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PR and Content Marketing: Made For Each Other

1-1-3Earlier this year, the Aberdeen Group published a report titled “Publish or Perish:  Content Marketing is the New PR.”  It posits that public relations is being disrupted by the growth of content marketing. As content becomes THE critical tool for brand recognition and credibility, the report implies, it is the new PR.

Content Marketing as New PR Trend

True, content’s kingly status has upended the traditional PR toolbox and even our approach in some sectors.  Adding to the mix, Google’s ongoing algorithm updates have outdated massive link-building in favor of…what else?  High-quality, original, shareable content.

But we’ve witnessed this trend toward a new PR for some time.  It’s been fueled by the contraction of the traditional media universe and the rise of social media, which fosters sharing.  So, although the minority of PRs who are still steeped in traditional tactics might be threatened by the changes, most welcome the new PR.  It’s less a disruption and more of a “quiet revolution” according to Aspectus, which calls PR the “engine room of content marketing.”  Well said.

PR, SEO, and Content Are the PB&J of Online Marketing

Though each has a distinct goal, they belong together.  PR pros are trained storytellers who understand paid, owned, earned, and shared content, and how they work together to make the bigger picture greater than the sum of marketing parts.

In fact, the most powerful content marketing programs are well integrated into PR plans.

Lee Odden has a good post on breaking down silos and making the business case for blending PR and content marketing, creating the New PR.  But assuming that case is made, here are some basic steps to make that relationship more seamless.

Involve PR in content planning.

Not all stories are created equal.  What works well from a digital marketing perspective can become more promotable as earned media with a little foresight.  Sometimes a tweak is all it takes.  A white paper about fostering innovation, for example, can benefit by swapping an overexposed brand like Apple or Google for a newer example like Uber or Buzzfeed. Or, an e-book topic can get a ripped-from-the-headlines twist that makes it more topical for a journalist.

Align with simple tools.

An editorial calendar that’s tied to sales and marketing events and goals (product launches, conferences, etc.) is very useful for New PR content planning.  Obvious?  Yes, but many of us don’t do it, or we fail to update it as things change.

Solve problems.

It’s a nuance, but the typical op-ed or byline is just that—an opinion piece, usually by a senior executive about a relevant issue.  But the “how-to” strategy of offering educational information or solving a problem through expert advice has long been a staple in consumer PR.  The same principle is effective in the B2B area, too, and it can help make content both more marketable and more marketing-oriented.

Repurpose, reuse, and reuse again.

It can start with the simple use of publicity placements in direct marketing efforts.  But bear in mind that the broader your content portfolio around a single theme or message, the higher your inbound marketing batting average.  A webinar can be adapted into a blog series, a speech easily morphs into a bylined trade or business article, and a survey report can become an infographic.  After a while, this happens naturally; one colleague uses lengthy CEO blog posts as a source for pre-approved commentary suitable for relevant industry blogs.

Optimize.

The SEO landscape will always change, but it’s often effective to identify one or a handful of top keywords and work them into content across all marketing groups.  The more “ownable” the terms, the better.  If the editorial calendar has been properly planned, they will integrate easily into shared and owned content, from social media profiles to press releases and slideshare presentations.

Impose a story structure.  

Formulaic stories = boring content.  But just as in a good novel or news story, structure, including the beginning, conflict/drama/problem, resolution, is key.  It pays to study the structure of the most effective brand journalism and marketable content and develop one that works for your narrative in the New PR.  Ideally, your customers, employees, and clients are an integral part of telling your brand story.  Implied third-party endorsement makes for credible and powerful content, and it just happens to be the essence of great PR.

This post originally appeared in MENGBlend.

Need more ideas? Download Top Content Ideas for PR Pros here!

 






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