By Danny Whatmough, Account Director at EML Wildfire

Google has rolled out ‘social search’ to users in the UK. Until now the service was only available to US users on Google.com, but the service is now live outside America and will support 19 additional languages. (Read more: Social Search goes global)

Social search – which has been available in the US since last year (see: Google launches social search)– combines normal search results with data collected from your friends on social networks. In this instance, ‘friends’ are also classed as people that are listed in Google channels such as Gmail, Google Talk, Google Buzz or Google Reader.

This move can also be seen as a reaction to Microsoft’s announcement about increased integration between its Bing search engine and Facebook. A key challenge for Google will be to try to develop a closer relationship with Facebook to improve the effectiveness of results but, of course, we all know it is increasingly reticent of giving any ground to this particular web giant. (source: Facebook PR firm's Google smear tactics described as 'creepy')

What does it mean for PR?

This further underpins the importance of social media (and search) in terms of sharing and distributing content. It’s therefore a vital service for PRs (Public Relations) and brands to be aware of and work into their ongoing social strategies.

There has been a lot written recently about the very close links between PR, social and SEO (Search engine optimization). This move also underlines the importance of an integrated approach. PR professionals need to think about the impact of their campaigns and ongoing strategies from a search engine standpoint as well as incorporating social and traditional tactics and techniques.

In addition, this will potentially have a big impact on crisis communications and reputation protection, as it will help negative stories to spread just as quickly as positive ones.

Increasingly, PR professionals need to have a much broader skill set when approaching campaigns. When it comes to social media and SEO, the goalposts can change incredibly quickly as search engines and social networks make upgrades to algorithms and rules.

Staying on top of these changes and reacting to them is therefore absolutely vital for the modern day PR.

Danny Whatmough is an Account Director at EML Wildfire Tech PR. He blogs at the EML Wildfire blog and Dannywhatmough.com. You can follow him on Twitter by visiting - @dannywhatmough

Watch the video below featuring Jemima Gibbons of AAB Engage discussing ow social media can positively impact your business.


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