This week saw a heated exchange between The Times retail and M&A editor, Deirdre Hipwell, and some SEO marketers masquerading as PRs arguing over whether links to a company's website should be included in a news story.
The exchange - which can be found on Twitter via the link below - makes fascinating and frustrating reading.
In short, the SEO/PR types believe The Times should provide backlinks to websites of companies quoted in news reports, claiming they add credibility. Predictably - and in my mind quite correctly - The Times disagreed. Being quoted in a newspaper of record as a source is credibility enough.
This is a discussion I've had countless times with digital marketers across many different sectors. Being quoted on the BBC, an op-ed in CityAM or a byline in the FT is not enough. It needs a link to be worthwhile.
PRs and particularly media relations experts understand the value of a well placed comment or editorial. But not their marketing and content colleagues. It is perhaps a mistake of our own making.
Marketing functions have become increasingly siloed and I'm not entirely sure we all really understand what other truly does.
Many businesses - and particularly those without sophisticated marketing functions - simply do not know the difference between the myriad of marketing and comms disciplines.
PRs need to educate their marketing colleagues to the true value of a line in The Times. Their SEO and content colleagues need to explore ways to make that content work for them rather than naively ask a national newspaper to include a link.
What’s the difference between “news” and “content”. I guess if you are a Search Engine Optimiser, a new breed of PR specialist sent from hell to destroy us all, you don’t think there is any. M’learned colleague Deirdre Hipwell at The Times fell foul of the SEO folk this week when she dared to get cross about PRs asking for hyperlinks to their client’s website on articles she’d written.