There’s an interesting proverb that I stumbled on recently: “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.” When you boil it down, there’s a lot to be said for teamwork. But what about two seemingly different teams, such as B2B PR and content marketing?
Recently there have been a variety of strong opinions circulating about PR and content marketing. Some believe that PR and content marketing are different strategies, and don’t mix well. According to these individuals, you should either have PR or content marketing — not both.
Does this reasoning stand up under scrutiny?
Let’s take a closer look at PR and content marketing, and examine how both play an important role in your overall B2B strategy.
What is Public Relations?
The Public Relations Society of America puts it this way: “At its core, public relations is about influencing, engaging, and building relationships with key stakeholders across a myriad of platforms in order to shape and frame the public perception of an organization. ”
Public relations professionals take on many roles, including
- Crisis communications
- Reputation management
- Media relations
- Corporate communications
- Social media
- Writing speeches
- Product launches
As new technologies and trends emerge, public relations evolves to fit the times. In recent years, PR professionals have had to react to the emergence of fake news, artificial intelligence, and digital storytelling. And we see how public relations has gracefully handled these changes, to the benefit of all involved.
Now that we have a clear definition of what public relations is, let’s move on to content marketing.
What is B2B Content Marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.”
Content marketing is different from traditional forms of marketing. While marketing traditionally focuses on self-promotion, content marketing avoids it. In essence, content marketing serves the needs of the audience. The goal of content creation is to demonstrate the expertise and credibility of a brand to begin to nurture prospects and ultimately convert them. This might be through blog posts that answer key questions or eBooks that delve into deeper industry trends and issues. As propsects move down your funnel, content may include later-stage content such as case studie and webinars.
Content creation covers many different types of media, including:
- Case studies
- Blog posts
Content marketing incorporates various strategies to reach a target audience. These could include social media, SEO, and paid media, to promote and amplify content.
The type of content you create is contingent on your goals. For instance, if your objective is thought leadership, then you’ll want to create in-depth content (such as ebooks, videos, and white papers) that highlight your industry expertise and knowledge. If you want to generate leads, you’ll want to generate leads, think webinars, demos, case studies and other later-stage content.
How PR and Content Marketing Are More Alike Than You May Think
These two B2B strategies both focus on shaping brand perception. This includes generating:
- Thought leadership
From its beginning, PR best practices have always included some type of content marketing — they may not have had the fancy term for it that we do now, but it was content marketing nonetheless. It might for example have involved placing an op-ed on behalf of a client and distributing copies of the op-ed to prospects. To underscore the importance of content marketing to PR, the national PR organization PRSA includes in its list of PR functions: “Overseeing the creation of content to drive customer engagement and generate leads.”
Previously, PR was often limited to earned media, but now it typically integrates earned, owned, paid, and shared media as part of its strategy. This helps align PR and content marketing to work closely together in creating and distributing these various content types.
Let’s examine owned media for a moment. This includes media that you own and will always be among your assets. Think your website’s blog or eBooks that you create. Normally, this would be considered content marketing. But owned content is also an important part of public relations, where you can use your owned media to highlight press mentions and boost your brand image.
Another example is thought leadership — the idea of being the go-to authority and trusted source for others within your industry. You attain this status through the creation of in-depth content, speaking engagements, and the way you position yourself on social media — all of which blurs the lines between PR and content marketing.
As PR and marketing converge, PR increasingly takes on the role of content marketing, including SEO, paid media amplification, and even in some cases lead nurturing.
All of this showcases the symbiotic relationship that exists between PR and content marketing. Bottom line, each one helps the other. How is that? Let’s examine six key ways that these two strategies work together and benefit each other.
6 Effective Ways to Combine Your B2B PR and Content Marketing Strategies
1. Your Content Can Fuel Press Relations
Content is generally used to establish expertise and spread brand awareness. But it can easily go a step further and put you on the map for some well-deserved press.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re a manufacturing company that has recently won an award for safety. You could write a blog post about how to create a safe working environment, and highlight your recent award.
Imagine what happens if a writer for an industry magazine stumbles upon your post and realizes that your industry knowledge would be useful in a story he’s working on. Your content has created an opportunity for earned meda. This shows how your content marketing efforts can also advance your PR interests.
2. Speaking Engagements Direct Attention to Content
Choose a member of your team to speak at an industry event. This puts your brand in front of your target audience, who is listening attentively and taking note of your brand.
Use this platform to highlight your content. In fact, your content can become the nucleus for your presentation. Mention and quote from specific pieces of content. This not only puts your brand in the spotlight, but directs new audiences back to your content for more information.
3. PR Brings in an Audience
Public relations puts your brand in the spotlight — but that spotlight has some definite perks for your content marketing. As people get to know your brand, they will turn to your blog for your expertise, insights, and educational content.
Aim for media outlets that your target audience frequents. Don’t know? Ask your sales people to check with customers. Don’t forget to include a link back to your blog in your content.
This strategy only works if your content team has a rich selection of content waiting for prospects.Teamwork between PR and content marketing can ensure that the right content is strategically placed for potential audiences to peruse.
4. PR Helps Content Teams Think Outside the Box
Much of the time, content creation teams are focused on a brand’s image. While the content isn’t self-promotional, the focus is on buffing a brand’s perception — what content will create trust in the brand?
PR helps teams focus on the big picture: the public. What kinds of content does the audience read? What stories are popular? What industry trends are emerging? PR teams have a unique perspective on the “it” topics, and can help content creation teams to create fresher content from a unique angle.
5. PR Allows You to Be Promotional
Content marketing is often about educating prospects on your industry. It’s not touting your brand but exposing prospects to top industry thinking.
PR to some extent gives you an outlet for self-promotion. An effective PR strategy tells people what you have accomplished, what you’re doing now, and your future plans.
But after you’re spotlighted and people know about your brand, what’s next? Content marketing. A well-rounded content strategy will build on the foundation laid by your PR efforts. It prevents your brand from becoming a one-hit wonder, and cements you as a powerful presence in your industry.
6. Collaborate with Others Within Your Industry
Collaboration allows you to expand your reach to new audiences and heightens your expertise. Reach out to another well-known thought leader within your industry and create a valuable piece of content that both of you can promote. This makes content creation easier and puts you in the public eye.
You could also use this collaboration for mutual distribution. Each of you can distribute each other’s content through a blog and newsletter. This expands your reach and bolsters your reputation as a thought leader.
You might even do this with influencer marketing. This leverages those within your industry with a particularly large social media following and uses their influence to benefit both your PR and content marketing. You get a new channel to distribute your content and win the attention of the influencer’s audience.
A Few Points to Remember…
- Use your blog to highlight recent news and attract the attention of industry journalists
- Use your public relations strategy to attract new eyes to your content
- Think of content creation from a public relations standpoint to gain a wider and fresher perspective
- Establish your brand reputation with public relations, and nurture that reputation with your content marketing.
Returning to our introductory proverb, teamwork will inevitably strengthen your cause. Help your PR and content marketing teams to work together, and the results will speak for themselves.
This article originally appeared in The B2B PR Blog.