Content Marketing the New and Improved PR

5
Jun

Content Marketing has been around for centuries. Enduring brands like John Deere and Proctor and Gamble have been telling stories and acquiring loyal customers since 1837. The recent buzz around content marketing has drawn a crowd. Those in the content marketing profession have done a good job marketing the service. They have done a great job making it seem shiny and new.

It’s funny how a word, a phrase, a service can be “marketed” just like your everyday household products. You know, positioned in the marketplace as “new” when in reality it’s the same old cooking spray you’ve purchased a hundred times before. And, what is the phrase we always hear, “New and improved blah, blah, blah?”

Well, that’s not actually a bad way to describe content marketing (minus the blah, blah, blah of course). Content marketing isn’t a new, earth shattering strategy that is all mysterious and sexy. So, what is it? It’s the new and improved version of online public relations.

In the beginning of the year, Heidi Cohen wrote a post about, “Content Marketing Versus PR – Who Wins?” I think Heidi is a rock star and the chart was insightful. I also think it made a tight-knit case for content marketing, but in turn put public relations in a box. To Heidi’s credit, her chart is a very accurate description of public relations in the past and even for most PR professionals in today’s workforce. My two cents – public relations is changing (whether we want it to or not).

In Social Media and Public Relations by Deirdre K. Breakenridge, David Armano wrote, “Of all the industries to be affected by the massive changes brought about by social media, Public Relations has been on the front lines since the beginning. The reason is simple: Much of social media is done in public, by the public, and the dynamics that have shaped public relations in the past (media relations, interactions with opinion leaders and influencers, and of course, crisis/reputation management) are not only present in social media, but often accentuated and amplified by it.”

Whether you are talking about social media, blogging, producing videos or designing influential infographics, online public relations can’t be effective unless you adopt content marketing best practices.

Content Marketing vs. Public Relations

Content marketing is all about creating and distributing valuable content. The content is created to attract and engage a defined and clearly understood audience. Content marketing isn’t about the sale or enticing people into your lead funnel. It’s about creating ambassadors for your company; people who you empower to spread your message. Otherwise, reaching people you had no way of reaching solo.

Public relations has always been about communicating an organization’s message and still is. It’s about telling a company’s story (or at least it should be). At the core of PR is the fundamental purpose of trying to reach the right audience who will become cheerleaders of your company, organization or cause. Somewhere public relations and media relations became synonyms, but there is so much more to PR. From community relations to employee relations, PR professionals have many publics they are responsible to reach.

While these two descriptions do not differ immensely, the era of content marketing brings along with it new and improved must-haves that PR professionals must adopt or respectfully get thrown to the wayside.

5 New Age Public Relations Musts

  1. Sentiment - Before you had to measure the views of traditional media members, and now you must understand, monitor and track the sentiment communicated by the public via a tweet, status update or post.
  2. Customer Service - You no longer have hours to prepare a comment. In minutes, you must effectively communicate with your real-time community who is waiting for real-time answers.
  3. Community Management - Waiting for a journalist to tell your story is no longer necessary. You must help shape favorable outcomes by effectively communicating with your community directly. Share content and add value to their lives.
  4. Social Policy - You must create a social media policy that is specific and direct. You must implement that policy by offering training to all company employees and stakeholders.
  5. Content Curator - No longer can you rely on the broadcast approach to deliver your message that was created by top executives and passed directly to the PR pro. You must create a process where content ideas, stories and customer testimonials can be shared among all employees.

Whether you are a labeled a content marketer, public relations professional or social media guru, many strategies and responsibilities overlap. Regardless of your title, you must learn where your customers are searching for their answers, what type of content they want to consume and the frequency in which they want to hear from you.

Do you agree or disagree? Is content marketing the new and improved version of public relations?

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