed to veer too far away from that. The same is true for public relations and media regardless of what industry you work in.
Do not be greedy with media coverage.
What do I mean by this? Do not comment on things outside of your scope and be honest about what you can speak to and what you truly do not know. If you don’t know the answer to something, say that. Don’t make up an answer to fill air time or sound intelligent. This damages your credibility and ensures you will never be asked back on the air as a guest.
As a media contributor, you hold a high ethical responsibility in society to inform people about your topic. Do not take that duty lightly. People are counting on you for factual information. Many people would kill to be in your spot who are vying for the air time. Do not take this responsibility lightly.
You can either be part of the problem of disseminating misinformation (because another media hit would feel so good on your website!) or you can be part of the solution. Another PR opportunity will always come along if you pass up things that you can’t truly speak to. But if you say yes to something because you got “PR greedy” and bomb the segment because you really don’t know what you are talking about, I can guarantee you this.
You will never be asked back. Not only will you have burned through credibility with the producers and bookers who put the segment together, you will also burn through the trust factor with the PR firm you hire, which will make them want to distance themselves from you as well. Be Honest. I believe in a better world where we can practice PR for the greater good but that starts with properly educating clients on the micro ethical decisions around media relations. It is our responsibility as practitioners to do this.
Jeff Coyle: That is such great advice and I connected so well with that early on. You take every interview you can get. But really what is that conversation going to be? Is it going to be connected to me? You also said something very important and it’s a great segway. I wish there was a way we can prioritize what pages we’re going to update and that’s what we do at MarketMuse.
Kris thank you so much for joining us. I think this is one of the most exciting webinars, like there are piles of takeaways from this discussion and it’s something we really haven’t approached on our content strategy webinar series. And this is really a lot of net new things. I think a lot of people only think about this from a link development standpoint or only think about this from a news or temporal content perspective. But it all needs to be woven together and thank you so much for showing us that today. Rich media optimization is a passion of mine and I’m so excited that it’s part of your new service offering because you’re going to kill it with your organization based on all the success you’ve had.
· Publicity Skyrockets Earned Media Results
· Media Logos Increase Conversions
· Promoting Earned Media is Often an Afterthought. This is a mistake.
· Media/PR Strategies and Pitfalls
· Making Press Mentions Part of Your Content Marketing Strategy
Are you making the most of your earned media placements?
- TIP: Embed media appearances in each piece of content. Include podcasts, videos, and audio. Rich media will keep someone on your website longer. People learn in different ways. Each blog post should include video, audio, and written word.
- TIP: Make sure that your employees and social media marketing agency understand the aesthetic of your brand, especially if they are in control of your business social media accounts
FURTHER READING: How to Maximize National Media Exposure
Listen in on how this PR maven is using MarketMuse to improve her content in this PR/content strategy knockout.
Watch the webinar with @RubyMediaGroup and @jeffrey_coyle here: https://t.co/vZt7cmVei7 pic.twitter.com/WviTwyPb2G
— MarketMuse (@MarketMuseCo) December 7, 2020
SEO PUBLIC RELATIONS SERVICES | RUBY MEDIA GROUP
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Ruby Media Group offers PR and SEO services. Your hard-earned media placements will be optimized for search engines and potential patients, prospects, and members of the media to get more mileage out of the press coverage we secure for you.
Ruby Media Group is an award-winning NY Public Relations Firm and NYC Social Media Marketing Agency. The New York PR Firm specializes in healthcare marketing, healthcare PR, and medical practice marketing. Ruby Media Group helps companies increase their exposure through leveraging social media and digital PR. RMG conducts a thorough deep dive into an organization’s brand identity and then creates a digital footprint and comprehensive strategy to execute against. Specialties include content creation, strategic planning, social media management, and digital public relations. RMG helps clients shine in the digital space by extracting their strengths, developing story ideas, and crafting compelling news angles to ensure journalists go to their clients first as story sources and thought leaders. Ruby Media Group creates strategic, creative, measurable targeted campaigns to achieve your organization’s strategic business growth and PR objectives. For more information, please visit https://rubymediagroup.com
About the Author
KRIS RUBY is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, an award-winning public relations and media relations agency in Westchester County, New York. Kris Ruby has more than 13 years of experience in the Public Relations industry. Kris Ruby is a publicity and media relations strategist. Ruby pitches media stories that generate an uptick in visitors, sales, traffic, leads and brand lift. She has secured top-tier national media coverage for doctors in high-profile outlets and publications including Harpers Bazaar, Fox 5 NY, Huffington Post, Dr. Oz Magazine, The Doctors TV Show, Prevention, Family Circle Magazine, Healthline, Today Show, People Magazine, Bustle, Allure, Women’s Health, Newsweek, Teen Vogue, SHAPE, Readers Digest, WebMD, FORBES and more! Kris Ruby is a trusted media source and frequent on-air commentator on Fox News. Kris is a member of the Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Society of Greater New York, a group for healthcare PR executives in the greater NYC area dedicated to fostering professional growth in the field of healthcare Public Relations.
Ruby is a sought-after media relations strategist, personal branding specialist, content creator and public relations consultant. Kris Ruby is also a national television commentator and political pundit and she has appeared on national TV programs over 150 times covering big tech bias, politics and social media. She is a trusted media source and frequent on-air commentator on social media, tech trends and crisis communications and frequently speaks on FOX News and other TV networks. She has been featured as a published author in OBSERVER, ADWEEK, and countless other industry publications. Her research on brand activism and cancel culture is widely distributed and referenced. She graduated from Boston University’s College of Communication with a major in public relations and is a founding member of The Young Entrepreneurs Council. She is also the host of The Kris Ruby Podcast Show, a show focusing on the politics of big tech and the social media industry. Kris is focused on PR for SEO and leveraging content marketing strategies to help clients get the most out of their media coverage. For more information about Ruby Media Group, visit https://www.krisruby.com and https://rubymediagroup.com
.@sparklingruby brings 13+ years of PR expertise & has been featured on @ABC, @NBC, @TIME, and more. On 10/21, she'll bring her knowledge to MarketMuse and share how to drive organic impact with press content alongside @jeffrey_coyle.
— MarketMuse (@MarketMuseCo) October 19, 2020
ABOUT JEFF COYLE OF MARKETMUSE
Jeff Coyle is a data-driven search engine marketing executive with more than 18 years of experience in the search industry managing products and website networks. Jeff is the Co-founder and Chief Product Officer for MarketMuse, where he is focused on helping content marketers, search engine marketers, agencies, and e-commerce managers build topical authority, improve content quality and turn semantic research into actionable insights. Before joining as Co-founder at MarketMuse, Jeff owned and operated his own inbound marketing consultancy and managed the Traffic, Search, and Engagement team for TechTarget, a leader in B2B technology publishing and lead generation.