The Timeline and the Inevitable
Since the birth of online reputation management, PR and ORM have both been perceived and implemented as two separate undertakings. Today, more often than not, aspects of these two undertakings overlap and complement each other, resulting in a more powerful and far-reaching message. Over the past 20 years we have seen these two strategies align themselves and it’s inevitable that the two will eventually merge and provide a full-scale solution.
A Brief Description of the Two Practices
Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organisations and their publics. Public relations can also be defined as the practice of managing communication between an organisation and its publics. This is often achieved via the distribution of related stories through popular news outlets.
Online reputation management (ORM)is the practice of crafting strategies that shape or influence the public perception of an organisation, individual or other entity on the Internet. It helps drive public opinion about a business and its products and services. High value keywords such as brand name searches or personal name searches are often targeted.
The Common Problem
From reading the two definitions above one would imagine that when a company/individual is experiencing some kind of crisis, PR and ORM companies would frequently work in tandem… but that’s not always the case. It often gets rather strategic and to the annoyance of the customer there is often a lot of jostling for position, as people and companies only have budget for one of the above services and they will opt for either or.
At the moment, when the two operate together it’s somewhat a marriage of convenience. It’s quite simple in my opinion: ORM needs PR and PR needs ORM.
Why Does ORM Need PR?
More often than not the objective of an ORM campaign is to influence the search results of high value keywords by creating and promoting positive content both old and new.
For less competitive keywords (500 searches or less) a basic content creation ORM campaign can be sufficient. This involves optimising popular social media sites and carefully curating content to sit on blogs and purchased domains.
An alternative strategy is needed for more competitive keywords such as brand names and the names of high profile individuals. A newly created blog or social media profile isn’t sufficient; for optimum impact on difficult keywords ORM needs strong, relevant and unique content to work with. What better content than credible stories covered by national news? With their contacts and expertise these are often the pieces that quality PR agencies are able to deliver.
Why Does PR Need ORM?
Quite often the objective of a PR campaign is to distribute relevant - and in many cases, positive - news stories about a brand or individual in order to influence the public perception of the organisation or person.
To have a focused article published in a national newspaper is a result in itself, as it will be seen by a significant number of people. However, the impact should only start there and a strategic online campaign should be implemented to complement such pieces. That same article should be shared intensively on social media platforms, it should be optimised so it appears on Google's natural search results for desired keywords (so it receives high volume traffic), and it should be added to a Wikipedia page if one exists. The opportunities online for good PR are near enough limitless but the right knowledge and expertise is needed to achieve optimum results.
What of the future?
The internet has made the saying “today’s news is tomorrows chip paper” no longer relevant and this can be both a positive or a negative for individuals and companies. As the line of communication to the public changes so should the strategy used to communicate to them. The best solution would require a dual approach of traditional PR and Online Reputation Management.
We have seen the ORM space grow significanly over the past 17 years and it is now a multi billion pound industry, offcourse this is dwarfed by the figures that Public Relations generates. Today with their common goals we are seeing more and more overlapping between the 2 services.
As pictured in the image above it is only a matter of time before the 2 services become 1 indefinitely. When the inevitable does occur, from first-hand experience we can say without any doubt the end user is the beneficiary.