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Peter Blackshaw

Kevin: One of the important points I call out in my my "Defensive Branding" article is that few marketers take accountability for negative search results; morover, that the "Search Engine Optimization" industry (where billions and billions of dollars are spent) is anchored to reinforcing "positive" shelf versus serving as a counterweight to negative commentary impacting the "first moment of truth." But if, as I love to say, "your brand equity is the sum total of your search results," managing around the negative may be as important as accentuating the positive. Think of all the PR firms out there who represent brands in crisis and yet leave them entirely exposed at search. I actually have a new term for this -- which I'm using for the first time on YOUR blog -- and it's called a "Search Open Sore" (or SOS). SOS management by PR firms (a practice that is theirs to lose...other agencies could easily fill this void) involves buying targeted keywords against the negative, creating high-impact targeted advertising designed to divert search attention to "clarification" language, and retooling their own brand websites to ensure no-brainer obvious terms that speak to consumer concern about rumors or product malfunctions are not me with search "blanks" (which happens constantly on major brand websites). SOS can also involve trying to improve "organic" shelf-results, but realistically, that's a long-term strategy, and in a crisis you don't have the luxury of time. Let's continue this conversation. I really think this is a huge opportunity for the PR industry.

Todd Defren

Hi Kevin (and Peter) -
Totally agree. I wrote about this stuff a few weeks ago (in a difft light - mostly focused on the PR industry's *opportunity* in SEM). Interestingly, Rubel was not high on the idea, when he flagged one of these posts at MicroPersuasion. As I recall, his line about PR+SEM was along the lines of, "When is PR no longer PR?" But I whole-heartedly agree with you guys that SEM/SEO is an untapped PR issue.

If you are interested, here are some of the relevant links from my spot:


Glad to see other folks taking up this cause! I'll try to post on it again soon, too.

Kevin Dugan

Pete – SOS on the Ides of March is somehow apropos. Thanks for the important add here.

You’re right about SEO needing a broader perspective. This will come if someone wants to own it. IT gets into the code side of things, media buyers get into the keyword buys and PR is starting to get their feet wet...thanks in large part to Google’s affinity for blogs IMHO. Crisis communications represents the largest untapped opportunity for PR though as well as the most urgent need for this service.

You’ve been talking about negative keyword buys for some time now and I’m surprised more folks are not doing it. Yet many remember how, during the dotcom days, everyone advised you to buy your URL + sucks.

During my agency days, SEO was added to a budget as a sacrificial lamb. We knew we’d have to lose something in the final negotiations and this was always the first thing to go. No one understood the value and no one was selling it correctly.

This is no longer acceptable as the consumer's role in marketing continues to change the playing field. More to come. Thanks again for starting this discussion last month.

Todd Defren

Hi Kevin -
As promised in my original comment, I did a post on this today (Monday). This is something we all need to be thinking about (probably moreso than "blogger relations" in terms of our industry's long-term future).
Thanks for the fresh infusion of inspiration!

Here's the link, btw: http://pr-squared.blogspot.com/2006/03/search-tells-story.html

Stefan Engeseth

Good points, but consumers can ad more than ONE color to companies. Media in one color but, products and other facts that make the brand stay alive is maybe more important.

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