OK, the last one you might not be buying.
I hear you. You have digital PR efforts in your marketing strategy. And, you’ve got content marketing. They’re both such vast worlds that can run simultaneously next to each other. Right?
Wrong. Well, sort of. They can function on their own, but they shouldn’t. They go together. They need to be the best of friends if you’re going to have a fully comprehensive and successful marketing strategy.
What’s Content Marketing?
Basics first. Content marketing is nearly any piece of content used for marketing purposes. It can be visuals, audio, social media-based, long-form written content. It can be for marketing to current customers to retain them, for new customers to get them into the pipeline, or for past customers to get them to return.
Each piece is unique to the audience you’re trying to reach and the content created is in a form that’s best for that specific audience.
As far as the topic is concerned, it’s important to note that content marketing is rarely a hard sell. It is not advertising. The content topic is intended to create interest in your service or product and focuses on helping the reader, not just your offering.
What’s Digital PR?
Public relations originated in the early 1900s. It’s much the same, yet very different from those early days.
At its roots, PR is building and maintaining the relationship between the ‘public’ and a company or figurehead. This is still the same. However, note, we now say ‘digital PR.’
Fax machines, regular, elaborate in-person socials, even picking up the phone to build relationships are not the most popular tools anymore for PR pros. Digital PR focuses on building relationships online that are most vital to reach your ‘public.’
It’s social media outreach and email exchanges, it’s influencers and bloggers, it’s focused on backlinks.
The general roots are still there. But the means of getting there are, now, very digital.
Why Content Marketing and Digital PR Have to be BFFs
Let’s start with my acknowledgment that content marketing and digital PR can function separately. But, it’s my belief — and experience — that they’re most successful when they’re best friends that always work together.
When looking to advise on a potential project, I ask interested clients first what the goal is they’re hoping to achieve. It always ties back to getting in front of potential users/interested parties more.
I often hear media outreach is the missing component in the current efforts the team is working on. Upon further discussion, I usually agree. But, as the conversation continues on how to build these relationships or what to pitch and share, it always becomes apparent that the missing piece is quality content.
In our digital age, it’s harder than ever to get in front of the right people. We continually see pop-up ads for something you only thought about and never said aloud. We know what our great grandmother’s best friend had for dinner, that our ex-boyfriend’s aunt just got her nails done at the new salon in town, and every other piece of ‘super helpful’ insight into our ‘loved ones’ lives. It makes it hard to get online and see the answers to your problems in the most obvious places.
So, PR experts are trying to build relationships (or should be) with the influencers, bloggers, and media of the world.
As if influencers/journalists days weren’t already packed with trying to be a successful professional, for years now they’ve been bogged down with piles of notifications of ‘X company is the best, cover us.’ The challenge for PR pros is doing more than that and building a mutually beneficial, two-way relationship.
That’s where content comes in.
The best journalists and influencers are looking for new story angles, diving into problems and solutions that people haven’t recognized, they’re sharing eye-opening research, and they’re doing it day and out.
To focus just on building those relationships online that are most vital to reach your ‘public’… well, it’s not enough. You need to bring them something of value — something that makes their job just a tad bit easier in that moment.
Maybe it’s a story idea. Maybe it’s an infographic or video. Maybe it’s new research that’s packaged up in a very visually appealing way that they can be the first to release. It doesn’t matter what type of content it is. Each piece just needs to be unique to the audience you’re trying to reach and the content created in a form that’s best for that specific audience. And, it needs to be customized to fit what that influencer’s/journalist’s beat is.
Content marketing and digital PR are already friends. But they can’t just be in the same social circle. They need to be the best of friends. As I said, some things just go together.