Integrate slowly and work to limit conflict between teams. Model asking questions, listening, and compromise to encourage these between the teams.
Before imposing changes, ask why a team is currently doing a task a certain way. Often there’s an underlying logic that isn’t immediately obvious, and pushing a specific way of doing things can create defensiveness and anger.
A common issue in PR-SEO integrations is that PR teams hate having loads of links shoved in their press releases. Journalists and publishers don’t like it either, because it impacts coverage. SEO teams, on the other hand, want the links to build domain authority. Simply arguing causes the teams to build emotional walls against cooperation. But asking what type of links would be acceptable can help the teams find a compromise – and perhaps build specialty content to meet the need.
Draft a glossary of SEO, content marketing, and PR terms to help each team understand each other’s work and nuances.
A glossary creates a common language that enables multiple teams to work together. For example, the SEO team might not know the nature or significance of a boilerplate, while the PR team might not understand the importance of anchor text in links. A common understanding enables both teams to help work towards each other’s goals.
Hold weekly 20–30-minute combined stand-up meetings with the teams, in which each participant describes their current work and tasks in common terms.
You can also take this one step further by asking each person to explain one term or concept that they think the rest of the team could benefit from knowing, further building a shared language and understanding.
Move your teams physically closer together to ease daily collaboration and better integrate workflows.
If everyone is on the same floor, getting together for an impromptu meeting becomes easier. Members of the team will also overhear things more easily and join in the conversations, making it more natural to suggest new ideas or optimize work from their own perspectives. The physical proximity removes pressure on a successful collaboration, making it more informal and natural in the process.
Create joint reports that show metrics for both teams, and show how each work towards joint goals and outcomes.
For example, the PR team could start to measure inbound links from their work, even though the metric is targeted toward the SEO team. Over time, the teams become aware of each other’s specialties and interested in each other’s metrics, engaging more in work that leads to success on a broader, more integrated scale.
Schedule quarterly meetings about the types of content that teams are producing and where on the website it is hosted. Assess the organization of content placement.
It’s really important that we avoid cannibalizing goals when we’re integrating with strategies. Quite often, as teams evolve, a lot of information can get scattered around a website.
Write a process for running integrated projects. Include handoffs from one team to the other, with the information that needs to be passed along.
This passing off strategy also defines swimlanes, in which no one steps on each other’s responsibility within the larger team. The PR team doesn’t worry about their big contacts being contacted by people that don’t know them yet, while the SEO team can focus on more targeted opportunities that still have a significant impact on search equity.
For example, after a big piece of PR launches, the SEO team can help to enhance that content through a more in-depth, visual presentation on the website that press contacts and the general audience can engage with. The SEO team can also build supplementary content that becomes a natural context to link to on the more centralized general media pitch.