Public Relations and Content Marketing: Their Dynamic Relationship

Lee Groeger - 10/15/2020

Public relations and content marketing efforts should overlap to achieve consistency and strengthen brand communication. Learn about how they can be integrated.

Content. It’s become such a catchall term, and rightfully so, because it encompasses everything we—all of us—produce and consume. It’s what we write, read, watch, listen to, and share. So, to put some context to it, when I say that one of the services we provide to our clients at 3E Public Relations is content development what I mean is that we create written, visual, and auditory materials to inform, entertain, captivate, and engage their intended audiences. One of the strategies used to put those materials into action is content marketing, a strategic approach focused on distributing valuable, relevant, consistent content that attracts, retains, and motivates a clearly defined audience.

I recently sat down with Meredith Hopken, Account Director at DSM—a fellow New Jersey agency and 3E’s marketing partner—to discuss our respective approaches to public relations and content marketing, how those efforts overlap, and how they can be leveraged to strengthen brand communication and results. Watch our full video chat below, and feel free to use the summary below to help guide your viewing experience.

[00:02:35]: How content marketing fuels a PR strategy, and vice versa.

The material that’s developed for content marketing initiatives can often be repurposed for public relations value. For example, I work with one B2B client to gather customer testimonials on an ongoing basis because it gives us a library of information to pull from. We use them for trade show collateral and other content marketing initiatives because their audience finds value in understanding how likeminded individuals utilize the products to do their jobs better. Several times, an editor from one of the client’s key trade magazines has requested user reports on various products, and because of those testimonials, I already had the information I needed to move forward with the opportunity. Then, it was simply a matter of building out the testimonial into a longer form of content, which was ultimately published.

Likewise, materials generated as part of a public relations program can also fuel content marketing efforts. A good example of this is using video footage of a company spokesperson from a speaking engagement or media appearance (panel, keynote, roundtable, etc.) as a supporting element in a paper or e-newsletter.

Sometimes, materials are created with both disciplines in mind. During our discussion, Meredith talks about an approach her agency takes to gather expert insight from clients while also securing useful content that can be repurposed for various marketing efforts. Brief video interviews with clients are developed into long-form pieces of video content, as well as distilled into shorter, more digestible videos for use across various platforms. This archive of content not only fuels the marketing strategy, but allows us to pull information and quotes to pitch and quickly respond to media queries.

[00:09:45] Production value of video content.

If you’ve noticed a shift in the past few years to content that looks less produced, you’re not imagining it. The emergence of phone technology and editing software has made video production exponentially accessible, albeit not always very polished. But is that a bad thing? How produced or glossy a video should be depends upon various factors—at minimum, the brand’s persona, audience, budget, and the platforms on which the video will be shared. The ultimate goal should be authenticity, so take the approach that best accomplishes that.

[00:12:45]: Planning process for public relations efforts.

When it comes to planning, there is a very symbiotic relationship between content marketing and public relations. On the PR side of the things, our editorial and content calendars are informed by key events, seasons, and brand/industry initiatives, so everything we do falls under those umbrellas and is executed across various mediums.

For example, if a client is getting ready to launch a new product, we’re going to be planning a dual public relations/content marketing strategy that gets relevant news outlets talking about it while simultaneously implementing a digital marketing campaign that perhaps showcases customers sharing how the product solved a problem or improved a situation. Meanwhile, our content marketing team is looking at trends in relevant search data and leveraging those findings to complement public relations plans.

[00:15:07]: Measuring public relations and content marketing efforts.

Generally speaking, content marketing done right results in Discovery (being discovered by the right people A.K.A prospects), Engagement (creating an engaged audience that likes, supports and evangelizes), and Loyalty (organically building an audience that trusts you and wants to hear from you, ultimately increasing their likelihood to support your business).

If you have a specific objective, develop a targeted strategy to accomplish it, and then back into the metrics that will determine how successful you were. For example, one of our clients has a very clear-cut goal to double their email list in 2021. To accomplish that, we’ll promote gated content that appeals to their target audience. The campaign will be measured by how many leads are generated through the contact form.

From a content marketing perspective, some of the factors being measured are how many people saw or clicked on a piece of content, or how many opened or fell off an email (and where), then using those digital insights to optimize a campaign.

[00:20:57]: Industry changes that led to the marriage between public relations and content marketing.

The shift to online news consumption has resulted in less advertising and subscription revenue, and smaller reporting staffs. That’s created a need for more content development support and advertised or sponsored content from companies, and their public relations teams are often the ones to do it. In other words, you need to supplement earned media coverage with original content.

As technology evolves and the way people consume media evolves, strategies will continue to shift. The beauty of digital media is that, with it, you can test different content on different channels, see if something is working, and make changes on the fly. Using a phased approach is a smart strategy in terms of building and scaling a brand, as well as managing expectations across the board.

[00:27:06] Combating the challenging COVID-19 era media landscape.

When you don’t have “essential” news, an unexpected or counterintuitive approach can be a brand’s lifeline. Exploring various angles that might not be obvious at first can present new opportunities. This has been a crucial strategy during the pandemic, when often times non-COVID-19 news didn’t have a place in the timely news landscape. If this is an area of concern for you, listen to 3E PR Senior VP Amy Stern’s conversation with WCBS News Radio 880’s business reporter, Joe Connolly, about how brands can market themselves and stay relevant in a turbulent news climate.

It’s important to have an agency partner you trust, who understands what your goals are, can identify valuable opportunities, and then guide you in connecting those opportunities to solutions that will help to achieve those goals.

If you’d like to learn more about how public relations, content marketing, or both, might benefit your business specifically, email me and let’s talk!

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