Public relations and content marketing are powerful when they work together. This is particularly true for B2B PR programs designed to educate prospective customers and push them down the funnel to a point of purchase. But too often, the disciplines and even their teams are distinct. Many PR practitioners naturally prioritize the generation of earned media coverage over content creation because of its credibility and SEO influence. For its part, content marketing has become so popular that there’s a “lowest common denominator” effect, with mediocre or redundant content dominating and crowding digital channels.
But when they work in concert, PR and content marketing are a 1+1+3 situation. Here are some ways to enhance the collaboration and make it work harder.
Have joint planning sessions. This is obvious, but many agencies outsource heavy content production, and it’s easy to lose something in the process. Whether handled internally or outside a PR agency or department, it’s helpful for the teams to plan and brainstorm together so that each can learn from the other. We believe at least one team member responsible for content should be on every major client briefing.
Unify PR and content under a singular theme. In many cases, the narrower, the better. Broader topics may seem easier for informing an editorial calendar, but a more targeted theme often works better for attracting true prospects, not just browsers. Long-tail keywords are rarer than the broader, “fatter” terms, but they are far more likely to attract serious prospects. So, while a keyword like “business software” turns up in thousands of searches, “DIY marketing automation software” will likely be a better term.
Never discount earned media. It’s still extremely important for any B2B or consumer content marketing program. Backlinks from top-rated domains major newspapers or news sites boost SEO to high levels, and a good content marketing program can amplify glowing earned media like product reviews or feature stories.
Start content well head of a key launch or event. In pharmaceutical PR, they call it “conditioning the market.” A campaign will raise awareness about a set of symptoms or a condition through heavy content marketing (my favorite example is Glaxo’s “restless leg syndrome” effort), then follow it with a PR push to generate earned media for the launch of a new drug. Similarly, even companies that lack the deep pockets of a pharmaceutical giant can do an effective job with a content program that sets up a common or emerging business problem, to condition prospective customers for the announcement of the solution.
Don’t be afraid of long-form content. Like the narrower topics and keywords, this one is counterintuitive for many PR professionals. Yet Google ranks longer content more highly than short posts. A top-ranked piece of content is typically more of more than 2000 words. More importantly, a high-quality white paper, study, or other long-form content can be used for months or even years to attract prospects, as long as the topic is reasonably “evergreen” and it’s promoted properly. It can also be remarketed in shorter chapters or posts, which offers the best of both worlds.
Let influencers be a bridge. Influencer marketing is one way to build a connection between the earned media relations of a PR program and a content marketing outreach. A white paper or ebook that offers insight and ideas from industry figures like analysts or bloggers can help build relationships with those very influencers while heightening the credibility necessary to generate earned media mentions.
Use data to inform the editorial calendar, but not the content. Particularly in technology PR, people are brainwashed to think that blog posts and articles should be packed with data the way we might pitch a reporter on a new trend. Relax. As PR and content professional Frank Strong said,”Eyeballs glaze over with data, but most people remember stories.”« PR Touts The Season’s Top Turkeys | Five Key Skills For Modern PR Professionals »