Journalism and PR has had an interesting few years. Many traditional print magazines have given way to the web, while newspapers have had to change their business models to cope with the new ways people like to consume content.
This has meant bad news for journalists, particularly ones who refused or were simply unable to really understand what moving to the web meant for the way they worked. But this also meant changes within the PR industry – fewer journos means more competition and fewer places to place stories.
Like journalists, PRs have had to move with the times. Nowadays they need to understand content such as by-lined blog posts, infographics and videos, and get them placed the right publications.
The difference between ‘earned’ and ‘owned’ media
So PRs understand should understand the value of content – they work with it all the time!
However, many PR agencies and departments still work focus squarely on ‘earned media’, which is where they try to provide or publish content that an existing media outlet with credibility and reach will use. They try and persuade editors and reporters to use quotes, by-lines or other types of content such as guest blogs.
Content marketing is focused more on ‘owned media’ (with ‘paid media’ playing an increasingly important part, but that’s for another blog post): generated content which a business will have complete control over that can be put in places such as branded blogs, websites and e-newsletters. This could be anything – think articles, e-books, videos and infographics. You don’t need external outlets to publish this content on, because you’re using your own channels.
When PR and content marketing can clash
In many organisations though, content marketing and PR are treated as separate entities, and this can lead to issues.
For example, if a PR agency focuses on earned media, they may have to work reactively to a publication’s news cycle to where and when they can place or provide content. They may know the people in charge of these media outlets and have a relationship built over weeks, years or months.
But in content marketing, a brand as a publisher will be constantly creating good stuff on blogs, websites and e-newsletters. But what if a content marketer wants to extend their reach to external websites such as blogs or news publications? What if a cracking article or video has been created which has a great chance of being picked up by Wired or The Guardian?
This is where the problems can start as it is the nature of PR to have control of messaging and sentiment – they won’t appreciate content going into publications without them knowing. If you have PR and content marketers working separately, this could happen.
Why PR and content marketing should work in harmony
This is why ideally, PR should be in the content marketing workflow. The PR and Content Marketer need to work together at the beginning, making plans and coming up with a strategy to get the content created shared and given as much awareness as possible. Then you can get valuable content created which is specifically targeted and suited to certain publications, and much easier to place because of the PR relationship that has been built.
But that’s not all. PR is great for product launches and events. A brand will get a big spike in traffic and attention thanks to earned media coverage online and offline. But what happens after? Once the news cycle has moved on, journalists and readers have already moved on, because they haven’t connected with the brand. Marketing-wise this isn’t good – It might not convert to the crucial sales that is the bottom line for a business.
However, getting owned and earned media working together – then you have something special. The audience coming to the brand website will initially come because of the earned media, but potentially stay thanks to great content created with owned media. These visitors may come back through social media or simply positive awareness of the brand, and be part of what’s really the crucial thing for a business in the end – the sale.