How To Stay On Top Of Content, PR And Performance
By joining forces, PR and content marketing can hugely benefit one another. Columnist Jim Yu discusses five ways to ensure that your PR and content marketing teams are working together cohesively.
This incredible gap means that numerous PR professionals are missing opportunities to interact with target audiences and accomplish their goals through utilizing content and digital channels.
The purpose of PR is to get the brand name in front of customers in a positive light. They want consumers to build a relationship with their company.
What is regularly overlooked, however, is the power of content marketing techniques to accomplish these goals. PR and content marketing need to work together more closely in the digital age.
The Importance Of Content Marketing Across All Disciplines
Content has become a critical part of PR, and it’s being produced at an ever-increasing rate. Consider that, according to IBM, an estimated 90 percent of content available online has been produced in just the past two years.
This content influences public perception of brands and how companies interact with their customers.
Consumers use the internet to learn more about products and services that they’re interested in buying — an estimated 81 percent of shoppers will research products online before making a purchase.
The right content has the ability to draw customers in and convince people that a particular brand has the solution to their problem.
Over the past four years, marketing budgets have been increasing steadily, according to Econsultancy. In 2015, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they planned to increase their budgets in the following year.
For PR to understand and adapt to the new forms of information dissemination, they need to be able to join forces with growing content teams and understand how their efforts correlate with this form of marketing. The worlds of PR and content marketing can no longer function as fully separate entities.
Content, PR And Organizational Alignment
The overlapping goals of PR and content marketing make these two an obvious union, but many are just now beginning to realize the significance.
Brand, communication and digital departments are all interested in brand reach, customer sentiment, digital engagement and amplification. They also each recognize the importance of content as a vehicle for communicating with their intended audiences and building a relationship of trust with those most likely to make a purchase.
However, without a cohesive approach to collaboration, accountability and measurement, understanding how PR fits into the digital ecosystem can be viewed as erroneous.
As columnist Rebecca Lieb wrote on Marketing Land:
[blockquote] If content (and brand) aren’t aligned across a panoply of paid, owned and earned media channels, they risk consumers not recognizing the brand, voice, message or product as they flit across media, channels, screens and devices.[/blockquote]
How Content Has Changed PR
The joining of content and PR has had a tremendous impact on what PR is at its core. Content and social marketing have changed how consumers access information.
These consumers are more proactive — they go online and research what interests them. They play an active role in disseminating pieces that they found intriguing to their own social connections.
Many people and brands have discovered that they can create an online presence and reach more people through their social media platforms than they would through traditional publishers.
Brands are often hiring their own journalists and editors to help them produce quality content. Marketing and PR departments must now take over much of their own promotion through social media and similar avenues.
Under these new rules, companies cannot be afraid to praise themselves in public a bit and draw attention to their own content. Blogs, particularly those that have been well established, are commonly viewed as respected publications.
Publishing content on an industry news site, such as Marketing Land and Search Engine Land, can be a source of positive press and help drive more traffic toward the brand’s website.
Even publications themselves have changed form. Major sites now seek thought-leadership pieces. They love to find writers who attract big audiences themselves so that they can experience some of that traffic on their own site.
These changes have left many PR teams scrambling. In just a few years, the nature of PR has changed from being a largely external phenomenon to one that is much more self-propelled, content-driven and digitally amplified.
PR, Search And Social Synergy
As the idea of PR continues to morph and change, it is important to also understand how it interacts with search and social within the digital ecosystem. As a PR team, you need to understand how search and social amplify your reach and work together to broadcast your brand message.
Search and SEO can be an incredible asset for reputation management. For example, regularly publishing quality content that addresses key queries can help brands control their online reputation and push down poor reviews or other potential sources of damage.
A recent study from the Vocus State of PR report found that of 325 mid- and senior-level marketing and PR professionals:
- 78 percent use social media to share content.
- 58 percent use social media to follow trends.
- 50 percent use social media to share coverage.
- 44 percent use social tools to cultivate relationships.
- 29 percent pitch reporters directly through social platforms.
PR and content marketing professionals who neglect this critical collision between these departments are going to be losing ground to their competitors who already understand the trends and insights gained from social listening.
When you regularly write the content that your customers appreciate, social media and search can also help you further your reach. Customers like to share the information they find valuable with their connections on social platforms.
This type of sharing and promotion can help you gather more traffic, backlinks and other quality metrics. In turn, these signs will help raise your piece in search, improving SERP rank and making it more visible to an even wider audience. As this cycle begins to run, your content can impact brand perception on an even greater scale.
5 Ways To Ensure That Content And PR Work In Harmony
As you begin to recognize the value of bringing content marketing and PR together, it can be a struggle to find a working arrangement that allows you to maximize this potential. Here are five steps you should review with your content marketing and PR professionals to keep everything running smoothly.
1. Discuss common goals
PR and content teams will find that they have a number of common goals, such as brand awareness, thought leadership and industry positioning. Bring the two teams together to help them form common goals that allow them to see how their efforts should complement each other.
2. Understand the unique roles of PR and content
Content and PR each have their own roles; the magic comes from their being able to work together.
Content marketing focuses on telling great stories. Content marketers understand that customers do not want a litany of product features — they want a story that explains why this product is going to solve their problem. These stories communicate that this brand understands their needs.
PR, conversely, focuses more on reaching the right people. They want to get the brand image in front of potential customers and build a positive reputation.
Use this insight to see how the two roles fit together, and build a strategy that takes both objectives into account.
3. PR professionals should use social to reach audiences effectively
Social media is a highly effective means of reaching customers, boasting more than a billion daily users on Facebook and hundreds of millions of users of other platforms like Twitter.
With the right tools, PR professionals can use these platforms to reach countless customers. They need to work with the content team to see how they can give their own platforms the reach and influence of a major publication.
4. Know which announcements should be made through major PR outlets
Once the PR team and the content team have a concrete idea about their respective goals and roles, it will be easier for the PR team to understand which announcements should be made through social media and internal content development and which ones should still be steered toward established publications.
Established publications are not obsolete — but their role has changed. They are still an excellent means of communicating particular types of information, such as announcements about brand development that you want explained in an authoritative source.
Keep in mind that the announcements best made through publications might vary depending upon your own social presence. Those with an established, loyal following might be able to do more on their own, while a company with a smaller brand reach might be better served with more frequent announcements made elsewhere.
5. Use the PR, search and social wheel to maximize impact
Once you begin to use the potential of content marketing for PR, you can then put the PR, search and social wheel to work. Distribute high-quality content through your social platforms, creating material that helps answer queries and provide value to users.
As users read and share what you create, they expose more people to your company, helping you extend your brand reach and maximize business impact.
The union between content marketing and PR presents brands with an advantage for getting their message effectively in front of their intended audience. As with any aspect of marketing, however, measurement is critical.
According to the updated Barcelona Principles, measuring PR in the digital world is different from old systems. The key principles are:
- Goal setting and measurement are fundamental to communication and public relations.
- Measuring communication outcomes is recommended versus only measuring outputs.
- The effect on organizational performance can and should be measured where possible.
- Measurement and evaluation require both qualitative and quantitative methods.
- AVEs (Advertising Value Equivalents) are not the value of communications. (Note: This is a much-debated point of conversation, as this principle did not originally support the use of earned media values/advertising value equivalents.)
- Social media can and should be measured consistently with other media channels.
- Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement.
Modern-day PR professionals must focus on end goals and measure how efforts impact outcomes and business results.
While no model is perfect — and we all know that paid owned and earned media channels have to be measured — the PR industry is still waking up to the fact that measurement is the new imperative — a survey by PR News found that 66 percent of PR professionals are not familiar with the Barcelona Principles.
It is essential that organizations begin to build their own models and fuse together content performance and PR metrics. An example framework to build from is shown below.
There is lots of synergy but also discord between content marketing and PR. Changing customer behavior and new ways (digital content) to reach an intended audience have changed the PR industry as a whole.
Organizations that correctly factor PR into their content and marketing mix can measure impact on key metrics such as positioning, awareness, engagement and preference, market share and performance.