Q&A: Here’s How You Can Boost Media Relations With SEO


McKeeman Communications

There are 6 PR professionals for every journalist in America. It’s an exciting yet challenging time for PR practitioners: while the industry is booming, it’s harder to capture the attention of journalists faced with the onslaught of 24-hour news cycles, consolidated newsrooms, and the possibility of AI-assisted writing. PR firms in Charlotte, NC are constantly battling for top-of-mind awareness.

How can you cut through the clutter and make sure the right people actually open your pitch? Here’s where having a robust search engine optimization (SEO) strategy comes in. Kim McKeeman, CEO of McKeeman Communications, a PR firm serving Charlotte, North Carolina, answers some of your burning questions.

Why is SEO important even in what’s considered traditional media relations?

Kim: Journalists use search engines to look for resources, just like everyone else. SEO enhances the searchability of press releases and other placements.

How does one craft a press release optimized for search?

Kim: Insert primary keywords, company names, and locations into headlines, sub-headlines, content, and boilerplates. Write in a conversational tone as Google penalizes keyword stuffing and will flag your content as spam. Keep headlines short: only 50-60 characters of a headline will appear in the search results, so keywords should appear before your content gets cut off.

How do you determine which keywords to use? 

Kim: If you don’t have a dedicated SEO team for this task, PR firms in Charlotte NC such as McKeeman Communications recommend studying your niche. Keep track of relevant topics and questions that prospects, customers, and other shareholders ask. Start building your keyword list from the common phrases that emerge.

Press releases have images that go along with them. Can these be optimized for search as well?

Kim: Absolutely. With Google shifting from text to a more visual way of finding information, it only makes sense to do so.

Google’s search engine results display just as many image results as they do text-based results. An image’s alt text is the copy that appears in place of an image on a webpage if the image fails to load, and it makes the image clickable. Including images with highly relevant alt text increases the searchability of your press release.

Use a unique image (relevant to your content, of course) rather than a stock photo whenever possible. Even its placement in an article matters: if you have an image that you’re trying to rank, keep it close to the top of the page. 

Another best practice is to select a distribution service with high online exposure. PR Web, for example, has a website distribution of 30,000 bloggers and journalists.

How can we verify if we’re pitching a story to an authoritative website?

Kim: Check the website for quality backlinks. Backlinks are important because these represent a vote of confidence from one site to another. If several sites link to the same website, search engines can infer that the content is worth linking to. A backlink from a trusted website will increase your own site’s authority and search ranking. 

While Google does not disclose its metrics for determining a site’s authority, this Backlink Research tool developed by Moz lets you check the backlink profile and Domain Authority of any site. It’s not exact, but it’s a good indicator.

How can PR pitch emails stand out?

Kim: If you haven’t heard from your favorite journalist regarding your PR pitch, don’t give up just yet. Journalists looking for resources and story ideas will go through their archived emails. This can happen weeks, months, or even years after the initial pitch was sent. Therefore, it’s important to craft PR email pitches in a way that will make them easier to find. 

Think about what words or phrases most accurately describe your theme. Incorporate main keywords into the email subject line as well as the main body of the pitch whenever possible.

Writing the article yourself and pitching it directly to a publication gives you the opportunity to incorporate essential keywords and backlinks. Include anchor text leading to a specific blog post, an FAQ page, a white paper, an archived newsletter, or other content you provide for free. Doing this tells Google that you are an expert on a particular topic.

These SEO strategies will help drive media relations efforts, which in return, creates more value for the organization. 

One of the top PR firms in Charlotte, NC, McKeeman Communications is in the business of building brands and reputations. If you want to learn more about how your media relations can benefit from SEO, call (866) 341-2650 or email info@mckeemanpr.com