SEO, procurement and audience-led communications

A brand new podcast on what must be done to future-proof PR



Show 29 of the csuitepodcast was recorded at launch party of #FuturePRoof: Edition Two, a new book featuring 39 new essays from authors around the world, who were brought together by the driving force behind the publication and recently announced CIPR President Elect 2017, Sarah Hall.

For this show, I interviewed a few of the chapter authors, but started by chatting initially to Sarah, who explained that the first edition of the book had achieved more than 2500 downloads and sales, hence why she was convinced that there was clearly an appetite for her to publish a second book within a year.

As with the first edition, this new book’s authors were crowdsourced and covers a wide range of topics that are of importance to the PR industry.

Chapter 19 – Audience Led Communications (7:56)

The first of the chapter authors I spoke to was Sarah Clark who is head of communications insight at the Department of Health. Sarah wrote Chapter 19 together with Jim Macnamara, who is professor of public communication at the University of Technology in Sydney and their chapter title is “A listening and insightful future: Changing PR Practice to Deliver Audience Led Communications”.

Sarah explained that the subject she had written about was about developing communications around how consumers see themselves, so thinking about the consumer needs and how to then use those in an innovative way.

Through Professor Macnamara’s work, Sarah said that they know most organisations aren’t doing genuine two-way communications and it’s something she thinks the PR industry needs to improve at. She also believes there are a lot of opportunities to be more innovative in the way we can carry research and insight, enabling us to get closer to audiences.

Sarah said the most important thing, once you have garnered any insight from lots of different sources and pooled it together, is to take action upon it. It’s not about looking at one individual source of information. She added that it’s also key to drill down into that data – too many organisations in PR talk about the public at large, rather than focussing on segmented audiences and what life feels like for individuals.

Sarah’s chapter talks through many tools that can help some of the actions she recommended and some of the ones that have worked well in her own role at the Department of Health include online public panels, in-depth social media listening (to conversations live as they happen) and video diaries.

Chapter 34 – Embracing SEO (14:33)

My next guest on the show was the author of Chapter 34, Darryl Sparey, UK business development director at Hotwire PR, who had written about “How The Futureproof PR can embrace the opportunities of SEO”.

Darryl started by making the point that SEO is as much about creative and content capabilities as it is about the technical aspect but that in the PR industry, many agencies are facing the challenge that SEO agencies are “eating their lunch” and so they need to respond by either hiring or acquiring the relevant expertise – something that some agencies are already acting upon, following the news that Threepipe had acquired Spot Digital back in July.

The key for SEO and PR to best work together is to stop treating them as separate things, according to Darryl, and to start calling it integrated communications. He explained that there are a number of factors that could affect your Search Engine rankings, such as the back-link profile (how many links are from quality domains) and what keywords you are optimising for, as this has a messaging implication because, if all of your external messaging is around a particular aspect of your product set that no one is searching for online, then you are going to have an SEO problem and perhaps a messaging problem as well.

Darryl believes PR should be leading the relationship with SEO simply because 50% of what influences search engine ranking positions is links from high quality third party websites.

To finish off, Darryl provided a number of resources to learn more about SEO:

Chapter 20 – Procurement (23.15)

For the final interview of show, I was joined by Tina Fegent, an independent procurement consultant, whose chapter in the book is titled “Speaking the language of Procurement”.

Tina’s chapter opens with a quote from Astronaut, John Glenn, which I thought perfectly summed up what I would expect is a general perception of procurement:

“As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind – every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder.”

Indeed, Tina said that the feedback she gets from many agencies that she deals with is that procurement is always focussed on the lowest costs, and she agreed that some are. However, there are other things, such as value, ROI and PR coverage that drive procurement when dealing with PR agencies, that Tina said she wanted to explain though her chapter in the book.

Tina suggests finding out how the procurement teams that you deal with are targeted, as it’s not always necessarily on cost savings. However, she explained that procurement’s role is to manage the supplier base and to make sure they are maximising value and reducing risk. The process therefore involves the following steps:

  1. Decide between make versus buy (does the company insource or outsource)
  2. If outsourcing, manage the tender/pitch process
  3. Negotiate with shortlisted agency
  4. Manage the selected agency
  5. Regular reviews (ideally 360) with agency

One interesting aspect of my chat with Tina was about RFPs and whether start-ups or relatively new agencies have any chance of getting through the process given the procurement team of a major corporation will probably expect to see around three years of audited accounts from anyone looking to pitch. If that is the case, Tina’s advice is to be brave and actually make a decision as to whether it’s worth going through the detailed process (some RFPs could be 40 pages) and weeks of someone’s time against the opportunity cost of that senior person’s time, if they are the one filling in the form. However, if you are going to pitch but don’t have the right number of years audited accounts, then, according to Tina, you should just be open and explain your situation, but perhaps back it up with a letter from your bank manager, for example. Basically, don’t be scared by the documentation and explain wherever there is a dip in profits if, for example, it was because you moved premises. Don’t let the procurement team interpret your responses and make their own assumptions, as they could of course be wrong.

A version of this article titledFuturePRoof Edition Two Book Launch” originally appeared on the Csuite Podcasts website. You can keep the conversation going on Twitter around these podcasts using #csuitepodcast. To connect with Russell head to LinkedIn, follow him @russgoldsmith or contact him via the Audere Communications website.


Russell Goldsmith

Russell Goldsmith is the founder of marketing consultancy Audere Communications and a trainer for the PRCA. He had previously spent 16 years as digital and social media director of broadcast communications specialists markettiers4dc. He is currently producing The csuitepodcast series available on Soundcloud, itunes and at