Public relations is the practice of systematically reaching out to the press in hopes of generating favorable publicity or media coverage for a person, product, company or concept.

Search engine marketing is the practice of researching and using words highly searched by online consumers in hopes of increasing the visibility of a website or brand online.

Formal P.R. traces its roots back 100 years. SEO is only as old as the Web’s commercial applications.

Yet by effectively combining these two marketing disciplines, a marketer can improve the power of the press release or a media outreach campaign by ensuring it more effectively reaches its target audience across the universe of search-generated outreach.

To many traditional practitioners, public or media relations (the two terms are rather synonymous) is a powerful, yet narrowly executed marketing endeavor. Write a press release, distribute it through the normal channels by traditional mail, electronic mail or fax, and follow up with a phone call. It’s been that way for a generation or longer.

Some business owners or managers are familiar with search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) – also two rather synonymous terms. Their Webmasters often encourage them to relate keywords or phrases most frequently used to describe or define the product or company’s category. This can help empower the site’s online visibility as measured by prospects’ search efforts.

With SEO / SEM-driven P.R., a skilled media practitioner uses specialized analytical applications and strategies to discern and develop the exact terms or phrases being searched for by the target audience. Those “keywords” then are infused throughout the press release. Only then is the release distributed to key media organizations and influential outlets across the Internet.

For example, imagine a law firm practices product liability focused on harmful construction materials and resulting illnesses, like asbestos and mesothelioma. Terms like “asbestos,” “mesothelioma,” “lung cancer,” “lawyer,” “lawsuits,” and the like would be researched in various combinations using keyword analytics and search tools to discover the most popular or highly searched combinations. Those phrases then would be written into the headline and body copy of the press release.

Though P.R. outdates SEO/SEM by generations, the two are inextricably linked in pursuit of integrated marketing efforts designed to boost a company’s visibility among its online customers. Together, they empower P.R. and keyword marketing like never before.