Content is king, but where's the queen and court?

All of us in PR have witnessed a renaissance of rich content in marketing.

All of us in PR have witnessed a renaissance of rich content in marketing.

This includes a literal landslide of journalists who now write for corporate America and numerous creative, viral strategies to help organizations draw attention to themselves, build communities, and encourage broad adoption of their products.

But an interesting thing has happened along the way: integrated marketing amnesia. The phone rings and callers are reading from a consistent script: “We've created [a video, an app, an e-book — fill in the blank], and nothing is happening. Help.”

There are some real misses out there, especially in the “viral” video category. That's because many people hold on to a belief that if something is cool enough, then all kinds of magical things will happen with great applause. Once that fan or following count hits a certain number or a video gets a certain number of views — then what?

Don't get me wrong. I am 100% on the content bandwagon. It's an exciting time and audiences want to hear interesting and useful things directly from companies, and from those watching them. And there are many very successful and clever ways to raise awareness with content.

But somewhere along the line, many in PR lost sight of the real goal and took as their measure of success things like mushrooming social media followings. Essential integrated marketing strategies faded. Often, attempts to be cool overcome context, connection, message, and, most importantly, a call to action that goes beyond simply clicking “like” on Facebook or watching a video and moving on.

As communicators, we need to remember that the goal isn't to gather friends, it's to persuade constituents to do something more meaningful that draws them closer to a company.

The beautiful thing for the PR profession is that we excel at making intelligent connections that drive action, especially between the pain and problems of an individual — or an entire industry — and possible solutions. New medical treatments. Something that tastes or works better. Ways to save the planet. And here is where PR shines in the new content-driven world.

Content may be king, but connection is certainly queen, and community holds court. Just one or two does not an action-driven marketing kingdom make.

Bryan Scanlon is president of Schwartz Communications.

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