What is Public Relations? Is it still relevant? Or has it become the older (gone-by-the-wayside) sister to the younger, hipper Content Marketing?
With both public relations and content marketing focused on getting attention (i.e. gaining awareness) I see them as collaborative performers, rather than competitive sisters vying for parental affirmation from the public. It’s not one or the other; it’s just multiple ways of stirring your story into the mix of what people are reading, viewing, observing, or hearing.
And so if Public Relations is just that—a relationship with the public—how do you achieve it, and how do you introduce Content Marketing into that relationship?
A few things to define:
- Your Public — Who are they?
- Your successful outcome — What is your idea of a successful outcome?
- Your message — What is the story that will hook your public?
- Your means to convey — How do you form the right relationship with your public?
Your public is your existing client roster, your potential customers, and the influencers in your industry and beyond. In addition to your clients and those you are going after, you will want to be sure to add to your targeted audience, the thought leaders and the trend definers in your market and in business. This may take a bit of research to determine, but if others are listening to them—these thought-provoking leaders of ideas—then you want their ear. If you have their ear and their interest, your company and its story may become the next greatest thing they are talking about to all who are listening. And remember, everyone is listening, at least for the moment.
Your successful outcome is what you’re trying to achieve by making yourself front and center (i.e. gaining awareness). It’s your organization rising up above the din in your specific industry arena and in the market. It’s your story creating a stir, and rather than blending in, it stands out to your public and rises above the cacophony of products, services, and companies. Think of it in terms of a party. If you don’t enter the room with confidence and insert yourself into the conversation, you most certainly will not be noticed by your prospective customers or those who will influence them. But how do you become the one who holds the room’s attention?
Your message is your hook, your story, your appeal, your benefit, and ultimately, your brand. Your brand, strategically defined, is what you place out there for folks to know about you. It’s the story of your products and services, your organization, and its culture. It’s the thing that makes others want to stand near you at the party, and listen to your story. It’s part perception and part reality. The reality of your story is that you have this really fantastic set of services and products, but if the public perception of your company says otherwise, well, that’s a difficult mountain to overcome.
Your means to convey are broad and wide. Traditional public relation efforts involve going after the spotlight by pitching the story to key media representatives, and encouraging them to publish and talk about some aspect of your pitch through their media vehicles. It involves finessing the relationship until your pitch becomes one they rely on consistently as one “of interest.” Content marketing relies on the story—well-crafted and clever, quick and notable—to be spread about on social media, blog posts, and websites in disseminated sound bytes, quick-to-read and easy-to-share. And this is where the strategy comes in—once your story is created, the correct content strategy and public relations road map will help ensure that it lands in the places where your public is looking and listening.
Your story will require adaptations and chapters and updates to keep the stream flowing to your public. Think of it as a best-selling author and the public that impatiently awaits his or her next book. Once you establish yourself as a storyteller of interest and a service provider of quality, your clients will impatiently await the next chapter from you; the next new product, service, or social media post that reminds them that they are working with an influencer, a thought leader, and innovator.