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.

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