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Don’t short-cut the shortcut—in the long run, well-told stories rule SEO roost

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Have you ever had someone take five minutes to explain why they don’t have any time to meet with you—when all you could spare was two minutes of your own time, anyhow?

Or what about the guy who turns on the creative juices to avoid doing essential work that requires one-quarter of the brainpower that he expended in weaseling out of the task?

The same maddening approach is at play with publicists and marketers contorting content as they feast their eyes squarely on the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) implications. Instead, our efforts are more amply rewarded if we simply do the work of creating content that is—hold your breath now—actually newsworthy.

Rather than try to anticipate key words that will attract prospective customers, publicists are so much better off focusing their energies on telling engaging, relevant stories. Should we always be on the look-out for our clients’ wants? Absolutely, but at the same time we must be alert to where those wants intersect with the media’s need for genuine news.

There are a variety of ingredients that go into a successful media-relations campaign, but here are some of the most prominent ones to keep in mind as you think through and develop storylines on behalf of your PR client:

Timeliness

Now that it’s summer, it’s time to start thinking about fall. Last October, it was prime time to get the word out about "Hire Our Heroes," an initiative that honored companies employing military veterans, such as Chad Smolios of George's CARSTAR in Chicago.

And is there a milestone anniversary coming up for your client or its industry? Remember, the media tend to be “5 times” fans—that is, any anniversary that is a multiple of five.

Localization

It’s smart to consider the global potential for your client, but always remember to bring it back to the local scene. With local tie-ins, there’s much less competition and much more interest.

A follow-up feature story on the ongoing success of Tracey and Kimberly Eaton, Amway Diamonds and World Wide Group organizational leaders, is so much more apt to spark interest in the areas where they attended college (Portland State and Arizona State, respectively) or where Tracey played professional football (Houston, Phoenix and Atlanta) than in parts of the country where they have little or no roots or sustained connection.

Controversy and/or Conflict

Whether it’s LeBron James’ surprising decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, or the zoning brouhaha flaring up over that proposed tattoo shop down the street, people feed off of the two Cs: controversy and conflict.

Identify the controversies and conflicts faced by your client and chart a course for telling its story through those raging Cs.

In other words, with these and other aspects of effective story-telling, don’t “shortcut the short-cut.” If you do, then you may well find, sooner or later, that you have an even longer way to go.

A June 17th story in Ragan’s PR Daily headlined “Is Google’s new algorithm apocalyptic for PR wire services?” underscores the perils of trying to manipulate search engines with keyword cleverness.

“The overall trend of Google’s updates is to make it harder for webmasters to try to “game” the system, “writes Gijs Nelissen. Google’s goal is to keep searchers satisfied, and one way they do that is by ensuring searches present relevant results that carry high-quality content. Content farms and sites with low-quality content get shut out.”

And when those going-through-the-motion posers get shut out, guess who gains a larger foothold on the SEO playing field? That’s right—those who are actually in the game of crafting good stories that strive to serve more than just their clients.

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