SEO Vs PR: is there really a battle for Social Media?

I am fully prepared for a whole heap of disagreements on what I am about the write, but after sharing a link on Twitter about the so-called “battle for social media”, I thought I’d actually get my thoughts down. The article in question was by Andrew Girdwood and can be found here.

As I said the first time I read the article, I think that it’s an interesting take on the situation and I agree with it for the most. One part that I do disagree with is that “online PR” and “social media PR” are separate entities – they aren’t, they are part of the whole PR mix. Yes, there’s a different level of understanding required, yes there are different approaches, but it’s still PR.

Throughout my career, a few things have always stuck with me and one was an old MD of mine who used to say “the best skills for the job”. As such, she never looked at her agency as the consumer team, the technology team or the online team – she actually used to think in terms of “who’s my best radio person”, or “who gets killer pieces in the tabloids” and so on. I think that it’s the same for any client today – the best skills for the job.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that clients require a whole host of skills to get the job done. For instance, the launch of a new product might involve messaging developed by corporate PR, seeding by digital/social media PR and execution by consumer PR all backed up by a solid SEO programe. It’s not just one thing. Which kind of leads me on to the bit where I agree with Andrew – It’s about working together within the wider marketing mix. Solid marketing programmes need “the best skills” and that means PR, advertising, SEO, experiencial and so on….whatever the client’s needs are.

Where I see the difference from a PR point of view is the actual conversation. We’re not SEO specialists, sure, I understand SEO and I integrate it into the work I do where I can. Ultimately, I’d love to work more closely with SEO peeps to get my content and conversations working harder. But that’s what we’re about, the conversation…. that’s out Kung Fu if you will. And that’s where I might upset people, I don’t SEO fulfilling that role,  I see that as purely PR.

My closing thoughts – I just go back to what my old MD said – “the best skills for the job”