Marketers often view PR and content marketing as two separate entities. Too often, it comes down to choosing between the control of 'owned media' and the credibility of ‘earned media,' but it doesn’t have to be all or none.
We must reframe the issue to ask: How can we purposefully integrate content marketing with PR to get the most value out of our content?
When we hear the word “content,” many of us envision blog posts or social media updates. A digestible piece of information served to inform, educate, or entertain the masses with the goal of building community.
You know, the modern-day way of brand storytelling.
Now, using that same mentality, think about the collateral found in every PR professional’s toolkit: press releases, pitches, fact sheets, and the like. When you strip away the lingo, you’ll quickly realize that the goals of these materials function in a very similar way: to inform an audience and build community through awareness.
Reduced to its essence, PR is very much a content-driven discipline. Sometimes, you’ve gotta call a spade a spade.
As Content Marketing Institute says, “Content marketing is the golden child of modern marketing, driving long-term thought leadership page-rank advantage, and nurtured trust between a buyer and a brand. But PR plays an invaluable, complementary role.”
These two disciplines may have their own end games, but they ultimately rely on each other to get there. Let’s take a look at how applying the power of public relations can yield content marketing success.
Build It and They Will Come … “They” as in, the Media
When online content was starting to come into its own a few years back, Internet gurus (cough, Google, cough) led us to believe that if we just focused on filling our online channels with good content, reach and engagement would soon follow.
Create, publish, rinse, and repeat.
With the evolution of SEO and after some (okay, a lot of) trial and error, we’ve come to realize that in order to achieve your desired results from your content marketing strategy, distribution should be held in the same regard as production. In today's competitive marketing arena, it’s not always enough to create good content.
Our owned content may serve to fuel search ranks and position us as thought leaders in our industry, but how will consumers know how to find it if you don’t show them that it exists to begin with?
(Let’s all have a moment for those well-researched, well-written, 1000+-word articles with snazzy imagery that never saw the light of day.)
Let’s break down the tie between PR and content marketing. At its core, marketing is a structured approach to attract, engage, and retain prospects-turned-loyalists. Content marketing leverages distribution channels (think: your company’s Facebook page or blog) for owned media. But beyond just publishing a blog post, the secondary hope (after inputting proper SEO presets, of course) is that the content achieves virality--the holy grail of content marketing success.
When content goes viral, it’s sprayed across social media, back-linked (shared) all over the Internet, and sometimes picked up by notable bloggers or pop-culture monoliths like Mashable or Buzzfeed. In other words, earned media.
“Earned media is what happens when customers are reacting to the content that you create, and take your content marketing to the next level.”
Fasten your PR hat by taking the time to identify and strategically interact with media outlets and influencers that align with your brand. Get to know their online hangouts, their style, and the tone behind their publication. Share their news articles, give them attribution, and tag them in it. The more familiar they become with your name, the more likely they are to remember you and maybe, just maybe, they’ll return the favor.
Don’t Just Blog About it, Be About it
When it comes to winning the trust of the general public, who do you think will come out on top: your company blog or a news outlet? Yes, this may seem like an obvious question, but bear with us for a moment.
Say that your company is an early adopter of the Next Great Thing. Maybe you were one of the first in your industry to predict the rise of virtual reality in the ad world. By having an executive take to your company blog, you may get some traction, but it will likely come from your own readership.
When the time comes for your company to make that game-changing announcement, consider paying to promote your content in order to drive earned media--in other words, paid media. Your executive can prattle on about how great this technology is, but unless you can get the word out to the general public, you’ll just be preaching to the choir. All it takes is one major media pickup to make people take notice and seal your word in trust.
By the People, For the People
When you’re knee-deep in creating content every day, it’s easy to get stuck in your own head. “Of course this article is good, I wrote it!” you tell yourself, keystroke after keystroke. “Why wouldn’t everyone want to read it?” After all, you’ve reached that sought-after state in which you’re confident that what you’re producing is what your audience will eagerly consume.
Or will they?
Consider this: public relations activity is about representing a mutually-beneficial relationship between a business and the public; aligning your business’ interests with public interest.
What kind of stories have been trending lately? What are the big happenings in your industry? Are there any corresponding angles your brand can tap into? Strive to regularly keep an ear to the ground and Identify those areas in which you can align your message with what’s top of mind.
If you put these same strategies into practice for your owned content, you’ll watch consumers gobble it up. While the distribution channels may have their differences, the principles are the same--as are the results, when you get it right. Good content that engages audiences will get heads turning.
So whether you’re pitching to the Washington post or crafting another blog post, your stories should have a unique take. Just like how the media grows tired of the same ol' same ol', the same goes for your readers. Switch it up, keep it fresh, and watch it grow.
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