May 12, 2014:
You know that old familiar saying, “Two heads are better than one?” Well, it’s true. (Back me up on this one, Thelma and Louise!)
It’s a concept that’s been with us since the good, ‘ole Sesame Street days. You know, the idea that, by working together, you can solve any problem that comes your way.
In the world of content marketing, this is especially true.
With the adoption of content continuing to rise (CMI research shows 93% of marketers use content marketing this year, compared to 91% last year), the idea that we’ll eventually hit a “Content Collapse” seems less and less likely. In other words, content is here to stay.
And that’s as it should be. After all, as Robert Rose succinctly put it, “Great content wins. End of story.”
So how are content marketers making it work? We get by with a little help from our friends.
The obvious friends are SEO and social media. As my colleague Derek wrote last summer, “content fuels B2B SEO and social media initiatives.” But, as he points out, the B2B SEO and content marketing teams can learn much from journalists/PR professionals.
In fact, many would argue that public relations is content marketing – or at least a tactic in the content marketing tool belt. Lee Odden says integrating public relations and content marketing doesn’t have to be scary:
“When you look at the idea of storytelling targeted to a specific audience intended to affect certain intended outcomes, it sounds a like influencing publics to me. When you combine that ability to incorporate key messaging into content stories with marketing level accountability – it’s a clear competitive advantage over PR or standard content marketing by itself.”
Here are a handful of key ways our organization is bridging the gap between traditional content marketing and public relations in order to better serve our clients.
During the month of March, members of the KoMarketing team headed to supply chain expo Modex, held in Atlanta, GA. The purpose of the trip was two-fold: To get a better understanding of our clients’ industry (manufacturing) and to connect with leading innovators at the show, on behalf of our clients.
Prior to the show, our team worked with three of our clients displaying at Modex to identify a list of manufacturers and distributors we’d want to talk to during our time there. While at the show, my colleague Abe and I conducted a series of interviews with the manufacturers/distributors we’d identified, with the intention of using the interviews to build out content on behalf of our clients. We came back with enough material to publish a whopping 10 comprehensive and collaborative posts discussing workplace safety and manufacturing trends!
If we had it to do over again, it might have made sense to send the manufacturers/distributors the interview questions in advance, considering there were a handful of people who baulked at being put on the spot (even though Abe and I aren’t that scary!). But the point is that we took a page out of PR/journalism’s book and interviewed our subjects in person, which represents a departure from traditional online marketing.
Because we understand that “owned” vs. “earned” media is now more or less the same, thanks to the explosion of brand publishing, our team works in tandem with several of our clients’ PR teams to collaborate (as opposed to duplicate) content creation and distribution efforts. Enter the editorial calendar (i.e., the only way to keep yourself sane and organized when you’re in the midst of a content marketing frenzy).
For one of our larger clients working on building out blog content to drive website traffic and build brand awareness, we schedule regular calls with the PR team to discuss ongoing initiatives (theirs vs. ours) and keep everything up-to-date in the editorial calendar. They may be targeting external outlets with bylines, guest blogs, media pitches, etc. and we may be focusing on on-site content (blogs, landing pages, etc.) and building a social community, but the end goal is the same: Converting visitors into prospects and ultimately into customers.
Interestingly, just this week, we flipped roles: Our team came up with a list of third-party publications for our client to submit to, and the PR team developed a list of unique locations to upload an infographic, with the goal of increasing views and awareness. Even more proof that content marketing and PR’s worlds are colliding!
I mentioned guest blogging above, but it’s an important enough content marketing strategy to deserve its own section. Despite Matt Cutts’ January proclamation that guest blogging was “stick a fork in it” dead, there are many benefits to guest blogging beyond links and referral traffic: building relationships, brand exposure, etc.
Earlier this week, I had a conversation with a brand manager at one of the manufacturers I met at Modex; I was interested in pitching a guest blogging opportunity to her (on behalf of one of our clients) and, in return, she expressed interest in guest blogging for our client. Later that same day, my colleague and I pitched another guest blogging opportunity to yet another manufacturer our team had met at Modex. And so on.
The point is that stepping outside of traditional online marketing and into what many consider to be (at least previously) the role of journalists/PR professionals has already paid off in a very big way.
There is no “magic formula” for effective content marketing (nor, I would imagine, is there for public relations, although I have no “official” experience with it). Like anything else in the digital marketing world or otherwise, it’s a trial-and-error process.
But, if I’ve learned anything from my recent experience overlapping with PR professionals and dabbling in interviewing, it’s this: Two heads really are better than one (unless, of course, this is you)?
How has your company started to integrate content marketing and PR? In what ways have you found the most success? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!