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Jonathan Bernstein crisis communications, crisis management, crisis preparation, Crisis Prevention, crisis public relations, search engine optimization, SEO, social media Leave a Comment

It’s not voodoo – SEO pays by preventing crises

My dear mother forwarded me an email today with the subject line, “Target Says “Veterans do not meet our area of giving.”  It was one of those emails that had been flashed around the world and the string was filled with vows to never shop again at Target.

According to the email, “Recently we asked the local TARGET store to be a proud sponsor of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall during our spring recognition event. We received the following reply from the local TARGET management:  ‘Veterans do not meet our area of giving. We only donate to the arts, social action groups, gay & lesbian causes, and education.’ ”

Five things entered my mind at that moment:  1) I’m a veteran. 2)  I shop at Target. 3) I recall Target made headlines last Christmas for not allowing the Salvation Army to chime bells outside their store fronts. 4) Such an act of affronting veterans is a sure path to a PR crisis that even a large corporation couldn’t possibly botch.  5) I don’t believe everything I read on the Interweb.

So I did a quick search, which demonstrated to me that both PR and SEO have a role in modern crisis communications.

A search for “target” and “veterans” and saw five links disproving the contention made in that email.  The first three links were to venerable Web-myth-busting sites Snopes and Urban Legends.  Links four and five were to Target’s own site dedicated to veterans, which featured a brief stating that Target was named a “2011 Top 20 Military Friendly Company” by head-hunting giant Orion.

This story, from a Sword and the Script blog post, is a perfect example of why it pays to invest in search engine optimization (SEO) as part of your PR or crisis management campaigns. While having a site dedicated to veterans is not only a service to those who serve our country, but also a solid PR move, it could easily be lost in the shuffle if Target had not spent time and money improving search engine positioning for all of its pages.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to be a massive organization like Target to take advantage of SEO. To make things very basic, your position in Google results has a direct correlation to how often other pages link to your homepage. You can actually get this started for free by linking to your own page via a blog and sharing links among peers or others in the same niche, but don’t expect instant results. It takes consistent effort, updates, and networking to land yourself on the front page.

The BCM Blogging Team

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