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The vital role PR plays in content marketing

The vital role PR plays in content marketing

The ‘land grab’ surrounding marketing communication services continues to hot up as agencies of all persuasions jockey for position around social media, content marketing, Facebook advertising, SEO and other digital requirements.

Understandably, clients are confused as to who they should go with, and for what services. This is because an increasingly large grey area has developed, in which agencies from across the marcomms realm compete with similar offerings.

Traditionally, the crossover between these disciplines was reasonably manageable, but not anymore.

Case in point: Social media is quite fluid, and therefore crosses boundaries with ease.

Ditto content. In fact, especially content because not only is it the fuel of social media, but owned and earned media as well. Plus it has become a hot ticket in marketing land with everyone trying to get in on the act. So it’s pretty crazy out there!

Let’s stay with content.

I think it’s pretty safe to say content done by an ad agency is probably going to be different to content produced by a content marketing agency. Which in turn is likely to be different to the content a PR agency would create.

This is because people from these various disciplines often, and not unexpectedly, will come at a brief differently. And of course, you’re only as good as the knowledge and skills you have in-house, or can tap from your pool of vetted freelance talent.

BUT: Is what these agencies are selling, what the client actually needs?

This is why it’s important marketing clients develop a good understanding of the nuances of each marcoms discipline and how they approach content marketing – philosophically, strategically and tactically.

When should a marketer go to an ad agency for content, versus a content marketing agency, versus a PR firm, versus a digital agency?

If you don’t understand the various idiosyncrasies, there’s every chance you might end up with something you don’t want, or need.

Building the foundations with PR

With this in mind, let’s turn our attention to PR. Given it’s my background and the industry I work in and know best, albeit with a strong emphasis on social and content.

I also pick PR because I believe it’s the foundational block in the brand communications pyramid. Therefore, should be the first discipline a business or organisation squares away.

Please note, I’m not talking about the cliched “get my name in the press” notion of PR that many marketers, unfortunately, continue to cling to. I’m talking about the strategic public relations that build the ‘VITAL pillars’ of an organisation’s reputation.

These VITAL pillars are:

VISIBILITY – raising awareness of your brand, cause or issue by establishing and maintaining an active, respectful and visible presence in the marketplace or community in which you operate.

INFLUENCE  – creating behavioural change by motivating people to take a specific course of action, individually or en masse.

TRUST – building reputation by growing the bonds of trust between your entity and its ‘publics’ (the people who matter most to the success of your business, cause or issue).

ADVOCACY – growing and nurturing a solid base of champions, enthusiasts and allies of your brand. People who will talk positively about your organisation, share your content and defend you if and when necessary.

LEADERSHIP – establishing and reinforcing a knowledge, thought, community or industry leadership positioning in the marketplace.

Building a VITAL organisation — one that’s visible, influential and trusted — requires an ongoing PR program that strategically blends owned, earned and social media, all of which are content-led.

Welcome to PR in 2017 and beyond. Content first. Always on. Omnipresent.

Which leads us to the biggest PR and marketing opportunity today. That is the ability for a business or organisation to build its own platform and in doing so, effectively becoming its own media channel.

Not a media channel full of chest-beating one-way messaging and syrupy puff pieces — that won’t cut it. But one that’s credible, that delivers value through content, while at the same time maintaining editorial integrity.

Setting the tone

This is the heartland of public relations and why content produced by the PR team — whether in-house and/or outsourced to an agency — should set the tone in the first instance.

Here’s why …

A well-maintained, ongoing, content-driven PR program that successfully integrates owned, earned and social media, will work organically for your organisation day in and day out. All year round. Keeping your brand top of mind with the people who matter most to the success of your business, cause or issue.

Done well, it will do the communications ‘heavy lifting’ for your brand over the long term. Critically, it will fill the gaps in between intermittent paid-for advertising campaigns.

Plus it will help build a solid base from which to make your marketing activities work harder. If your business is recognised for all the right reasons, if it is trusted and has a strong reputation, then maybe, just maybe, people will take notice of your advertising.

Let’s face it, we all need to make our marketing to work harder in today’s noisy, always-on, digital-first world.

And the key to that happening might just be an ongoing strategic content-first PR effort.

PR as the lead discipline, not the afterthought.

That being the case, who are you going to talk to first when it comes to content?

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