So, there’s been a lot of talk in the industry recently about how Google has ‘killed the PR industry’. I couldn’t disagree more, so let’s take a look at this ‘theory’ in more detail. Firstly, pretty much all of the articles I’ve read about this have been written by people who clearly have no understanding of how the PR industry works as they all seem to have come to the conclusion that because Google says to no-follow links in press releases, this means PR is dead.
Newsflash: The PR industry isn’t just press releases, in fact, they’ve been dying long before Google got involved.
All of this talk seems to have been sparked by Matt Cutts (Head of the web spam team at Google) when he referred to updated guidelines saying that “links with optimised anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites” would be considered unnatural links and a violation of their guidelines.
For a start, no PR I have ever met would even think about putting an anchor text link in a press release so this is not aimed at the PR industry. This is aimed at SEOs who have previously crammed a load of anchor text links into a press release (which, let’s face it – probably didn’t contain any real news) and then spun it out on news wires, that again, probably aren’t even monitored by real journalists.
The kind of press releases that real PRs send out would not go out on a news wire and would not contain anchor text links (in all honesty, most PRs still don’t know what an anchor text link is!).
It’s also worth pointing out that talk about ‘the press release being dead’ has been circling the PR industry for years (or, at least over the past five years that I’ve been working within the PR industry) so this is not a new theory just because Google has updated its guidelines, shockingly, Google actually isn’t king in the PR industry.
The real reason that press releases are, or have been dying is because journalists (the intended recipients for releases) just simply don’t like them. Journalists now, and probably always did, want personalised approaches with content that is relevant to them and their audience. Rarely would a PR campaign centre around the use of a press release, as PR is all about relationships which you just cannot create with a press release.
Further proof that Google isn’t killing the PR industry comes in Google’s newest update in which it has introduced ‘in-depth articles’ in the SERPs; chances are, a lot of these articles will be as a result of some contact with a PR at some stage. So I see this as great news for PRs as actually, it seems Google is rewarding real PR activity.
There always seems to be talk these days of some industry or part of an industry dying; just last month the Guardian told us that SEO was dead however, as my colleagues Tim and Patrick say – it’s not search engine optimisation that’s dead, it’s search engine manipulation that’s dead.
I personally don’t see the PR or SEO industries dying for a long time and these stories usually seem to be coming from scared, spammy SEOs whose tactics are being hit and are therefore panicking about what to do. Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments below.