By Wendy Marx published August 12, 2010

The Role of PR in Content Marketing

So, you’ve created some remarkable content. But before you pop the cork, ask yourself:

If you build it, will they engage and interact?

With everyone creating content these days, it’s no longer true that people will rush to read content.

In my experience, adding a PR component to your content marketing adds a powerful incentive that expands your reach, thought leadership and the power of your brand. Better yet, done right, it can ultimately lead to sales.

Remember: PR is more than press releases

Today’s democratization of content venues means you no longer have to feel as if you lost out if The New York Times or some other large publisher fails to feature your content. Instead, you can create your very own crescendo of influence by using PR.

By PR, I’m not talking strictly about press releases, though that’s part of it. Rather, it’s creating what Kelly M. Howard, director of PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) firmwide public relations calls an “echo system,” a reverberating megaphone of initiatives such as:

  • Press releases
  • Articles
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Blogs
  • Websites
  • YouTube

Better yet, work to get others to be your brand ambassadors. In short, use PR anywhere you can get your target audience to access and interact with content.

Below are two practical examples of how you can use PR in your content marketing efforts.

Example 1: Use PR to engage

PR, in the broad sense of the term, was a critical component in PwC’s much lauded Personal Branding Day. It used a combination of traditional PR, social media and content marketing to engage college students.

Held last February, the nationwide event was structured to help students develop their personal brand by providing ideas on how they could determine and promote their individual strengths. PwC provided interactive exercises, expert advice and tips to help students learn how to stand out in a crowded job market.  The event was promoted via press releases and on social media and was covered by mainstream media as well as campus publications.

The intent was not necessarily to increase student recruits, but PwC wanted to improve its own brand with college students, according to Howard.

The key to the campaign’s success, says Howard, was engagement.

“Content reaches its full potential if there is engagement,” Howard says. “By engagement I am referring to how users interact with content. If they are not commenting, interacting, asking questions, they are not fully engaged.” To that end, PwC encouraged students to interact on its social media channels, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Every day, PwC provided 10 tips on personal branding and encouraged their audience to ask questions and provide comments.

Example 2: Use PR as part of your integration strategy

The other watchword of content marketing success, according to Kyle Flaherty, director of marketing at the cybersecurity company BreakingPoint, is integration.

“You want to integrate your PR, social media, content marketing and any other marketing, and subsume it all under a demand gen system.

People add an enormous level of complexity to content marketing,” says Flaherty. “ In truth, it’s knowing who the audience is, what they want out of content, and where they want to get that content. If you figure out all three things — and it’s not that hard — you’ll be successful.”

For example, BreakingPoint promotes its methodology processes, which are highly technical reports for engineers, in multiple channels. It typically does the following things:

  • Issues a press release
  • Alerts technology reporters
  • Posts the reports on its website, in its LinkedIn Group, in Twitter feed and in a blog post
  • Offers a webcast on the same subject and links to its report

All of its content, including its press releases, is optimized for the search engines. Beyond that, its content is tracked in a marketing automation system from Act-On Software, allowing BreakingPoint to determine the most effective content for each audience.

“You can’t expect someone to just fill out a form and give you their information,” says Flaherty. “That’s the old push model. Instead, you want to create content that speaks to a person’s needs and create enough of it so you become a trusted resource. That way, you’ve empowered your prospect to take the action you want.”

And, if you integrate your content, engage your audience, and track your responses, you’ll be well on your way to getting your prospects to buy.

What other examples do you have of using PR as part of your content marketing efforts?

Author: Wendy Marx

Wendy Marx is an award-winning PR and marketing executive who helps B2B companies and executives become well-known brands. Wendy planned and executed the original public relations strategy that helped fuel the spectacular growth of Peppers and Rogers Group, the world's preeminent customer relationship firm. As President of Marx Communications, a B2B PR agency, Wendy is an expert at creating thought leadership and content programs for clients that create visibility, credibility, and ultimately, sales leads. You can follow her on Twitter @wendymarx.

Other posts by Wendy Marx

  • laurenfernandez

    Interesting breakdown, Wendy – and something that many in the PR field don't even look at. Kyle is right, PR should be integrated into your strategy. It's the same for many of the departments that tend to silo themselves – they all have a place at some point, some more than others. I think another integral part of the process would be the follow-up, whether it's with reporters or with the audience. Feedback from the audience is just as important, you want to make sure it meshes.

    Lauren Fernandez, Radian6

  • Wendy Marx

    Hi Lauren,

    Thanks for you insights. That's an excellent point about feedback from the audience (like our interplay here) and incorporating the learnings.Thanks for mentioning that.

  • lucia

    Nice reading.
    Yes, regarding content marketing, we once done a project for our client in marketing one its prominent survey that they invested several years on it. We used release, facebook, website notice, twitter, blogs and also leveraged SOE marketing. My feeling is not only we are advising client to integrate PR as part of your marketing, but also we are integrating marketing/promotion tactics into PR.

    Presently we are studying on video marketing? How much do you think video marketing will help client? And how much will video interview help on brand awareness enhancement?

    Lucia from HA Beijing
    lliu060821@gmail.com

  • M16team47

    Good i not understand english.

  • Wendy Marx

    Lucia,

    Thanks for your interesting comments and for sharing some of what you've done. Did you find that you generated a lot more interest in your client's survey based on the marketing you did? I especially like your point about marketing tactics being absorbed into PR along with the reverse.

    Everything I read and see indicates that video will — and is — having a large impact on brand awareness, especially in the B2C area. It also I believe it will begin to play a larger role in B2B as it makes what our clients do that much more tangible.

  • lucia

    Hi Wendy,
    Yes, thanks to the integrated tactics, we think it makes our client happy. What worth mentioning is how we evaluate the results – the multiplied times that the survey was read and downloaded. Since it requires real name and company address registration, this helps to recruit a number of valuable data for client. How do you make the evaluation?

    As for video marketing, we did some multi-media release – referring to have hyperlink and screen-shot of the video redirecting to the stream either on client website or some other platforms like Youku (local video platform like YouTube). We also did video interviews. Since most clients I am working on are very technical-driven as well as focus on B2B, we are still trying to figure out how to make an interesting and attractive practice. Do you have any best practice of leveraging video marketing, especially for b2b companies, say some one in the semi-conductor industry? 

    Lucia

  • Doug Kessler – B2B Velocity

    Excellent post, Wendy. Thanks.
    I completely agree: PR is the un-sung hero of content marketing.
    Without it, we’re whistling in the wind.

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