The utilization of content marketing has exploded over the past few years. Case in point, the explosion of searches for “content marketing” according to Google Trends:
While the concept isn’t new, the sheer amount of noise on the internet has changed every brand’s approach to getting their message heard by the right people (at the right time). Spending resources on creating stellar pieces of content that are more about the end reader and less about a brand is working well for everyone from Coke to IBM.
But what about brands that don’t have the resources of Fortune 500 companies? How do they ensure that they not only create great content, but that that content gets in front of the right audience? More and more, PR pros are stepping in to help, wearing the hats of both content creators and distributors for their clients.
Our own Kimberly Jefferson (Director of Accounts) and Meghan Matheny (Account Executive) spoke with Sam Whitmore, a former editor and founder of Media Survey – a well-known source of media insights for public relations professionals – about what PR pros need to know about the melding of content marketing and public relations, the changing media landscape and what else to look forward to in 2015. Here are their top tips:
Treat your client’s thought leaders like beat reporters. The acceptance of contributed content has skyrocketed in recent years. As search engines have evolved to reward websites that produce both quality and quantity of content, media that can rely on thought leaders to provide authoritative pieces on their industry helps increase the number of posts per outlet. Additionally, a stable of quality content-producing thought leaders can expand the beats covered by an outlet (who in turn don’t have to pay a staff member to cover that area). Contributed content is a great way to establish your client as a top thinker in their industry space while also establishing you as a PR pro as a dependable source.
Vendor speak is out, industry presentation style is in. Editors at media outlets are open to receiving contributed content, but most will immediately toss it if it focused too much on your client. Though a brand may have the next best solution to technology’s/healthcare’s/puppies’ biggest problem right now, contributed content that comes from an industry – not a vendor – perspective is received better by media and their audiences. A great tip provided by Sam is to have your client’s approach a piece as though they are giving a presentation on their industry to their peers at a major event.
Click bait headlines aren’t always a bad thing. Click bait is often a term that brings the “I smelled something bad” facial expression to many a PR pro and media member. However, when done right, the true nature of a click bait headline is still useful in content. Sam suggests utilizing words like “how to” or “this is” to entice the reader to click the headline for the full piece. Going with clarity, as opposed to a more teasing headline, can ensure your content is not only read, but also shared and the reader isn’t left feeling disillusioned.
Make your content actionable. Content today acts much like a traditional news story in the reaction you want your audience to have. Creating content that drives the reader to action – whether that is moving them to sign up, show up, or speak up – ensures you aren’t creating content to just have it, but for a business purpose. And the intended action doesn’t have to be explicitly spelled out – it can come in the form of giving advice, explaining an issue, personal empowerment, etc.
Letting readers “behind the curtain” of an issue can often be more successful than hard data on a subject. PR pros can have the best content in the world for an industry, but if the author isn’t well known, “selling” the piece to the media can be an uphill battle. To combat this skepticism, Sam suggests that PR pros should give readers an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at an important industry issue. By “lifting the curtain”, readers, and the media, can feel that a brand is not only immersed in their customer’s perspective but also in solutions to alleviate any pain points.
Make sure clients understand the value of content – now and in the future. Content can take many forms – bylined articles, videos, images, etc. – and a brand may feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices and new platforms for creation and distribution. To combat this, PR pros should immerse themselves in ongoing research of what is new, what is working and what isn’t in relation to current and future tactics. In doing this, clients can be presented with options to experiment with new forms of content without too much time or monetary investment. By having a solid plan in place, clients and PR pros will feel more comfortable that a client is positioned well to reach their target audience in a proactive versus reactive manner.
Mobile and video are the next content frontier. The proliferation of types of content and mobile consumption has changed most of us from readers into grazers. We read headlines but don’t read articles; we skim articles but don’t click the links; we scroll through a feed during lunch. As we continue to prefer smaller and smaller chunks of content, brands must figure out ways to produce content to fit time and size constraints. Breaking content down into several smaller pieces (individual images instead of an infographic, clips instead of a full video), is a way to align more with consumption patterns today. While these smaller pieces are informative, they can also point back to longer form content on a website, to ensure that no matter what the reader is receiving all the information they were promised.
The combination of excellent writing skills and relationship networking with industry thought leaders make public relations practitioners the ideal choice to help brand’s shepherd their content to the masses. As the lines continue to blur between content marketing and public relations, PR pros that take a holistic look at content creation and distribution will help contribute to their client’s success.
Looking to see how content marketing and public relations can help you get your brand in front of your ideal audience? Contact Lindsey Groepper for more information.
- Campaign Spotlight: PicoBrew Pico Kickstarter Launch - November 4, 2015
- Five Marketing Must-Knows For This Week - September 24, 2015
- 7 Content Marketing Tips for PR Pros - July 22, 2015
- Duking it out for dollars: Content marketing vs. native advertising and how to decide which is right for you - June 10, 2015
- Facebook Instant Articles: The impact for content marketers - May 14, 2015