PR professionals have always been writers and communicators. Building a brand with words and telling great stories has been our specialty, whether those words were on paper or in dialogue. Pitches, press releases, bylines, blogs, and syndicated content have all been important tools of the trade. Clients can get a lot of good exposure from a great interview, spot-on coverage, or a well-written byline.
In the world of content marketing, that principle is alive and well. As search engine optimization becomes more about creating quality content than stuffing keywords into short articles or implementing dodgy link-building programs, PR agencies should be taking the helm and crafting content strategies for clients.
PR pros should have a hand in repurposing PR content to create eBooks, white papers, and SlideShare presentations. They know who to tell the story and can bring together the writing, graphic, and design skills needed to develop compelling and effective content.
All the content that's fit to cover
Content marketing brings a new level of pressure – and value – to PR agencies. The value of a blog post can be tracked by views. The effectiveness of a white paper can be measured by downloads. These kinds of metrics raise the stakes for an agency's content creation and blur the lines between a marketing campaign and a PR campaign.
The difference is that PR can leverage content as part of a holistic communications strategy. Press coverage offers the credibility and analysis that prospects still need to make a decision, but the lifetime and effectiveness of coverage can now be expanded like never before.
If an agency lands a piece of coverage in a news publication, PR can create a landing site or white paper for the readers who decide to visit the company website. Agencies can even create an email form that requires a reader's email address for the download – capturing leads and building brand awareness at the same time.
Since content is now a cornerstone for lead generation, PR is becoming focused on building funnels that start at word-of-mouth and end at lead generation. The content competition is only heating up, but as more PR firms get into the content business, we can only expect more – and better – content.
Martin Jones is managing partner at March Communications.