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10 reasons I am leaving PR consultancy to join an SEO

Today is my last day at Harvard and the Bell Pottinger Group. I'm leaving to join Spannerworks, a search engine marketing company.

What I will be doing there is looking at the spaces between social media, search, marketing and the mainstream media and building new services and tools, marcomms mash ups, if you will.

It's a very big change for me - perhaps not a move that would have occurred to me even a year ago. Now, though, as the online world turns on its axis and spins ever faster (mix those metaphors), I can't resist the logic of it.

I could, but won't, write a very long essay about why am doing this, but I thought it would be more succinct and direct to deploy that staple of the blogger's craft: the top ten list....

  1. Search is media: It's the go-between for people and the information they want or that others want to give them. Good rankings on search engines and news aggregators is becoming as important as front-page hits was for PR campaigns and for mainstream media too for that matter.
  3. Search is a reputation issue: Where and why a company or a person appears in search engine rankings for search terms that are relevant to them can affect reputation.
  5. Search engine marketing isn't just about e-commerce anymore: Where search engine optimisation (SEO) has often been mainly about ecommerce pure and simple in the past (how do I get my company to number for "cheap flights" in Google) it is now looking at its role in brand communications and the media.
  7. I need to understand search engines better: Me, personally - I really want to know how they work. As well as thinking of them as a medium because they are an important way that people navigate networks (see Adriana Cronin-Lukas's recent post on networks by the way - completely on the money).
  9. From industrial media to networks: Search engines, aggregators and networks will be the sharp end of communication, economic, political and social activity in the coming decade - as a communicator I want to have look inside the engine room. (Yeah, I know this is another way of putting number four, but I like it.)
  11. R&D: If you've read this blog for a while, you'll know that every now and then I get on my soap box about the need for R&D in PR and marketing firms - we need to get on with building the tools and the models for the new age of networks that is now beginning. I think that immersing myself in SEO will help me do that quicker.
  13. Being a synthesizer: No, not like a moog. I took note of the chapter in The World is Flat comments about the need for synthesizers in a flat world, when thinking about the new job, though. From talking to the guys at Spannerworks we've already seen some opportunities and  needs in both PR and marketing where we can mash-up PR and SEO tools and techniques to create new, useful ones for clients.
  15. Demand: Setting up the new practice was an obvious step for Spannerworks, because its SEO clients were already asking for corp comms and content input into their online campaigns. (How long, I ask myself before heads of comms are asking for SEO advice from their PR advisors? Actually, some are already.)
  17. SEO analysis tools rock: a lot of my work recently has been to do with analysing networks and online media to understand how content and influence flow through them. A lot of the research and analysis tools that SEOs' stock in trade can be useful in planning online strategies. If you're a PR or marketer, just think about the concept of the database of intentions, as John Battelle describes it in The Search, and how thinking about keywords and search behaviours can give you insights into how campaigns should be shaped, and how well they are working once they are running.
  19. I get to help develop software: As far as learning new skills go, helping with the development of new software. I will be working with a new tool for online media evaluation and monitoring for brands - something that has been on my personal wish-list as a PR consultant for a while now. Spannerworks has some cool ambitions on the development front and recently hired Paul Doleman, a formidable CTO and social media evangelist, formerly of Latitude to help make it all happen.

So those are my top ten reasons about the business / career decision. They stand apart from personal reasons for making the move - working a lot closer to my family is chief among those.

I'd also add that working with the Harvard and Bell Pottinger teams has been great - my reasons for leaving are positive, not negative. I've learnt a lot from working with some really good PR people there. It's a very amicable departure - something I respect the business-sense and professionalism of the guys there for.

There are also a lot of good people doing good work and thinking around social media who "get it" at Harvard and that you're going to hear from in the coming months and years. I'm delighted to say that Harvard will be launching its own group blog soon and Bell Pottinger's planner evangelist, Jon Leach (seriously, check out his World Cup blog map), is blogging away like a good'un now.  And of course David Rossiter - who inspired / cajoled me to start blogging in the first place (thank you, David!) - is writing his analyst relations relations blog...

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» Harvard's Mayfield joins SEO firm as social media man from Drew B's take on tech PR
What a busy week last week was. I'm only getting a chance to blog about this now, but PR Week and New Media Age reported on Friday that Harvard PR's director Antony Mayfield has left to join SEO firm Spannerworks [Read More]

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» Blogging PR man joins Spannerworks SEO from An Online Marketing Guide
It's not breaking news, but Antony Mayfield is leaving PR consultancy Harvard (part of the Bell Pottinger Group) to join the highly regarded search engine marketing outfit [Read More]

» Blogging PR man joins Spannerworks SEO from An Online Marketing Guide
It's not breaking news, but Antony Mayfield is leaving PR consultancy Harvard (part of the Bell Pottinger Group) to join the highly regarded search engine marketing outfit [Read More]


Best of luck - exciting times!

Congrats Antony! Best of luck!

Good luck Antony. Saw this in PR Week before your blog for once it scooped you huh! Nice one. All the best. Drew

Good luck Anthony, welcome to the geek side ;-)

Thanks for the comments, guys! Yes I am ashamed to be scooped, but it was nice of them to write it (and NMA and PR Business ;-))... Off to the pub soon - hurrah...

For me, Antony's list of top 10 reasons for his job change summarises just why it is such an exciting time to be working in marketing/communications. I've been working with Antony (we are a client of Harvard/Bell Pottinger) for about a year and it is quite amazing to see how our corporate stance on the changing nature of communications has evolved in that time. If a large and quite traditional organisation like the one I work for can grow and develop at that kind of pace, the possibilities really are infinite.

Very interesting indeed. Good luck with the superb Spannerworks guys, and welcome back to working in Brighton.

Good luck Antony. I trust you won't stop blogging, 'cos I think you've got the bug.

You'll be an asset to Spannerworks, just as you'll be a loss to Harvard/BPG.

Thanks Ann, Dom, Will - great to have your kind comments.

Dom - I definitely will be carrying on the blog. There would be few employers in the world who could stop me, even if they wanted to (Spannerworks doesn't!).

Will - I hope we can meet up now I'm back in town. :-)

Good luck, Antony! I am away for a few days and everything seems to have changed!

Congrats and best of luck. I have a lot of respect for the guys at Spannerworks - you are joining a great team. Keep blogging!!

From one set of smoke and mirrors to another, eh? ; )

Following Hayward's lead, I decided to do some PR/SEO mashing-up of my own, in your honour. Results include PROSE, SPORE, ROPES and my personal favourite, POSER.

Great move and good luck, sir.

I did read SEO described as a "dark art" in an Economist article and thought: sounds familiar... :-)

Good luck in your new job. Culturally, it will be a big change. Let us know how you settle in.

Good luck in yopur new job Antony. I expect to be hearing all about the magic of SEO very soon.... it's certainly something journos can't turn their noses up at!

Good luck Antony, not that you'll need it. You got it spot on with your first point. Search is the media.

Back in Brighton can't be bad either! See you for that lunch time pint soon and the best of British in the new role.

Back in Brighton can't be bad either! See you for that lunch time pint soon and the best of British in the new role.

Screwdrivers work too.

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