Neilson recently released a report claiming that branded content is not all it’s cracked up to be. The results of their study paint a poor picture for the performance of content marketing by brands, and new trends such as native advertising, which seeks to look similar to trusted content. It was strange for me to see PR folks take the results and run with this as a “victory” over content marketers. In my opinion, that’s the wrong attitude.
While the study was certainly interesting, what it fails to point out is that there are simply not a ton of companies that are doing branded content well. It’s an ongoing process as brands learn to talk less about themselves and more about how they can be helpful. It’s a movement towards branded content that is so good that you are proud to put your company name on it. Or better yet, as Jay Baer famously said, “Marketing so good your customers will pay for it.”
I remember seeing the same kind of backlash around using social media marketing for B2B. There were reports coming out of the wazoo claiming that social does not work for B2B, but the problem was simply that no one was doing it well. Fast forward a year or two and there are a tremendous amount of B2B companies using social to drive brand awareness and lead gen. The same could be said in this case as there are a lot of companies out there who are still refining their branded content strategy. So instead of pitting PR vs Content, here are three ways they can, and should be working together.
1) The Infographic is Not Dead – The traditional press release has had several makeovers in recent years and forward thinking companies are now embracing what I call the hybrid press release. This is a new type of press release that incorporates rich media including infographics and videos to help take the story to a whole new level with reporters and influencers alike. This is done by breaking down the silos of PR, Content and Social and rolling them into one cross functional team. One of my favorite examples is to include an infographic into your press release. Created by the content team, promoted by the social team, and launched by the PR team, this is a beautiful thing, which will very likely make a much bigger impact than any one of these teams going it alone.
2) Share Their Contacts – There is so much overlap between influencers, analysts, reporters, and thought leaders that it doesn’t make sense to keep these folks as part of one team or another. I recommend building a master list of everyone with columns for email, Twitter handle, segment, and who has the best relationship for outreach. This is perfect for developing a hybrid PR launch that includes all the appropriate influential people for outreach to a specific campaign or initiative. This doc can also serve as a checklist of sorts for keeping track of who has been briefed or contacted around each campaign.
3) A Unified Monthly Report – Instead of sending a list of PR links per campaign to your CMO, what if you sent over a full report that included not only the coverage, but which thought leaders, reporters, influencers, analysts, etc. shared, Tweeted, Liked, mentioned or simply were touched by your combined efforts. You can take it a step further by pulling together a list of Twitter handles, media sites and influencer blogs and track them in a product such as Radian6 to see if your Share of Voice and Share of Conversation increase or if you witness a spike in trend analysis based on your combined outreach efforts.
BONUS TIP: One of my favorite ways of tracking success with a unified PR, Content, and Social department is to create what I call the “Influencer Score Card”. Pull together a list of influencers to target from analysts, reporters, thought leaders etc, and score them visually from green to red on engagement. For example you can have three columns; mentioned you in social, wrote about your brand/ company, and had a face to face meeting. These will all start as red but over the course of your campaign they should move to yellow and ultimately green. It may not be pretty in the beginning, but if you are successful, you will be able to quickly show the fruits of your efforts with a easy to interpret visual that should be much more green than red.
There is a tremendous shift happening in the content world that will affect both PR folks and Content Marketers; it’s best to get aligned now so that we can all work towards that coveted fully integrated marketing strategy that is the future of marketing.
Are your PR and Content teams working together? If they are not, you are simply missing opportunities. Please join the conversation the comment section below.