Technology has changed the field of public relations forever, driving professionals to find new ways to reach customers. Instead of transmitting press releases to hundreds of news outlets in a designated area, PR consultants are now able to control the message reaching customers, building exposure through search engine marketing (SEM) and social networking.
Today’s drive toward content marketing is slowly eroding the wall between online marketing and PR. This new generation of professionals is entering a world driven far more by website searches than newspaper articles. To more effectively reach the consumers who will buy a product or sign up for a service, it’s important that marketers fully understand the growing marriage of public relations and content marketing.
The Purpose of Public Relations
While methods may have changed, public relations has always centered on controlling the message that reaches the public about a brand, organization, or individual. At one time, this was done through developing close relationships with media professionals and crafting print-friendly press releases, but fewer consumers than ever are turning to traditional media outlets for news and information. This is good news for PR professionals, who can now retain greater control over the message as it reaches the consumer.
PR professionals are often retained to get the word out about a brand, but they may also be called to clean up a bad situation. In the case of a massive data breach or a major accident involving an airline or ocean liner, PR experts will be tasked with minimizing any damage caused by bad publicity surrounding the event. Where in the past this was done through submitting press releases to media outlets, today’s image control is done through social media and company blogs.
PR Through Content Marketing
Content marketing is a natural fit for PR consultants, who often enter the field with a background in journalism. Instead of being confined to writing press releases and content for newsletters, however, today’s public relations professionals may find themselves writing social media updates, blogs, and articles, in addition to press releases they post online through press release distribution services. While there’s no denying the value of sending press releases to traditional presses, it’s now essential to include online outlets in PR distribution. This is normally designed to ensure when someone types a search term into Google, the results reflect the image the brand wants to project.
One commonality shared by both PR and content marketing is that they build brand awareness through the written word. Both fields are likely to attract professionals who have an interest in journalism or English. The difference is that today, content marketers and pr consultants have the ability to bypass the middleman and directly publish content online. Instead of waiting around for a reporter to decide whether to include a news item in his or her publication, marketers can now post the items themselves, reaching customers through search results and social media shares.
Content Marketing Through Video and Images
One challenge facing professionals in both fields is that images and video are increasing in popularity with consumers. A brand can stand out by creating an attention-getting video that is shared across multiple social media channels. Images are also powerful, with the ability to convey a message better than a thousand-word article ever could.
The challenge comes in standing out in search engines with video and images. Meta tags can help pictures win over search engine algorithms, but videos often rely solely on the description to boost search results. As a result, many marketers are finding that providing a transcription of each video helps. Not only does this provide content to boost rankings, it gives visitors who can’t watch the video something to read.
The emergence of visual marketing is a clear demonstration of how PR consultants and content marketers can learn from each other and create campaigns that work on both levels.
Now that many consumers get their information online, PR professionals are finding content marketing is an increasing part of any successful strategy. With many PR consultants having extensive training in journalism, the marriage is a natural one, and the internet will likely continue to have a direct impact on both public relations and marketing.