PR and marketing continue to be in a relationship that works closely together, but oftentimes departments struggle to stay connected.
Across organizations of all sizes and industries, PR and marketing teams often work in separate lanes to take their company’s message to the market. While the way PR and marketing teams communicate with audiences that might vary significantly, the insight that PR teams have into the industry and ever-changing market trends can be incredibly valuable when it comes to informing ongoing marketing campaigns.
Modern PR programs go far beyond media relations. Today, PR teams are playing a critical role in shaping brand messaging, understanding the competitive landscape, and tracking industry trends. While PR goals still remain heavily focused on establishing credibility and boosting brand awareness through third-party outlets, PR is also working to shape audience engagement and drive value across the entire marketing funnel.
Here are three ways PR can help shape marketing messages:
1. Identify and adjust messaging themes.
Every brand has its core value proposition and mission statement that serves as a north star for all messaging. However, the themes that are impacting customers and influencing business patterns are likely changing on a regular basis. As market changes and other external factors impact target audiences, marketing teams must be able to pivot to speak directly to the needs of prospective customers at that given moment in time.
If you take the Covid-19 pandemic as a recent example, you’ll find that brands across nearly every industry had to pivot their messaging overnight as priorities shifted for individuals and businesses alike. At the onset of the pandemic, there were a considerable number of unknowns associated with the virus and its implications. Fortunately, PR teams have their fingers on the pulse of changing news surrounding major market impacts.
PR can provide marketing teams with real-time insight into the trends and topics that are dominating relevant news cycles, which can be translated into an adjusted value proposition across the marketing operation. In my company, our PR team was able to quickly identify a trend in the world of retail as many businesses were forced to close their brick-and-mortar stores at the onset of the pandemic and move their operations online. We were able to work quickly with the marketing teams to create timely, useful resources that helped businesses bring their operations online quickly.
2. Connect brand awareness to marketing campaigns.
Prospective customers are inundated with messages from brands and organizations across nearly every channel. In fact, it’s likely that your company’s prospects and customers are receiving a sizable quantity of messages from various teams across your company alone. As such, it’s imperative that brands are aligning their messaging at all levels of the funnel as closely as possible.
The value that PR can provide on this front is to provide demand generation and other marketing efforts air cover at the brand awareness level.
This could take many shapes. For example, let’s say your marketing team is promoting a new material for exercise clothing that is made from recyclable materials. Your PR team could run a thought leadership campaign around the benefits of wearing sustainably made products for the environment, personal health and personal finances.
By aligning bottom-of-funnel priorities with high-level thought leadership and brand awareness campaigns, your prospects and customers are more likely to be exposed to a consistent message at all levels and across multiple channels. A customer who reads an article written by a trusted journalist within the industry, discussing the trends and issues tied directly to an email campaign detailing how your product or service offers value, adds an essential layer of credibility to your marketing efforts.
3. Bolster content marketing efforts.
Public relations and content marketing work hand-in-hand because they are, in many scenarios, fueling one another.
In many cases, PR teams can leverage the thought leadership materials being created by content marketing teams by securing press coverage for e-books, surveys, research reports and other types of collateral being leveraged across marketing. On the other hand, the thought leadership and forward-thinking conversations being driven by PR can provide content marketing teams with a roadmap for ongoing content creation.
Content marketing and PR are the driving forces behind establishing credibility and creating consumable content that resonates with audiences. Increasing lines of communication and collaboration between these teams can not only improve their teams’ outcomes but also generate insights that can inform marketing messaging and campaigns.
At a time where things seem to change on a daily basis, PR teams are providing insights to their organizations more regularly that can help shape business decisions and marketing campaigns. By working hand-in-hand with marketing teams, PR can not only inform campaigns, but also work to amplify and add credibility to the messages being generated at all levels.
As your organization works on planning its next round of campaigns, bringing PR in early on to provide insights and guidance on the high-level themes and positioning can help keep teams aligned and pinpoint messaging to tie directly with the trends and issues impacting the industry today.
Tommy Morgan is the public relations manager for Avalara.