Using Google in PR: Outside of the Simple Search

04.17.2013 | Heather Campbell

Google (and search engines in general) have become entrenched in our day-to-day lives. “I’ll Google it” is a common phrase when a query goes unanswered. I personally look to the search engine daily to find everything from recommended reading material to recipe blogs.

Making effective use of Google requires knowing how to use it. Learning the basics of keywords and putting phrases inside quotation marks can help narrow down results immensely. I recently saw PR Daily’s post, “3 Simple Ways to Boost PR Using Google,” and it made me consider the Google features I find most useful in the practice of PR: Google News search and Google Alerts.

Google News

As an assistant account executive, I frequently use the Google News feature to compile and recap news coverage for clients, prepare share of voices or see what journalists have written about recently.

To use Google News, simply search a subject (for example: “Big Data”), then click “More”> “News”. You’ll now have a wide selection of articles about Big Data, from sources Google has predetermined to be editorial (no spam or random mentions, theoretically). You can then filter this content even more by selecting “Search tools” and indicating in what timeframe you’d like the news to be filtered, and whether you’d like to search news or blogs for these keywords.

This feature can be useful in a variety of ways. If you’re writing a pitch about Big Data, for example, and are not sure what the current perception is of the topic in the news, you’ll quickly be able to access recent news articles from which to draw. If you’re searching for journalists covering a topic, you now have that information as well.

Additionally, if you’re curious about what type of editorial coverage a competitor has received in the past month, this is an excellent way to find high profile articles using a company name as a keyword.

However, I will note that if you’re trying to determine metrics around editorial coverage (article mentions, etc.) Google News does not necessarily report all results. For detailed coverage recaps, I recommend combining Google News with Google Search and Google Alerts to make sure you’re not missing anything Google may have sorted out of its news section.

Google Alerts

For those not familiar with the tool, Google Alerts is a subscription service that sends an email notification whenever a certain word or phrase is mentioned online. This might be anywhere – in the news, in advertisements, on a website or in a blog. For companies, it’s useful to know what information is out there about a brand, its competitors and the industry.

In public relations, Google Alerts can be useful for a few different things. I typically make it a best practice to sign up for a Google Alert for a client, its competitors and the industry it’s in as soon as we start work on the business. This allows me to receive information every day about who’s writing about an industry or what events are going on, flag mentions and recommend responses of brand mentions online, and quickly uncover opportunities (for example, relevant events, journalists covering an industry or a client’s competitors).

In addition to being a resource to stay informed, Google Alerts can create an archive of monthly mentions for a client and/ or its competitors, if you’re charged with preparing coverage recaps or a share of voice.

Google Alerts does not contain the same source filters that Google News does, and often catches things a Google News search may not. Moreover, they’re automated, so you’re informed without having to do any research of your own.

As technology continues to evolve, it’s easy to miss out on some of the tools available at our fingertips. Google News and Google Alerts are an easy and effective way to make use of the search engine to enhance PR efforts.

For more on Google News & Alerts, see:

Heather Campbell


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Filed under: COMMUNIQUÉ PR, Execution, Monitor and Measure, PR trends, Technology

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