Humans have become content generating machines as access to the internet has grown. By one estimate, humans created 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day in 2018. On YouTube alone, creators upload more than 500 hours of new content every minute. Whether through beautiful photographs, insightful podcasts or a witty Twitter thread, nearly everyone turns to the internet when they want to have their say.
The corporate world is no different. Most organizations must have a competent and authentic online presence to reach their target audience and convert them into customers. This inherent need is why content marketing has become the leading outreach strategy for businesses of all different stripes. By participating in the ongoing online conversation, organizations can meet potential customers in the one place everyone visits all the time.
But the internet’s ubiquity also makes it difficult for some messages to breakthrough. So how do you compete with all that online noise to make your voice stand out?
Collaborate to Succeed
In many organizations, public relations (PR) professionals push messages out to the broader public. Before the internet became entwined in every facet of our lives, PR pros did this job by using their industry relationships to obtain coverage for their clients in print and broadcast media. At the time, PR professionals focused so heavily on TV and print outlets because it was the most effective way to reach the public. However, as the legacy media’s importance has declined in recent years, PR professionals now do their work using many of the same tools as content marketers.
At the same time, content marketers are busy communicating for the organization in similar ways. These creators don’t always understand how the blog posts, white papers, social media content, and videos they produce can seamlessly integrate with PR outreach objectives. Instead, both groups work independently toward their own goals and lose out on opportunities to foster collaboration and improve efficiency.
There are no more gatekeepers to information in this new world, and platform access is more egalitarian than ever. That’s why content marketing and PR teams must work hand-in-hand to maximize their effectiveness. Under the proper circumstances, content marketing initiatives can serve as the infrastructure supporting both consumer marketing and PR outreach efforts. Your PR team can also use its built-in messaging and audience expertise to drive an overall marketing strategy. But how does this work in practice?
Start by Rethinking Content Planning and Creation
Most content marketing teams use editorial calendars to plan their output. These documents typically include the content topic, assets the team needs to create, the channel where those assets will live and a timeline for when those assets will go live. PR teams employ a similar approach to structure their outreach efforts. PR calendars use hard news pegs (like new product releases) or more casual cues (like remembrance days) to plan how, when and where they’ll make their pitches. When these two teams work separately, they miss out on opportunities where the PR calendar can inform the content calendar and vice versa.
Organizations can streamline their efforts by creating an overarching marketing calendar that coordinates every outgoing message. In this environment, the content and PR teams create flexible assets that can fill multiple uses. With just a few tweaks, press releases can become blog posts, white papers can become bylined articles and media pitches become social posts.
With content and PR teams working under a shared calendar and creating content with flexibility in mind, organizational messaging becomes more unified, and everyone’s efforts become more productive.
Next, Own Your Owned Media
In the old days, reporters, producers and editors made decisions about what information was newsworthy. PR professionals could make their best pitch, but publication decisions were often out of their control. While TV, magazines, radio and newspapers still play an essential PR role, they’re no longer the only game in town. As PR professionals have evolved to meet the digital age, they’re taking more control over their owned media as a primary channel for message delivery. Leveraging these owned business assets is a great way to build fruitful partnerships between the content and PR teams.
The first place to start is your organization’s blog. Too often, this space is an afterthought because building an effective blogging strategy takes tremendous effort. However, by positioning your organization’s blog as a media center, where you regularly publish lightly modified press releases, your channel becomes the hub of your outreach activities. Using a shared marketing calendar, your PR and content teams can schedule releases to post on the blog at the same time they hit the wire. Your PR team can also use these blog posts as the hub of future pitch work (more on this later). Either way, your blog is working for you.
The same is true for your organization’s social media channels. While some might argue whether this is genuinely owned media in the age of algorithmic reach restrictions, organizations still have control over the type of content featured here. With PR and content teams working together, social messaging can better align with outreach messaging. That will help your organization become less reliant on earned media outlets and more in control of your online corporate messaging.
Rethink Outreach to Further Your Impact
With your owned media channels entirely in hand, regularly publishing under a shared marketing calendar, the content and PR teams can begin collaborating to rethink your publicity activities. This reimagined process starts on the blog.
The Blog Drives Your Pitches
PR professionals naturally seek out newsworthy stories inside companies that might garner broader interest. Under the old publicity model, PR teams would package this information in a release and hope that a larger media organization would share it with their wider audience. But when your content and PR teams use your company blog as a media hub, blog posts can serve as de facto press releases. PR teams can use snippets from blog posts or interesting data points as a hook for their media pitches while including a URL that journalists can follow for more information.
Not only does this approach center a company’s owned media channels in its outreach activity, but it also supports link building as a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. By marrying the efforts of your content and PR teams, you’re streamlining content creation and deployment. You’re also making your owned assets do double and triple the work they did before. Talk about an efficiency boost. The job’s not done, however. Organizations can further magnify their existing outreach efforts through the smart use of social media.
Social Content with a Purpose
As it turns out, PR messaging makes for natural social media content. Not only are the talking points newsy and interesting, but they’re also packaged in bite-sized pieces, so they’re easily digestible for journalists. As the content team publishes your press releases on the blog, they can also use the PR team’s pitch messaging to share that content on social media.
Plus, your content team can share coverage from successful pitches, but with a twist. Rather than simply linking to the shared content on someone else’s platform, have the content team write a quick post about the coverage to share on your blog. This approach fills a social content hole, expands the reach of your earned media while at the same time keeping the focus on your owned media.
Email, Podcasts, and More
No doubt your content team is working on other initiatives to distribute organization messages. As with the blog and social media, the PR team can contribute their ideas and expand the reach of all your produced content. Email, podcasts, videos and more can serve multiple objectives once the content and PR teams work under a shared mission.
Who Takes the Lead
Who leads these new initiatives depends on your organizational preferences. What matters most is breaking down the silos that have previously separated content marketing teams and PR professionals. Companies that hire outside PR firms to augment their in-house marketing team will also benefit by bringing those contracted workers more fully into the fold.
Every time you put something out into the digital world, you’re competing with millions upon millions of other people seeking out the same share of scattered eyeballs. With something as critical as your organization’s message, you’ll need a unified team of communicators working together to reach your audience effectively.