Two nations divided by a common language

PR and SEO – working together or keep apart?

As a PR man, the more time I spend with SEO teams the more I feel like the relationship could be summarised in the same way as that often-used quote about the British and Americans being ‘two nations divided by a common language’. So much brings us together and yet there are some clear differences that need to be worked around to find mutual understanding.

Since acquiring a SEO agency I have been on a steep learning curve every day from my new colleagues. Previously, I had a rather superficial knowledge of SEO and it wasn’t until I jumped in with both feet that I have had a much better idea about where PR and SEO can best work together and where the two disciplines are best kept apart!

What I do know is that both disciplines have a lot to learn from each other and if we can crack this with a ‘blended approach’ then the offer is a very compelling one. SEO offers a very diverse suite of products from technical onsite capability through to much more creative content creation and distribution through earned media and influencer outreach.


In the last year we have created some fantastic campaigns which have been hugely creative but also delivered tangible results in terms of tangible performance metrics. At the same time, we have had lots of internal sessions, dancing around each other trying to figure out the best way forward with the right mix of skills and people in the agency – dependent on the client brief and metrics.

Technical and analytics

I do believe that the PR industry has missed a trick in not trying to grapple with SEO properly. I have seen more SEO agencies trying to win PR budgets than the other way around and probably because this is easier for them to do via decent hires. At the very core of a SEO programme you need technical and analytics expertise, which is often lacking in PR agencies.

I am looking forward to sharing some of my ‘war stories’ at PR Fest in June as well as some of the success stories we have enjoyed along the way!

Guest post by Jim Hawker, Threepipe @jimjimhawker 

You can hear Jim at #PRFest on Friday, 16 June. Book your place now! Group discounts available and PRCA members get 10% discount.