While a bit, um, dramatic, it caused many in our profession to freak out a little bit.
The answer? A resounding no.
That said, what both pieces have taught us is the old way of keyword stuffing and using optimized anchor text are bad practices. This is something bloggers already knew and something PR pros who don’t blog need to figure out.
More than Just News Releases
The biggest issue, of course, with the ZDNet article is PR is more than just news releases. Even if Google said you can no longer distribute releases online, it wouldn’t kill PR agencies.
Let’s take that scenario. I apologize in advance to my friends who work for news release distribution companies. This is just a hypothetical.
Let’s say Google does say, “No more!” and they ban any form of news release distribution online as they consider it spam, which they’re trying to kill.
What do you do?
When I began my career, we didn’t have a way to distribute a news release online. We had to – gasp! – subscribe to the newspaper or magazine and read it. We had to find the most appropriate journalist for our client’s product or service and call them. We had to target our message specifically to what their readers, viewers, or listeners were accustomed to receiving.
Sure, we created media kits, which included news releases, but we didn’t mass distribute them (too expensive) and we certainly didn’t send them to anyone and everyone who matched an online search (side note: I received a news release the other day for a Chicago opening of an education franchise…because I live in Chicago).
Don’t Die PR Agencies!
Let’s go back to our hypothetical.
Google says no more online releases and then what?
We’ll actually have to do media relations the way we are supposed to do it: By building relationships first and then pitching a story idea.
I know most of you know this intuitively, but get bogged down in client pressures and not having enough time and it’s so easy to just hit send to a bunch of journalists and bloggers and cross your fingers, but you will have much better luck sending a story idea to 10 solid relationships and get nine stories than to send 100 or 1,000 news releases and get only one.
I like those stats much better.
Google is doing you a favor. It’s not killing us. It’s not killing our profession. It’s making us better.
Use the online services to help you build your lists and learn more about the people you’re going to meet, but for heaven’s sakes, stop mass distributing news releases. Because, if you do and they’re not written for human beings, Google will penalize you and your client.
Be better professionals. Take the time to do media relations correctly. Educate your clients on how the process works – and how long it takes. Write for humans. Don’t keyword stuff. Don’t optimize anchor text.
If you think about how you would like to be treated if someone wanted to work with you and behave in that manner, things will go swimmingly well.