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Content Marketing and PR: When Similar Worlds Collide

James Perrin

by James Perrin on 31st December 2012

Public RelationsFor any Content Marketer, creating content ideas with traction is arguably the toughest, but also the most exciting and rewarding part of any campaign. Whether you’re working client side or in-house, your job can be made all the more easier, just by liaising with Public Relations professionals.

Making an impact

How much time do you spend thinking of creative content ideas that will make a big impact? If you find yourself spending more time creating content, as well as focussing on little details, then chances are you’re wasting valuable time.

It was Dave Trott that opened my eyes to this. As a bit of a big fish in the advertising world, he preaches that most of advertising gets lost in the initial phase, the impact phase – this is where 90% of communication becomes wasted. All too often, advertising people spend more of their time thinking about what to say and how to say it, but it’s all meaningless if they haven’t made that initial impact. So what does this have to do with Content Marketers working with PRs? Stay with me.

The success of Content Marketing, much like advertising is down to the impact it has on its audience. Sure, as Content Marketers we are not here to interrupt our audience’s content, like traditional advertising does. However, rather, we are here to create content for the very same audience to read and share. But in order for them to share such content, it has to make an impact. This is where PRs can help.

The value of an idea lies in its implementation

It’s been highly documented how Content Marketing has become an integral part of SEO, and I totally agree. But it’s also clear to me that whilst Content Marketing is made up of a little bit of SEO, it’s also made up of a bit of PR too. Mike Essex wrote a blog post about this recently [See: Am I Still An SEO If….?]

So, if Digital Marketing is becoming a melting pot of SEO, content, PR and all sorts, then ask yourself if your teams are speaking to PR agencies or PR teams more regularly. If not, they should be, mainly because it helps to get ideas flowing. Yet, also because that one idea can make a huge impact both offline, and more importantly to us, online – it’s all about how that idea is used.

So we know that PRs and Content Marketers need to work together more often. This is something that any SEO or Content Marketer should strive for in 2013. But let’s look at how the two can work together – here are my top tips to help get ideas flowing and to achieve and help build better campaigns.

Working with PR teams: my top tips

1. Arrange a kick-off meeting/call

Whether you’re working in-house or agency side, be sure to get in touch with your, or your client’s PR team/agency. Believe me; they will be just as interested in what you do, as you are in what they do. So touching base initially is a great way to build bridges, contacts and networks. Have an idea of what you would like to discuss, with a series of questions. It’s important to have an end goal, so whether it’s just to make initial contact, or whether you’d like something more out of it, such as campaign ideas, be sure to know what you want from it first.

2. Discuss any previous or future campaigns

The best way PRs can help with your Content Marketing campaigns is by discussing what they have worked on in the past, and what campaigns/ideas they have coming up in the future. In doing so, you’ll have a better understanding of what the company/client has already worked on and what plans they have for the future. An ideal scenario is if the PR department or agency were working on a specific area, such as a new line of products or services. This gives you a rich area of ideas in which to tap.

3. Ask for any additional material

With this in mind, ask the PR department/agency if they can provide you with additional material that they have or will be working on in the near future. Photos, images, testimonials, scripts, interviews, but also market research, customer research and data. Data driven content is going to be huge in 2013; the better the data, the more unique and the better the quality of your content. As a result, ask if they have ever performed any market research and ask if you can use the stats too.

4. Co-ordinate your efforts

Any campaign will benefit from a coordinated approach. In other words, if you and the PR department/agency are working on the same campaign, then, in theory, it will only serve your campaign well.

Let’s say, for example, that the PR agency of a client of yours has recently embarked on a fundraising campaign for charity. The agency have set about creating all sorts of offline material, perhaps an interview here, a media appearance there; but they have very little idea of what to do online. Well, here’s where a coordinated approach will work wonders. Such an idea provides a rich tapestry of online content; blog posts, video interviews, media links, photos and all sorts. Two different disciplines, working towards the same goal, all for the good of the client’s campaign.

5. Keep them in the loop

Once you have established a plan of your content or have come up with a number of ideas, simply let the PR agency/department know about it. They too revolve around ideas in their business, so by giving a few here and there will help to coordinate your efforts as mentioned, but also strengthen any connection or relationship between the two.

6. Give them SEO tips

Another way of working with a PR agency is by giving them a few SEO tips. Now, I’m not talking about giving away all of your tips, but just enough education to perform. You’ll be surprised to hear that a number of PR teams and agencies are actively learning more about SEO, because its seen as something of an evolutionary step for them. So, a little helping hand along the way will go far – which leads us nicely onto my next point.

7. Ask for PR tips

If you don’t ask, you don’t get; so be sure to ask for a few PR tips. Whether that’s pitching to a blogger/website, or even getting a name or number from someone high profile at the website you really want a link from. Obviously, you would need to have built up a good working relationship with any PR before delving straight into, “do you know anyone at the BBC?” line; but a few PR tips may well work wonders for your SEO campaigns.

8. Don’t tread on their toes

This leads us nicely onto my final tip; whilst it’s all well and good working together, sharing ideas and tips, you really don’t want to be treading on their toes, asking too much from them, or annoying them in any way. If you’re working on behalf of an agency, they could easily go straight back to the client and complain. Don’t go in all guns blazing. Start off slowly; establish ideas, and share tips and tools, but do not expect to get names, contacts and links at the drop of a hat. Work with them to achieve the same goal, and that’s all that counts.

Do you have any tips of working with a PR agency or PR team? If so, please share your tips below. I’d love to read your thoughts.

Image Credits:

Public Relations Concept from BigStock Photos

James Perrin

James Perrin

Content Marketing Manager, James Perrin is a regular contributor to the Koozai blog. Well experienced in sales and marketing, James also has a passion for journalism and media, especially new media. From the latest industry related new stories to copywriting advice, James will provide you with plenty of digital marketing information.

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3 Comments

  • Kathy Long 28th January 2013

    Good PR can build great backlinks quite naturally so when working hand in hand with PR agencies, as an SEO agency, to avoid reinventing the wheel and duplicating efforts, I provide a list of bloggers we plan to contact in our link-building efforts and ask that they provide a list of media contacts they will be targeting. From that, we decide who does what. This is a TEAM effort and not competitive. We work TOGETHER for the GOOD of the client.

    Reply to this comment

    • James Perrin

      James Perrin 15th May 2013

      Hi Kathy, that’s a really good point. SEO and Digital Marketing can be quite fragmented at times, but if there’s a clear vision and understanding of what the goal is, all of these departments should be able to work together. The key is obviously communication and clear planning. You’ve given us some great advice there, so thanks for sharing.

      Reply to this comment

  • Casie Gillette 18th February 2014

    I wish I would’ve read this before I wrote my post! A lot of overlap…doh!

    I love the idea of asking for additional materials. We actually had an old client whose PR firm would send us scans of what was happening in the industry and research reports. It was really helpful for us in writing blog content for the client. Good tips in here thanks!

    Reply to this comment

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