Most PR professionals are very good at (and very comfortable with) conducting outreach to journalists in their efforts to “place” and promote clients’ work: groundbreaking research, new product or service, business book or other types of differentiating thought leadership. But when it comes to blogging, it can be challenging to translate such expertise into an effective content marketing strategy. And it’s truly no fault of the media practitioners. They’ve been conditioned, in many ways, to believe media outlets are the best channels to engage their clients’ audiences. At one time, this was true. But not in today’s environment.
The media landscape is quickly evolving, eroding even, and drastically changing public relations practices in the process. Luckily, the PR field is nothing if not resilient and I’m confident it will continue to adapt. One of the most important adaptations needed is a move away from earned media (publications) toward a more integrated approach with owned and shared media (websites, social media and email channels). This requires adopting an inbound marketing model, of which the star player is content marketing. The emerging philosophy is essentially this: Why wait for a journalist to tell your story? Establishing your own content hub allows you to better control your message and speak directly to your audience.Why wait for a journalist to tell your story when you can establish your own content hub?Click To Tweet
This is the future of PR. Understanding content. Shaping it, sharing it. Leveraging existing skill sets honed by media work to redefine success through content marketing strategy.
3 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing Strategy
1. Make it Newsworthy
Same rules apply. Just because you’re pushing out your content through your blog rather than placing it in a news publication doesn’t mean the writing doesn’t need to be crisp. Think like a journalist and make sure your content is:
- Timely. Reference the most current trends and best practices. Don’t date your expertise by the time your post publishes. It can help to tie your message to current events or otherwise newsy hooks, which will likely also increase its shareability.
- Relevant. You don’t have to stray too far from your comfort zone to get clicks. Make sure the information is highly applicable to both your business and the audience you’re aiming to attract.
- Targeted. Do your research. Craft detailed buyer personas to make your reader feel like your content was written specifically for them. Bonus: it makes writing the content much easier too.
- Actionable. With each new piece of content you create, ask yourself these key questions. Am I solving an important challenge for my buyer? Am I teaching my reader something new? Am I giving my reader something they can try next?
- Shareable. Last, but not least, drive engagement by focusing on seemingly simple things like writing a great headline, making your content snackable and baking-in opportunities for social interactions (e.g., tweetable quotes).
Taking the time to frame your content this way will keep your readers coming back for more, and hopefully lead to additional lower-funnel engagements, as well.
2. Create a Distribution Strategy
It’s important to spend as much, if not more, time attracting traffic to your content as you spend producing it. Consider all the marketing channels at your disposal, including paid channels. As long as your content is properly SEO-optimized and highly relevant to your audience, it should eventually bring in organic search traffic. Just keep in mind it will take time for Google to index and rank. Until that happens, leverage more immediate channels such as social media, email and paid media (e.g., boosting organic content on Facebook).
As any good PR person would do, it’s also critical to share your content directly with evangelists, partners, third-party influencers and other industry hubs, helping to promote as much organic reach as possible. Lastly, don’t forget about your best asset – your own network, including employees and other colleagues. Develop a plan to engage these internal influencers. Make sure they hear from you early and often and are rewarded for their contributions to your marketing success (e.g., consider incentives, even if small tokens of appreciation like food, or some other type of “gamification”).
3. Take Time to Measure Results
It’s easy to fall into the content production trap where you become so focused keeping the content machine going and fail to step back to assess how you’re doing – and how your content is performing. Maximize ROI by creating a plan to regularly analyze key metrics and use those insights to make decisions about what to do more, better or differently moving forward.
Blogging is inherently more measurable than traditional media because it’s all digital and the content typically lives on your own platforms. Make sure you have at least basic web analytics (e.g., Google Analytics) configured on your website, along with a CRM or database to capture new subscribers and leads. Then, determine your key performance indicators (KPIs) and how frequently you’ll conduct reporting. Whether it’s weekly, monthly or quarterly, it’s most important to put a consistent process in place – and stick to it.
This is Why PR + Content Marketing Strategy = A Perfect Match
Even though content marketing requires some new skill sets, it’s still all about content. And PR pros know content. In fact, we’re uniquely positioned to help organizations of all types make a seamless transition from traditional communications strategies to content marketing. Don’t dismiss the tried and true fundamentals, but definitely embrace emerging technology and newer approaches. By doing so, marketers and PR practitioners alike will find continued success in today’s uber-competitive, content-driven world.