It is more critical today, than ever before, for public relations professionals to deliver the right messages to the right audiences. Due to the rise of ‘Content PR’, companies have had to adapt the way in which they do this. For some time now, it has not just been about writing a press release and sending it to various media outlets. Instead communicators must ensure that the press release is also relevant for social media channels, and the broader audiences that these reach.
Social media has shifted the way information is consumed and it’s crucial to choose the appropriate mix of traditional PR strategies and newer social media tactics to support communications campaigns. Social media has also enabled content owners to engage directly with their target audience, through ‘earned’ and ‘owned’ channels as opposed to relying on ‘paid’ advertising. Choosing the right social channel to share content, is also just as important. Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase ‘the medium is the message’ – meaning that ‘the form of a medium embeds itself in the message creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived’. As ‘owned’ and ‘earned’ content continues to become increasingly important, PR companies who have adapted and embraced this skillset will thrive, while those who don’t, will see diminished success over time.
We live in a world where we are overloaded with information. Deciding what message you deliver, who you deliver it to, and how you deliver it is paramount. Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt is famous for having said ‘every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003’.
What is Content PR?
‘Content PR’ is a derivative from the term ‘Content Marketing’. The core content marketing and PR principles include:
- Understanding audience interests
- Creating relevant and compelling content
- Deployment of that content in various formats and across different channels in order to reach target audiences
Old vs New PR
Traditional press coverage in well regarded print or broadcast still offers credibility and continues to be very important in the world of PR. Figures from the Office for National Statistics gathered Jan to March 2013 show that 7.1 million adults have never used the internet. That’s 14 percent of all adults who have never been online. The majority of these are older people, with the figures jumping sharply among the over 75s. Only a third of this age group has used the internet, compared with 99 percent of all adults aged 16 to 24.
Despite this, it is clear that if you are looking to reach people outside of this older age bracket, it is critical that you consider social media. Regardless of your intended audience you need you look at all of the channels available to you; to decide which best suits your messages and will deliver them to your end consumer in the right way.
Content PR is all about getting creative with how you get the message out. Newer methods such as infographics, quizzes and surveys, writing a blog, starting up a LinkedIn discussion, setting up a Facebook page or tweeting about the ‘news’ has transformed the PR industry.
What is most important is to think about how you can ensure that the information you are distributing is what target audiences want and need – not just what companies want them to hear. Good PR professionals have always understood this and now these tools help us reach a much wider audience and create an ever bigger impact. ‘Content PR’ can shape opinion by providing consistent and valuable information to key stakeholders such as the media, shareholders, consumers, customers and company investors in a compelling manner that is right for them.
A good content PR strategy
Good content needs to be original, engaging and thought provoking - making a campaign, product or service stand out. Public relations professionals need to be able to repackage the same content for a variety of different purposes, whether that’s generating editorial coverage, sharing content via social media channels or creating blog posts and newsletters on a client’s website. It’s about identifying clients’ real needs, not just their perceived needs, and providing clear analysis, methodologies and clever consultancy that ultimately makes ‘Content PR’ successful. In addition, a good content PR strategy positions clients and companies as thought-leaders and experts within their industries. This helps build strong relationships with key industry influencers, customers and the public.
Good content becomes more valuable every time it’s shared by someone other than the PR companies or indeed, a company itself. There is an art to producing the right kind of content, which a consumer can actively engage with, and driving an article or campaign through social media channels is what makes the difference between it being seen by a handful of people and being picked up and passed on by thousands.
Every smart crisis communications professional knows that saying ‘no comment’ creates a vacuum where everyone – except the organisation in crisis – will be able to shape the conversation. This applies to ‘Content PR’ too. As public relations professionals, we can commit to publishing content worth talking about – or we can refrain and miss the opportunity altogether. If we want our stakeholders to engage with us, or our clients’ products and services, we have to commit and contribute to the conversation through all the relevant channels available to us.