Content Marketing is one of the hottest trends in our industry this year. But what exactly is it and how is it different to traditional marketing? Well at its most basic, it is creating content that is interesting, valuable, and informative and then distributing this through your marketing channels with the aim of enticing audiences to take action ideally, make a purchase.
Creating content and distributing it, sounds a lot like PR doesn’t it? The emergence of content marketing has ensured that PR and marketing are more intrinsically linked than they ever have been before. Used separately they each have an important role to play, but used together, they are a powerful tool, particularly in today’s ever changing communication landscape.
For public relations, ensuring you have a thorough understanding of your publics, the organisation or individual and the channels they each prefer to receive their information is as important as having clear goals and objectives. This is similar for content marketing where ensuring you have detailed buyer personas to help you determine the type, style, tone, topic and distribution channels of your content is not too dissimilar
The main difference between the two is that public relations uses the media to help connect organisations and individuals with their publics (target audience) and shape their perceptions through the creation and distribution of key messages that are clear, correct and relevant to all stakeholders. Content marketing on the other hand, generally uses the organisations “owned” media to distribute content. That is the company blog, social media channels, e-books all accessed via the organisations website.
When developing content, marketers know all too well how to promote their organisation and engage their audiences. PR professionals however can help ensure the content is focussed on the public and not solely on the organisation or its products. Because PR pros work closely with the media, their job is to create content so interesting, timely and relevant that the media want to run it. They know what stories are most interesting to the media and in this way can help to repurpose marketing content so that it can be distributed to the media and garner maximum exposure!
We’re all aware of the massive shift in the way people like to receive and consume their information and so the tactics used to deliver content and messages have had to grow exponentially to keep up. It seems like new avenues pop up almost every other day. The key is to ensure the content moves the audience/public along the buying journey by identifying the points in the buying process when content should be “released”.
Your purpose may be as simple as raising awareness of the organisation, or a particular product or service, or it may involve educating, informing and engaging your audience more broadly on topical issues that affect your organisation and the flow on affect to the audience. Regardless of your motivation, combining your content marketing and public relations efforts can only strengthen your brand communication and organisational position.
Picture this, your organisation is announcing a new product. Doing this on the company blog and through traditional marketing alone, will get to your existing audience. They know who you are, what you look like, and what you’re about. They may follow your social posts and engage occasionally and you may get some new customers. But, if a journalist or “celebrity” ambassador makes a raving review, or if you land the front page, a key breakfast television or radio spot, then audiences will be lining up.
If you’re keen to jump on the bandwagon and delve into the content marketing world to see what it can do for you, then you’ll need a cut through plan that will have audiences lined up at your door. The following is a quick snapshot of the key steps you will need to take:
- Set clear goals and objectives: Like any successful communications and marketing plan, having clear goals and objectives will help you to stay on track.
- Determine content themes: You may already be embarking on a particular campaign and have the key content topics in mind, but if not you will need to determine what themes you want to own and focus your content marketing efforts on.
- Detail buyer personas and key buyer actions: Specific buyer personas are the key to content success. They help you identify the wants and needs of a particular buyer as well as the questions they may ask or events they may encounter in their buying journey so that you can create specific pieces of content “just for them”. Buyer personas are developed using market research, organisational insights and as well as online trends. Buyer actions are the steps a buyer takes at each stage of the buying journey and it is important to detail these steps, so that you can identify content needs at each stage.
- Decide content type, design and mix: Deciding on the right content mix is the next step and the decision is generally based on budget available, resource capability and capacity as well access to external support. Types of content might include eBooks, fact sheets, case studies, newsletters, video, worksheets, templates, tools, whitepapers, reports, infographics, slide decks or blogs and will be guided by the preferences of your buyer personas.
- Map your content: Once you have decided on your content mix, you can then start to map it against the buyer stages matching the relevant content type to each buyer persona. Consider using a combination of owned, paid and earned channels to ensure you deliver the “right” content to the “right” audience at the “right” time.
- Measure, evaluate and adjust: As you would with any communication or marketing plan agreeing on the measurement metrics that will be used and establishing them early in the planning will ensure you capture and can report on the success of your content. Some metrics include, views and downloads, shares, followers, likes, lead generation, revenue mix, sales and market share.
And don’t forget to bring your PR pros along for the ride, they are after all the perfect partner.