How PR pros invented content marketing

It dates back to the newsletters and sales slicks of years past, but that doesn’t mean PR has to have sole ownership of content.

Remember 40 years ago when PR practitioners delivered old-school newsletters and sales slicks? That was the advent of content marketing. Many years and lots of technology upgrades later, content marketing and public relations seem to have drifted apart, taking on identities of their own. However, a great public relations practitioner knows content marketing like the back of their hand. She understands that it takes 7 to 13 touch points for a client to get a qualified sales lead, and that it is their job to lead that proverbial horse to water. How does said practitioner get this done? Why, through content, of course.

Today, brand-generated content is more important than ever, as business-to-business and business-to-customer buyers scour the Internet for information, reviews and credibility. The key to a successful content marketing campaign is to understand its true meaning as well as how to strategically approach it.

Content marketing vs. public relations

While the actual term for the task at hand has changed, making it seem like a revolutionary concept, content marketing at its essence is a feather in the public relations cap. According to PRSA, public relations is defined as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

As the industry and our technology tools evolve, practitioners tend to view public relations as an integrated approach, and that one feather is only part of a continuum of strategic processes that will ultimately get clients the results they need. To truly understand public relations as an industry, one must understand each piece of the puzzle. Content marketing is the puzzle piece of PR where true storytelling was born in the digital age, propelling both paid and organic media, and integrating public relations into other practices. Content marketing drives target audiences to take action, whether that audience is journalists, consumers, partners, stakeholders, or in the case of my firm’s technology clients, investors.

Five examples of content marketing

There are plenty of forms of content marketing. There is always a story to be told about something, right? You see it every single time you sign into Facebook, and you may think to yourself “How many times can I possible read a top 10 list about why my college boyfriend could not be my husband, or if I’m a Gryffindor or Ravenclaw?” The point is, that piece of content is boosting someone’s SEO, and perhaps even driving a sale on that organization’s website.

The goal of content marketing isn’t to just write a lot of meaningless content with your businesses’ target keywords, but to be very strategic with each piece you write. You must fully understand your target audience, and how they will best consume that piece of information. The following are six examples of content marketing and use cases for each:

Blogs: A blog is a medium that enables you to expound on specific subjects where your company excels. It also can help you recruit employees and promote products and services and exemplify your thought leadership in an industry. Blog posts can be repurposed, not only on social media, but on other high profile blogs, and depending on the format and topic, even be shared with the press.

Whitepapers: These content pieces enable companies to fully explain their products or services. Specifically, in the technology sector, this helps clients explain the ins and outs of something far more complicated than could be explained in 140 characters. Whitepapers can be used in analyst relations, on company websites, and once the content is written, can also be repurposed and even excerpted on social media, blogs and pitches.

Case studies: A case study done right can truly drive sales. Validation from a customer or partner is one of the best testimonials a company can receive. These can be repurposed in sales materials, on the company website, highlighted in blog posts and used in media relations pitching efforts.

Videos: Awesome, short and engaging videos are nuggets of key messages that can display expertise, a product’s value and company culture. Now, more than ever, it is really important to integrate videos into press releases, social media content, blogs and your website to help secure media coverage and increase your SEO.

Infographics: These are fun, engaging graphics that include stats, charts, graphs and other information surrounding a specific topic or idea. Infographics can be repurposed on websites, social media networks, blogs and even in top-tier publications. They can add that extra punch you need to receive media coverage and engage followers on social media.

Strategically selecting where to place the content is just as important as deciding what the content is about, who the content is for, when the content should be published and, perhaps most importantly, why the content is being written. The opportunities are endless, and sometimes almost daunting, but the most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to do it alone.

Let’s not fight anymore

Public relations practitioners don’t have to have a sole claim on content marketing. Technology has not only integrated strategies, but also marketing, development and communications teams. Collaboration of teams and ideas should continue. I hope higher education and careers follow suit and evolve and merge as well. We have made it a point to recruit members to AR|PR’s team that we affectionately call our ‘Army of Awesome,’ from different backgrounds, from old-school rock star PR folks to digital gurus to marketing mavens. This is what makes us tick and successfully execute our integrated approach.

The bottom line? Content marketing was created to add value and ensure that you are engaging with hot leads and prospective customers at each point in the decision making process.

I truly believe there is room for everyone at the table (SEO experts, advertising, marketing) when it comes to content marketing, but engaging with a public relations agency is a natural fit. We will ensure that the story is told strategically, organically and at each touch point to the right-fit audience. After all, PR practitioners are the pioneers; we invented the wheel content marketing. ​

Blair Broussard is a seasoned communications professional who understands the ever-evolving world of social media and how it intersects with traditional marketing and public relations. She has secured national media coverage from some of the biggest outlets, including Mashable, Women’s Wear Daily, the “Today” show and Forbes.


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