The results are in: SEO is a top priority for PR professionals in 2019

Did you take my 2019 survey to determine how SEO-savvy public relations professionals are, and if their professional priorities align with brand priorities? Keep reading. The results are in. 

These charts and comments are a slider; swipe or use the side arrows to move through them.

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SEO for PR survey Q1 - What type of PR professional are you?
SEO for PR survey Q2 - What is your comfort level with digital public relations?
SEO for PR survey Q3 - Is growing SEO a marketing priority?
SEO for PR survey Q4 - should PR pros be responsible for integrating basic SEO in their content?
SEO for PR survey Q5 - Does your agency or employer have adequate in-house SEO expertise?
SEO for PR survey Q6 - how experienced are you with SEO?
SEO for PR survey Q7 - Which of these SEO skills do you currently have
SEO for PR survey Q8 - Is learning SEO skills a priority for you?
SEO for PR survey Q9 - Are you comfortable learning new digital skills?

For most of us, 2018 was a tough year.

Facebook engagement on our brand pages hit an all-time low, and the lift social sharing used to give our content evaporated into a pay-for-play environment…. but the ability to target the right audience became more effective than ever before.

Ridiculous volumes of content made the competition for reach INCREDIBLY challenging… but it taught us the difference between quantity versus quality.

The effectiveness of earned media dropped… pushing us to adopt stronger skills for conversion and smarter call-to-action tactics.

Creating brands that are authentic continued to remain a major challenge for many… yet we’ve seen the effectiveness of influencer marketing equalize with brand marketing, according to an article I came across yesterday. Our audiences trust the content we are publishing as much as they trust an influencer touting our message, so we’re clearly doing something right. Trust in our content is growing and trust for sponsored messaging is declining.

We’re all becoming more sophisticated.

Perhaps the most impressive change is this: PR professionals are taking ownership of learning the skills they need to be effective and competitive. They’ve realized just how critical it is, and owning it.

Do PR pro and brand priorities align?

Some of you might have seen the survey that I ran in December, exploring attitudes of our peers around digital and search engine optimization.

As content creators, I wanted to substantiate or disprove a Hubspot® statistic that I came across in their 2018 State of Inbound report, and make that statistic relevant to PR professionals.

The report stated that growing SEO/organic presence is the biggest marketing priority for brands in the upcoming year.

Do our own professional priorities match that of the brands we’re publicizing?

Here’s what I found out.

We’re building awareness and reputation, with almost 85% of us completely comfortable learning new digital skills. Is search engine optimization a priority for PR pros in 2019? The overwhelming answer was YES.

Not only is it a priority, but we’re willing to step in to learn how it should be integrated into our content, and admitting it’s a shortfall for most of us need to grow. We create content and need to learn how to make the most of it. We want that content to be as successful as possible, knowing that is a key part of our job and SEO is one tool to make that happen.

We’re also comfortable learning digital.

An impressive 74% have made it a major priority to learn or expand their skills for search this year.

I’m thrilled and clients should be, too.

The survey wasn’t just revealing in the comparison charts it created. The comments were insightful, too. Let’s take a look.

Should we be responsible for learning how to integrate basic SEO into the content we create?

One of the most interesting questions asked in the survey was this: should PR professionals be responsible for learning how to integrate basic SEO into the content they create?

Overwhelmingly, the responses were positive, with just two percent of the survey participants commenting that SEO should not be a responsibility of the public relations professional. Interesting, right?

Survey comments:
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Creating create content also includes making the content readable and extending its reach in the digital world. Content that no one reads and doesn’t reach its target is worthless.

It boosts reach and ROI drastically.

If we don’t, SEO experts will soon take over earned media.

It’s part of the evolution of the business. Adapt or die.

PR companies must be fully integrated across all platforms to compete.

Google results are the new front page.

If a PR pro writes content in a forest but no one is there to read it, did they actually write it? Basically, our job as writers is to lure the audience and keep them engaged or make them take an action, and any tool that can be used to help achieve those goals should be utilized.

As the amount of content produced and consumed daily skyrockets, getting your content in front of consumers/audience organically is one of the hardest things to do. Effective SEO efforts can help this.

SEO is part of the strategy and should be done by anyone posting.

The simple basics make a difference in getting out a message.

There’s no reason not to do the basics!

SEC has emerged as one of the expected tools in a portfolio and should be a skill for all generalists, not just “SEO Experts.”

Like with all businesses, the internet and social media have changed the way we do our jobs. Any PR firm that doesn’t offer – or at least partner with – SEO expertise will find themselves losing clients.

SEO is essential.

A PR professional’s goal is to obtain media coverage first.

SEO is unarguably a critical tool in getting your content seen.

We need to understand how to optimize our approaches and bring them fully into the digital age.

It’s the modern age of PR. Newsrooms are shrinking and we must evolve with the changing media landscape.

This is so important and I need to learn how to do it!

SEO is PR.

It’s one tool in the toolkit.

The lines between PR, digital PR and digital marketing/SEO are blurred.

We are responsible for content, so we should know how to maximize it.

SEO is the only way to make the content we are creating VALUABLE. Digital and SEO must be part of the equation.

SEO is part of the value of PR and provides another means to measure the results of our work.

It’s a tool that helps the promotion of content. It would be foolish to ignore it.

PR professionals write content with specific goals in mind: increase awareness, drive traffic to a website, or influence another call to action. It must incorporate keywords and phrases to align the content with how people search for the topic you’re writing about.

You want the right people to see your content and take action.

Content is king, it always has been. Attract more eyes with better content and they will come back, especially when the bots are watching how people interact with that content.

Basic SEO, yes, but PR pros should have SEO experts assist and elevate their content beyond the basics.

Content needs to be found online if it’s going to be of value today.

Earned media and SEO should be working in tandem to attract maximum attention for a brand.

If you are talking about “basic SEO”, anyone that is creating content should be learning the basics to know how to incorporate into their content. The rules may be changing, but they are not overly complex to understand that basics.

SEO is needed as a “basic” with all content!

Writing the ‘right’ words for SEO is like chasing the ever-moving algorithm target. Writing good, quality content naturally includes keywords worth search engines picking up. Why does everyone think you can ‘hack’ everything?

Ultimately, PR pros are responsible for generating trust. It’s very easy to create scammy-looking, untrustworthy content with ham-fisted SEO measures.

While I think it’s important to continue to grow and develop new skills, I don’t believe in being a jack-of-all-trades vs being a specialist. In addition, I’ve found it difficult to find reliable sources from which to learn how to do this.

The right content feeds the ever-changing SEO beast. We need to understand how it works & adapt.

So much of the products of PR are content. Since content is largely driven by user intent searches, SEO is a critical slice of that strategy.

SEO shouldn’t have such large effect.

Yes, we should learn SEO if there’s no one else qualified to do so, but not if there’s a digital team.

This is essential if you are writing content for any channel.

It is a missed opportunity to not leverage PR for the benefit of SEO,

Everybody needs to be on board: marketing, social, web administrator, etc. It is the PR professional’s responsibility to ensure they are not the weak link.

With social media organic reach nearly dead, SEO is one of the last organic reach areas available to businesses.

Because it’s a core competency.

Having to wait on someone else to research keywords is not time effective, and a basic knowledge of content creation for SEO is important (especially if you’re teaching a client).

That it’s just being thought of as important in 2018 is pathetic, but organic/earned is tied to PR.

No, it’s not important for PR pros. Stick to what you know – team with experts that know SEO.

PR professionals are not solely responsible, but it’s definitely a priority to learn about it.

The Future is NOW! Digital search is critical across all sectors.

If something is going to live on digital platforms, it should be optimized for best results.

The responsibilities of a PR pro includes knowing how to drive traffic and increase conversions.


So that’s the survey. Let me know if you find it useful! I welcome your comments and insight.

If you’re a public relations professional interested in growing your own digital skills in a comfortable learning environment, be sure to join my brand new Facebook group. Just click or tap on the image below! You’ll need to provide your LinkedIn profile or another way I can verify you are in PR, but otherwise… you’re in!

PR pros don't quit