PR and content might not always be the most naturally aligned of marketing bedfellows, but there is much to be gained by bringing the two together. While they don’t share the exact same goal, they do have an objective in common: to create awareness around your brand.

Think about Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel: both in their own right, musicians of great talent but together, as Simon & Garfunkel, one of the most successful musical partnerships of all time.

So how do you make sure that your PR and content are aligned to create “Our Song” instead of “The Sound of Silence”?

“That’s My Story”: why PR and content work well together

While PR and content both fall under the banner of marketing, they have different objectives. PR focuses on specific campaigns or company news: its goals are to raise awareness of the ‘here and now’ via external platforms like the media, events or awards, for example. Content marketing is a long-term strategy that can fulfil a number of purposes: establishing a brand’s expertise and knowledge via its owned media, driving and converting leads, or building relationships with new and existing clients.

Because of the different skill set that each requires, they are often the responsibility of separate individuals or outsourced agencies. That can lead to two operational silos, but by adopting a holistic approach, you can achieve more effective, long term results.

“Our Song”: Making noise about news

A new product or campaign launch is very much a PR activity: you need to spread the word that you’ve just brought something incredible to market and people need to know about it right now. So you announce the news, and it gets media coverage. That’s all well and good, but it has a life beyond this – and that’s where content comes in.

You can turn the announcement into a case study, which could explain how you developed the ideas behind the product, or worked with your client to develop it, and you could provide interviews with people involved. You can explore what the product does, and explain how it solves a problem (or problems) in the industry with a series of blogs, videos or explainers.

This kind of content can be placed in a trade magazine or website, reaching another wider, relevant audience. That creates a lovely circular relationship, where PR feeds content which feeds PR. Now that’s really making your news work for you.

Beyond this, there are distribution channels to think about: email and social media. Tell your mailing list subscribers about the launch with a short news snippet. Create short videos to share on social. If there’s a launch event, make sure it’s well advertised and covered on social – before, during and after – and get other people involved by encouraging them to use a hashtag (which you’re tracking to measure your efforts). Use email to distribute invites. Perhaps run a competition to attend the launch party via email and social.

Key points:

  • Think about how your PR news can be repurposed across multiple channels.
  • Ask yourself who wants to read about this and what you want to say to them, and tailor the messages accordingly.
  • Be creative – think videos and infographics – but even images and gifs all help to create engagement on social.

“Old Friends”: Thinking about thought leadership

Developing a strong thought leadership PR campaign shares many similarities with developing a strong content strategy. Both are designed to position your spokespeople and your brand as experts on a specific topic. The audiences you are trying to reach via your thought leadership PR campaign are precisely the audiences you want to attract to your website.

PR thought leadership demonstrates the expertise, experience and credibility of a brand within their industry. It is a way to harness the expertise within the business, and whilst the CEO or MD is generally considered the most natural fit, different kinds of expertise can be found elsewhere in the hierarchy and will appeal to different types of media outlets (such as trade, consumer or verticals).

In PR, this can take the form of interviews with the media or speaking engagements, but it can also be written content (known as byline articles) or contributed comment on a certain industry issue or development. The goal is to have the media recognise you as a source of expertise, and to see out your opinion.

With content, thought leadership could mean becoming a guest blogger for a third party, presenting videos or podcasts, writing blogs for your company’s website, producing research papers and more.

When you think about topics for a PR thought leadership campaign, think about the potential these topics have beyond the media and how they can be used as blog topics, email newsletters, in videos or on social media.

Key points:

  • Not every topic will fit both requirements, so use your judgement. You will, however, be pleasantly surprised by the amount of crossover.
  • Journalists like to receive exclusive content, so always pitch the topic to a journalist first, before posting or sharing it publicly. 

“Blessed”: Doing good with CSR

Your company’s CSR and charity activities are huge opportunities for the creation of additional content. The trick is to communicate what you are doing in an engaging manner, rather than just showing off for the sake of some brownie points.

For example, activities where employees are out and about make for great content on social, in particular Instagram Stories. After the event, you can create a short post with a video or photo montage that inserts some personality and ‘people behind the brand’ to your corporate presence. Don’t forget that people love engaging with people, so this is a great way to introduce your team to your social followers and website visitors. There’s also a knock on impact too: if you’re raising money, live social activity or content can generate more funds.

Key points:

  • Try and remember to capture a few decent photos and a short video or two whilst on-event or on-activity – it gives you more content to use post-event
  • Don’t go hammer and tongs at the “Look at us doing good” message: instead, say how proud you are to be supporting this charity or taking part in that event

In summary

The key to making PR and content marketing activities work together is breaking down the operational silos and finding the crossover. Be clear about your goals for both PR and content, but then take a step back and look at how one can benefit the other. This should not only help to eliminate duplicate efforts, but should also help you generate fresh new ideas and content for each. In the words of the two music maestros themselves, it’ll ensure you’ve “…Got a Groovy Thing Goin’”.

Whether you have a PR plan in place or not, content marketing can complement almost all aspects of promoting your business. Find out how here.

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I’m the Head of Content for Future Content and the man in charge of words. As a former journalist for a number of publications, from Chat to MailOnline to that’s Shanghai, I have a wealth of editorial experience and a way of making words do good.

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