Sure, after reading the above title, you probably immediately thought publicity activities support far more than SEO. Without a doubt that’s true. We’ve always been a huge fan of activities that create or cause publicity (public awareness), particularly ones that lead to online or print coverage like pitching a story to appropriate reporters/media, or sending them a press release. Publicity tends to be a fairly “free” means of creating awareness, or driving sales or engagement, although there’s the cost of time spent drafting a press release or a pitch, and then, time spent outreaching to various media. And, if you use a media service to distribute your press release or there’s an event associated with the publicity, there’s those additional costs. Still, publicity can be far less costly than buying advertising.
The SEO Pay-off of Pitches and Press Releases
But, the purpose of this blog post is not to discuss ALL the merits and benefits of implementing publicity tactics, but rather it’s specifically about why and how publicity activities can support your organization being found on Google, which is what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about. When a news publication or some other organization either publishes information you shared with them in a press release or writes a story (based on a story you pitched them and their interviewing one or several individuals associated with your organization), and then shares it on their website or blog, they’ll almost always include what’s known as a backlink to your organization’s website.
As we discussed in our blog post about the benefits of backlinks, a link to your website or blog — placed on the website or blog of an external organization — increases the likelihood that Google will serve your website up in search results (and higher up in results) as long as the website/blog that is providing the backlink is considered reputable/creditable by Google. This is how publicity directly influences SEO.
But, even if individuals reading the online article/post about you don’t click on a backlink to visit your site, they may Google you later or type the URL they see in an article directly into their browser or search engine and visit your site via those means vs. the backlink. The aforementioned holds particularly true for printed articles, such as articles that appear in a newspaper or magazine. Regardless of how visitors get to/land on your online site or blog, increased traffic volume supports SEO. In general, Google views sites that have greater traffic volumes as ones that are more creditable/reputable, and Google prefers to serve up the aforementioned types of sites. This is how publicity may less directly influence SEO.
In sum, both print and online story and press release coverage can support SEO, even if the support is less direct!
Reach Out To Our Boston SEO Company To Talk About The Overlap Between SEO and Publicity
A former manager of mine used to say I was a great “bird dogger.” Believe me, it took some painful lessons to realize that just because I assumed co-workers were moving time-sensitive/critical-path work forward, it didn’t mean they were. Sometimes, particularly when you are just starting out in the corporate work world, you need to get “bitten” a few times, to acquire and employ new skills.
Getting back to the bird dogging. At our Boston-area digital marketing agency and SEO company, we believe that any and all marketing agencies and marketing consultants should serve as both strategic partners and accountability partners. Read on to learn why it’s so critical to sales, marketing, and SEO success, and to assess whether or not your marketing agency or consultant serves as both types of partners.
Why Your Marketing Agency Must Be A Strategic Partner
Whether you’re a small business owner with no marketing staff and you’ve outsourced your marketing strategy and/or your hands-on marketing work to a marketing agency or consultant, or you’re a mid-sized business that has a small in-house marketing team, it’s likely you and your team are far too busy to stay on top of cutting-edge marketing tactics and tools. Particularly as pertains to digital marketing, available opportunities/tactics change constantly, and there are such a large number of broad digital marketing categories (as indicated on our digital marketing services website page), that it would be impossible for you and your team to be experts in all available digital marketing topics, like SEO, social media advertising, Google Ads, etc.
I’ve mentioned this numerous times in blog posts and on Results C & R’s website pages, but when I launched my digital marketing agency and SEO company in 2014, I launched it with this tagline and philosophy: “Maximizing Results Through Research-Supported Marketing.” I always say I will never encourage an existing or prospective client to begin or continue with a marketing tactic that doesn’t make sense for them, based on secondary or primary data. That’s why I regularly ask prospective clients to let me look at their Google Analytics data before they engage me for work, and that’s why, for many of my clients, I track their digital marketing KPIs on a monthly basis and review results with them. Then, we talk about implications and what tactics we’ll put in place/what steps we’ll take to try to move the sales, inquiries, engagement, etc. (conversions) needle by the next time we meet. Often, it’s tiny steps, but steps we think make sense even if they only lead to slow progress as far as conversions go. Progress is progress, right?
Ask Yourself The Following To Determine If Your Marketing Agency Is A Strategic Partner:
Does your marketing agency document the above results/analysis and meet with you and your team regularly to review implications?
Does your marketing agency try to learn on your dime — therefore, are they charging you for the time they spend on educating themselves on a new marketing tactic, tool, or opportunity? They shouldn’t.
Does your marketing agency let you know if there is something you aren’t doing right and/or could be handling better on the marketing front, regardless of whether they are doing work for you related to it?
Does your marketing agency let you know when they don’t think a particular marketing tactic/opportunity is the right fit for your organization?
Does your marketing agency only recommend services they themselves offer, or will they recommend services/opportunities from which you’d benefit, even if it means they need to collaborate with/pull in another expert or strategic partner or refer you to somebody else?
Is your marketing agency regularly recommending new possible marketing opportunities to you?
Related to the above bullet, do you get the sense that your marketing agency wants to use you as a “guinea pig” to try out the latest-fad marketing activity or tool, even if it might not be the right fit for your organization? If so, that’s certainly not a win-win situation!
Why Your Marketing Agency Needs To Be Your Accountability Partner
So, here’s the questions you should ask to determine whether or not your marketing agency or consultant is a true accountability partner and the real tie-in to bird dogging reference at the beginning of this post.
If your marketing agency needs you to review something or provide information to move their work for you forward, do they reach out regularly for status updates and to remind you to ensure critical deadlines are met?
Does your marketing agency send you an e-mail after a meeting documenting what work you or your team are responsible for completing before your next meeting?
When your marketing agency senses that you are unable (for a variety of reasons) to review documents, provide information to inform their work for you, or complete hands-on work yourself, do they reach out and offer to help or to talk you thru what’s needed via a phone or Zoom call? Do, they do the aforementioned on a timely basis so that time-sensitive deadlines and deliverables are met?
I was talking with fellow marketing consultants this week and shared this famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire related to effective client-agency relationships, i.e., working collaboratively to move work forward, both successfully and efficiently: “Help Me, Help You.”
Does Your Marketing Agency Act Like Part Of Your Team?
Ultimately to determine if your existing marketing agency or marketing consultant or a prospective one is the right fit, in addition to the strategic-partner and accountability-partner questions above, you should ask yourself, does my agency treat me with respect and like a partner. Do I feel like my agency is as committed or even more committed than I am to my organization’s success? Does may agency feel like part of our team, and in some ways like family? Meaning, they’d do anything for you to help you succeed and only want the best for you?
I hope and believe that clients or prospective clients asking themselves any of the many questions outlined above arrive at answers that make them confident that the Results C & R team is both a strategic and an accountability partner and that we have our clients’ best interests are at the heart of everything we do!
Regardless of the size of your organization, it can be confusing to figure out what type of marketing agency or marketing consultant to hire to help you create awareness, and ultimately cause sales of your products, services, and solutions. The ability to market digitally/electronically — that came with wide-spread adoption of the internet — brought with it the following changes when it came to organizations engaging outside help for their marketing (outsourcing their marketing), whether it be for one-off/one-time work or ongoing work.
How Digital Marketing Leveled The Playing Field For Both Advertisers and Ad Agencies
Organizations who couldn’t afford the high costs associated with producing TV, radio, transit, or outdoors (billboards or other) advertising, found new, more affordable marketing activities were now available to them in the form of social media posting and advertising, tactics that support websites being found on Google and other search engines for desirable search phrases (organic search tactics/SEO tactics), paid search engine ads/marketing (SEM), e-blast and e-mail marketing, and more.
Since many organizations looking for marketing help no longer required the infrastructure and diverse skillsets associated with marketing tactics that involved large production activities and costs, some realized they no longer needed to hire a full-service large advertising agency — think the type of agency featured in the acclaimed TV series, “Mad Men,” or on “BeWitched,” as smaller marketing shops, like ours, could meet their digital marketing needs and/or traditional marketing needs related to activities that don’t require a lot of production, such as Public Relations (PR), or print advertising.
How To Figure Out What Type Of Marketing Firm To Hire And Questions To Ask
Branding and Design Firm. A firm that refers to themselves as a branding/brand and design firm primarily focuses on helping you figure out the look and feel of your brand, including the logo, colors, and graphic elements that will be associated with your brand. They usually offer website design services, but not always. And, some do offer other digital marketing or traditional marketing services thru collaborations or partnerships with digital marketing agencies, advertising agencies, or marketing consultants, or marketing freelancers. So, if you know you will need particular digital and/or traditional marketing services after working with the branding firm to develop or execute a new brand identify for you, ask in advance if they offer those services, so you will know whether you will have the burden of hunting around after for someone to help with traditional and digital marketing services — particularly to drive traffic to any new site you engage them to design for you.
Digital Marketing Agency. Digital marketing agencies tend to offer both higher-level strategic planning services, as well as hands-on/execution services, related to any marketing tactic that is digital or electronic related, including: e-blast/e-mail strategy and execution services, social media strategy and voice (actually writing and scheduling of social media posts), online advertising (social media/display advertising, Google Ads or other search engine advertising), blog strategy and voice work (actually writing and posting of blogs to your website), and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Most will offer content marketing services as well to help you figure out what content your target audiences are most interested in, and an editorial calendar for serving up such content on your website. Website content writing services likely will be available as well.
Marketing Consultant. In the almost nine years since we launched Results C & R, we’ve met a large number of marketing consultants. The degree to which they offer hands-on/execution work vs. developing high-level strategic plans tends to really vary. Some offer a number of hands-on services, in addition to helping you develop a strategic marketing plan, while others don’t do the actual marketing tactic execution work. If your organization has a number of internal marketing people who can actually oversee or execute the marketing plan developed by a consultant, a marketing consultant may be just what and all that you need.
Public Relations Firm/PR Firm. The focus of public relations firms is to get your organization unpaid-for-advertising/marketing. By helping your organization develop a strategy for causing various reporters and media to cover your story, they help your organization get mentions and attention without the cost of an expensive advertising campaign. PR firms also tend to offer event planning services since an event may be the perfect way to create awareness of your organization and/or create good will among your target audiences. Keep in mind that if you only need help with putting on an event vs. getting regular/ongoing press coverage, you could consider hiring an event planning firm. Many event planning firms also have experience getting media/reporter coverage for an event as well.
In general, the biggest overlap between a digital marketing agency and a Public Relations firm is that they both tend to offer social media services, since social media posts — particularly organic vs. paid/boosted social media posts — can help to generate good will and create awareness of an organization’s products, services, and solutions.
Advertising Agency. Nowadays, when people think of, or decide to hire an advertising agency vs. a digital marketing agency, it’s related to the fact that advertising agencies can pull in the right team members or hire the right contractors for a marketing campaign that requires heavy-duty production. As we mentioned above, scripting and executing a radio, TV (network or cable) or streaming advertisement requires the collaboration of a bunch of individuals with diverse skillsets, the renting of studios and/or locations in which to film, the hiring of “talent” for the broadcast spot — whether it be aired on the radio or TV. Activities like the aforementioned are often the reason why, in our current day and age, an organization would look to hire an advertising agency vs. a digital marketing agency. Although, most advertising agencies offer digital marketing services, in addition to traditional ones.
Web Design/Web Development Firm. Web design and web development firms are exactly what their name indicates — firms who help design and develop websites for clients. Many also offer logo design or other graphic design services because of their web designers’ ability to successfully complete such work. All web design/web development firms DO NOT offer SEO services nor do they always understand SEO, so if you expect or want to receive SEO services as part of your new website launch, be sure to ask any firms you are considering to design and develop your site, what knowledge they have of SEO and/or who they have on their team that has an SEO background. Otherwise, as we explain in this blog post, you’ll end up with a website that is not easily found via search engine searches.
Unfortunately, we regularly interact with prospective clients who had someone develop a beautiful, effective site for them, but the site is not being visited/found by target audiences because SEO tactics weren’t put in place by the web design/web development firm as part of the site development and design engagement.
What Should I Expect To Pay A Marketing Agency Or A Marketing Consultant?
Based, again, on our 9 years of marketing agency and marketing consulting experience at the time of writing this post, we’ve found that, in general, the bigger the agency/marketing shop, the more expensive their hourly rate and marketing project fees are. Why? It mainly comes down to overhead and the costs of maintaining and marketing a larger organization, offering a large number of employees benefits, etc.
We’re A Boston Digital Marketing Agency, Boston SEO Company, Boston Marketing Consultant, and Boston PR Firm All In One!
Due to our Principal’s more than 30 years of corporate marketing and consulting experience, we offer all the services called out in the heading directly above! We regularly meet with both start-ups and long-standing organizations — both for-profit and non-profit — for complimentary discussions about their marketing challenges and opportunities, so feel free to use our calendar app to schedule a FREE initial consultation https://calendly.com/gail-moraski.
We’ve had discussions about the subject of this blog post quite a number of times with individuals about to graduate from college or graduate school, or who have recently graduated from such programs. There’s no blanket right or wrong answer, but we’ve outlined below the pros and cons of working at an in-house marketing department vs. a digital marketing agency, advertising advertising, or PR firm to help you figure out what’s right for you.
Pro’s and Con’s Of Working In A Corporate Marketing Role/At In-House Marketing Department
We’ll start with the Pro’s!
Your work is focused on the needs of one organization (and possibly some affiliate organizations) only. That means you can really get to know and understand in-detail the specific opportunities and challenges your organization faces.
You or fellow in-house marketing department team members are responsible for the successful execution and oversight of each and every marketing & communications tactic, including PR. Even if your organization employs an external advertising agency, digital marketing agency, or PR firm, you or someone in your organization will need to serve as the liaison with that external organization and review and approve any marketing or PR tactics with which the organization has been charged.
Because an in-house marketing team tends to hold regular meetings to discuss the various marketing and communications activities on which each team member is working, even if you aren’t responsible for a particular activity, you have the big/full picture of all the active and planned/future marketing and PR initiatives for your organization. You also have the opportunity to learn a lot during these meetings.
Depending on the size of your in-house marketing department, you may have the opportunity to learn how to execute a large variety of traditional and digital marketing tactics, and how to analyze the results of them.
You’ll likely have a chance to collaborate with individuals in other departments related to rolling out new marketing initiatives, such as IT and Customer Service employees.
There’s usually an obvious career path, particularly if the marketing department is large. Often the path is from marketing coordinator to marketing specialist to marketing manager to marketing director to chief marketing officer (CMO) or Vice President or Senior Vice President of Marketing.
Your manager is usually aware of everything you have on your plate, will likely not expect you to regularly stay late or work excessive hours, and will likely delegate an appropriate amount of work so that it can be accomplished during normal business hours. Related to this, there will likely be fewer unexpected marketing and PR emergencies!
And now, the con’s!
While also stated above as a pro of working in a corporate marketing department, you only get to develop and execute marketing activities specific to one organization (and possibly its affiliates). That means you only get to complete marketing work related to one particular industry. And, you don’t get exposed to innovative marketing tactics and results tracking that are used in other industries that you could apply to yours.
Depending on the size of your marketing department, there may or may not be opportunity for growth or to take on new responsibilities.
Pro’s and Con’s Of Working For A Marketing Agency or PR Firm
Post the arrival of the internet, there’s now so many different ways that individuals refer to what used to be known as an “advertising agency” or “ad agency.” Agencies specifically focused on implementing digital marketing strategies, such as website, online advertising, e-mail, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media ones, are often referred to as “digital marketing agencies.” Agencies that offer both traditional and digital marketing services (you can learn more here about traditional), tend to call themselves or be called ad agencies, advertising agencies, or marketing agencies. If a firm specializes in creating branding for websites or overall marketing use, including logos, they are often called “branding firms,” “branding & design firms,” “brand & design firms” or simply, “design firms.”
There’s also the option post-graduation to work at a PR firm, or “public relations firm” or “public relations agency.” While PR firms tend to focus on external communications and work may include press release writing, event execution, and pitching stories to media reporters, an overlap between ad agencies/digital marketing agencies that developed as result of the introduction of social media networks has to do with social media strategy development and execution. Both marketing/ad agencies and PR firms tend to offer “social media voice” services.
Phew, that was a lot of terminology! On to the pro’s of working at an agency or firm that serves marketing & communications clients.
You get to learn about the marketing & communications challenges of numerous industries, and then, can apply best practices from a client in one industry to a client in another industry.
You are always learning and being exposed to something new, as even if you have several clients in one industry, they still each have their product & service nuances, ways of doing business, marketplace/competition, etc. that you need to understand.
As with an in-house marketing job, your agency likely will hold regular meetings to discuss everything that the agency has on its client work plate, so there should be lots of opportunities for learning.
Agencies tend to encourage brainstorming which is always a lot of fun and keeps the creative juices flowing.
As with a corporate marketing role, there likely will be a career path at whatever marketing agency or PR firm at which you work. You might start out as a coordinator or specialist (doing day-to-day/hands-on tasks to support a particular client), but eventually have the opportunity to become an account manager or vice president. In those latter roles, you likely will have more interaction with the client.
As with in-house marketing jobs, the diversity of your role and your work will depend on the size of your organization. The bigger the organization, the more specialized your role will be; but, regardless, you should still have the opportunity to learn about a number of tradtional and digital marketing tactics and results analysis best practices.
If you have direct interaction with clients, you get the satisfaction of feeling like a member of their team — clients become your co-workers along with any agency co-workers you may already have.
And, now the cons of working at a marketing agency or PR firm:
Clients often have marketing and PR emergencies. This may cause you to need to regularly rethink or re-jigger what you planned to accomplish on the work front on any given day.
Because you aren’t a member of a client’s in-house marketing team, you may not always have access to all the important, beneficial, and business-critical information you want or need. Of course, you can ask to have information shared with you, but sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know, and clients may be so busy they forget to share with you.
You may not be able to enjoy the same satisfaction you would get from being involved with or aware of each & every marketing and communications tactic that an organization has planned or has implemented. You don’t always have access to or see the big picture as clearly as if you worked in-house at the client.
Ad agencies, branding & design shops, and PR firms tend to be pretty fast-paced and you may need to work long hours, or suddenly change social or personal plans because of an unexpected client emergency.
We are pleased and proud at Results C & R to have hired and taught numerous college and graduate-school students and post-graduation individuals about what it’s like to work at a Boston digital marketing agency and Boston SEO company. We love passing our marketing and PR knowledge on to the next generation and enjoy brainstorming with individuals interested in pursuing a marketing career to help them figure out what type of marketing & communications might best support their interests, passions, and lifestyle.