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SEO, PR, reputation management

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Wadds wrote this post about public relations and SEO which summarised a discussion on Twitter. He articulates the consumers increasingly now use a reputation funnel when making important decisions. Starting with Google and then moving on to the trusted web: this maybe social networks, micromedia like Twitter or even social bookmarking services like delicious.

This maps to a decision making model (you could chose AIDA or whatever model takes your fancy) for the purpose of this blog post I created a four-stage process:

  • Problem / brief: work out what you want, or the point at which a need is awakened
  • Research: getting that evoked set
  • Filter: chopping the evoked set down, possibly using social proof
  • Commit: make their move

Given Stephen’s description of his process you can see how the early part of the process getting information around the problem or developing the brief to base any research to develop an evoked set happens in organic search. It is immediate and results are returned in a sub-200 millisecond time by the Googleplex.

PR SEO debate

Filtering the data and committing to the decision depends on accessing either archived information from his trusted web or real-time interaction from social contacts. I think that there are also clear parallels to a brand attachment model developed from Gallup research (thanks to Richard Sedley for introducing me to this model, its usually drawn as  a pyramid with confidence as the base).

Reputation management broadly maps to the inital part of the brand attraction model: confidence and integrity. And there is also there is a clear correlation between Google’s role in the process and reputation management. Whilst I don’t believe that public relations is purely about SEO; search now has a major part to play in public relations. Campaigns still need to have a surround sound presence to be effective touching the audience through different online and offline channels.

Stuart Bruce writes that PR is about reputation and behaviour not search: he is correct, but I would argue that at least the behaviour and reputational roles in search can be measured and it is harder to see the benefit of the offline work.