Public Relations Tactics

Danny Sullivan on search, social and Google Glass

August 6, 2013

After welcome remarks from PRSA President and COO William M. Murray, CAE, Danny Sullivan, founding editor of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land gave the opening keynote address at the PRSA 2013 Digital Impact Conference, “The New Face of PR: How to Tap the Power of Search Engines and Social Media.”

Sullivan began his presentation by demonstrating how to use the new Google Glass and spoke on how connectivity will be critical for communicators in the future.

He noted that while he is not a PR professional, he’s been a journalist for 20 years and received many pitches, so he has “thoughts to share on the world of search and social.”

He discussed the ongoing Paula Deen PR crisis and told the audience to realize the difference between “stories read and seen on social media. Know what you said and why you retweeted it,” he said.

“Social media is media,” Sullivan said. “It is first-tier media. It’s not after-thought media; it’s not echo-chamber media. It’s not for discussing real media.”

He noted that The New York Times has more followers on social platforms than those who subscribe to the actual print version. So ask yourself: “Are you using social media to talk directly to your audience?”

Your fans may be able to help and support you within a few seconds like Deen’s did.

But be careful — search is also media, he said. What you think you have hidden on a social media platform might not really be hidden.

“People can reverse-broadcast what they want to hear,” he said. Provide links and “speak Web” rather than send a PDF of a press release.

And, remember, “SEO is like sending out press releases. Have lots of great content.”

Sullivan also suggested encouraging your executives to be on Twitter because it gives them an official presence over fake handles and because it’s easy to reference them in Twitter mentions. Also, be active on Google Plus because you’ll own more real estate and you will rank higher on Google search if people follow you on this platform, he said.

Google Authorship provides visibility benefits and can boost future rankings when you link your content, news and press releases to your profile. “If you want me to help point people to you, then give me a link,” he said.

“Don’t get cute. Live or die by your headline. Honesty is content. Get rid of buzzwords. Do your research. Be a good PR person,” Sullivan said. He closed by offering the audience a list of what he thinks good PR people do:

  • Study content, to pitch appropriately
  • Offer unique story ideas
  • React quickly and efficiently to requests
  • Offer tips and tidbits that might be useful,   even if not for an existing client
  • Are positive, fun and either enjoy the job or give that impression
  • Know Twitter is a great place to shine, so show a sense of humor

Amy Jacques

Check out #PRSADIConf as told through social media posts here, or follow @PRSAevents for news on upcoming PRSA events.


Amy Jacques

Amy Jacques is the managing editor of publications for PRSA. A native of Greenville, S.C., she holds a master’s degree in arts journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Georgia’s Grady College and a certificate in magazine and website publishing from New York University.


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