What BrightonSEO Taught Me About MYSELF

You might be surprised to discover that I went to BrightonSEO recently. You might also recognise that to be sarcastic as it was pretty much all I spoke about for at least a week straight. Here I am, over two weeks on, still talking about it. What can I say?

I’ve somewhat famously made the move from digital PR to traditional PR over the last few years, and I haven’t been quiet of it. So what the hell was I doing at the world’s biggest search conference?

Asides from the fact that I WON tickets (the first time I think I’ve ever actually won anything, ever) thanks to the lovely people at Absolute Digital, I also have always wanted to go to BrightonSEO, I know so many wonderful people go every year and it’s a buzzing hub for all of the latest ideas and updates within the industry.

Further to this, though I’m not a digital PR, I’m still connected to that side of things. Source offers digital services, and we’re not naive to the way that the world is moving. Though traditional PR is still as vital as ever, we’d be crazy not to also consider the online world too. That’s why we take a hybrid approach where the end goal isn’t links, but they certainly help 😉

So, as I made my way back up to the midlands, I knew I wanted to come away and write something about my experience. However, with the lovely Gemma promising her iconic massive write up of almost 90 takeaways from BrightonSEO, and me covering all of our PR takeaways over on the Source blog, I didn’t think there was all that much point in doing my own ’round up’ blog today, as it were. I hope you’ll agree with me on that.

So while BrightonSEO taught me lots and lots about PR, digital and social media, it also taught me a lot about myself too and my own conceptions of the industry. Let’s talk about that instead, shall we?

#1 – I Got The Digital PR Industry SO Wrong

So first and foremost I want to say that if BrightonSEO taught me one thing, it was that, boy, I got the digital PR totally industry wrong. Thanks in no small part to some poor experiences in my past, I hold my hands up and say I was too quick to judge the sector as a whole. I’ve had the misconception for a long time that digital PR was too focused on link building, and that everyone was using high-pressure (sometimes bordering unethical) tactics to achieve those goals. Talks on burnout and job happiness by the likes of Sean Butcher, and covered by SEO-legend Stacey MacNaught too, reinforced that it’s not actually an industry-wide problem, just part of it. Further to this, there were some very insightful talks on relevancy and combining your PR, social and SEO efforts together to make them work harder. Links weren’t even mentioned all that much in some talks. This is a welcome change that I noticed, and I’m very happy to hold my hands up and say that I was wrong. I’m over the moon to see that the digital PR industry is adapting to make campaigns relevant and multi-beneficial, that’s the future as I see it, and it’s an exciting place for us all to be. So let me extend my apologies to those who work in the digital PR industry, I had a bad experience here and it’s not indicative of the sector as a whole. The work coming out of some agencies is simply phenomenal, and I was so happy to learn this at Brighton.

#2 – The Lines Between Traditional & Digital Can Be Blurred

Further to what I touched on above, though I’d class my work as traditional PR, we also offer digital services and often those aren’t too far apart from one another. Sometimes they’re actually combined. A number of campaigns exampled at BrightonSEO are what I’d define as more traditional tactics, but ones that earned backlinks too. I think the industry as a whole is moving away from link building and getting back to what PR is all about. BrightonSEO taught me that more agencies and individuals are focusing their campaigns in a way that they benefit their brands reputation as well as links being the goal too. So though I moved *away* from digital PR on paper, it seems it found its way back to me again. I don’t hate it.

#3 – I Want To TALK There Someday 🤞🏻

Lastly, one thing I could not get out of my mind during my whole time at Brighton, was that I want to speak at this conference one day. I’ve even put the pitch together in my mind and know exactly what I’d want to talk about. I’ve made it no secret that my confidence isn’t where I’d like it to be, so this is definitely one for the future. However, every single talk I visited over those two days (18 in total!) gave me the courage and inspiration to pitch for my first ever talk at another event in the North West. I haven’t quite plucked up enough to gun for BrightonSEO yet, but watch this space. Adding to this, feeling incredibly proud of every speaker and utterly motivated by them, I’ve also agreed to something that I’ve put off for a long time: I said yes to a podcast interview. With one of the speakers from Brighton himself! I’ve wondered for a long time what I can do to improve my confidence and my motivation to accept the exciting opportunities that come my way, turns out my biggest inspiration is people – so I have all the lovely people I met and listened to to thank for that.

Just over 18 months ago, I made my way to my first conference alone, something I’d never have had the courage to do just a handful of years ago. Seriously, I’d have cringed at the thought. Skipping ahead, I’m not only attending these things but actually pitching to talk at them. I hope I’m making my past self (and everyone who knew her) proud!

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