Content Marketing & PR: Powering the Marketing Engine with Earned Media

As a lead strategist at the Content Marketing Institute (among a number of other professional endeavors), Robert Rose is a renowned expert on all things related to content marketing. We recently asked Robert to share his thoughts on the topic of PR and its relation to content marketing, and the resulting Q&A below is chock full of tips and insights. We hope you enjoy it!

PR Newswire:  What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term…

Content Marketing… 

Robert Rose: Well, the first thing that comes to mind is “my job”.  But the second thought is how marketers are using organic content and dynamic storytelling to positively affect business results.

 Public Relations… 

RR: A core practice that is undergoing fundamental disruption.  I’m a HUGE, passionate fan of public relations.  But I think the practice of Public Relations has lost its way a bit – especially as it pertains to being the corporate “storyteller”.  If there’s one group that should be embracing the ideas of content marketing – it’s PR.  And, sadly, because in many cases it has lost its strategic seat at the table (save for crisis management) PR is one of the last departments to actually get to embrace content marketing.

Daisy Rose, via BigBlueMoose on Flickr.

 Man’s best friend  (a slight digression, but I had to throw this one in here given that you’re fellow dog lover)

RR:  Oh my god – you’re tempting me to embed pictures of my dog here aren’t you.

PRN:  Yes.  We are.

PRN: What are the parallels between content marketing and PR? (What does PR lend to content marketing, and vice versa?)  

RR: I’m reading a wonderful book right now called PR! By Stuart Ewen.  It’s basically a history of the practice.   In that book, there’s a phrase that’s used frequently describing how “images used as persuasion” was at the core of PR.   That’s directly related to content marketing of course.  The question for brand marketers and product marketers is how can they tell the larger story of a brand/product to fill the emotional well of customers, in order to change or enhance their behavior.  These are identical goals.

blog_quote_RobertRosePRN:  In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about PR?

RR:  I think maybe that it’s a separate thing from marketing.  A well integrated PR program is much more than just investor relations and/or pushing content (news releases) into the publishing space or (candidly) more than issuing a “social” release that simultaneously tweets/blogs/distributes your latest press release.    An integrated PR program is one key component of telling a broader and more valuable story.  The opportunity is to really leverage earned media in order to power other parts of the marketing engine.

 PRN: If a PR practitioner was sitting across the table from you right now, what advice would you give them as to how they can help their respective organizations amplify the results of their content strategies?
IRR: Well – that’s a bigger topic than this format allows for – and probably needs great beverages to go along with it.  But here’s one quick piece of advice.  The power of today’s distribution services is being squandered by most companies.  Somewhere along the line, companies got the idea that there was only one way to write a press release – and we all swallowed the blue pill.  Why does every press release read like a press release.  Guess what – if we (as marketers or PR professionals) write the article we WANT the outlets to run – the distribution service will still distribute it.  It doesn’t have to speak in Corporate-ese – or in some bland, “we’re proud to announce that blah blah blah”.   Let’s start writing compelling, engaging content – and use the distribution service as a mechanism to get that story out in the market place.

PRN:  What opportunities or benefits exist for organizations whose PR and marketing departments work collaboratively on a content strategy?

 RR: The main opportunity and benefit is a truly cohesive story across paid, earned and owned media.  The Altimeter folks are doing some great work on this front – and I’d encourage anyone to read their work on this topic.  But truly, if you are interested in the ROI of Content Marketing, so much of it has to do with being able to leverage a cohesive story across these channels.  For example, if we look at Coca Cola – and their content marketing.  They produced a piece of content (The Security Camera video) and it was popular on YouTube.  So, nice content marketing right?  Well, right – except that they also used it as an ad for the Super Bowl (after they understood that it resonated on YouTube) and they got tons of earned media on outlets covering it.   Paid, owned and earned media making content work MUCH harder for the organization and justifying the cost of creating great, impactful content.

 PRN: Is there an organization, or two, that you can point to as being successful in rallying both marketing & PR departments around overall content goals to achieve results while working within a limited budget?

Yes, certainly (as mentioned) Coca Cola is doing as good a job with content as anyone.  Also, of course, you can’t avoid mentioning Red Bull – who people have described as a media company that also sells a canned drink.   But I’d also point to B2B companies like SAS and SAP who are doing a good job with content and storytelling.   And, finally – State Farm Insurance and their work with the William Shatner fried turkey  video is a wonderful example of marketing, PR  – turning into great content marketing. 

st farm wm shatner

Learn more about how PR and content marketing strategies can be combined to produce powerful and compelling earned media that reaches the right audiences by tuning into our on-demand webinar,”Fueling the Content Marketing Engine Through PR.”

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