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Confused About Content Marketing and PR? You’re Not the Only One

If you're not familiar with content marketing, you may have some questions. Content marketing is different from traditional PR, though it may seem confusing at first.

The phrase “content marketing” is infiltrating boardrooms everywhere. It’s thrown around so often that it’s achieved buzzword status. Even PR practitioners aren’t really sure what content marketing means for them. Should they be embracing it or fighting it?

Though PR and content marketing are often lumped together, these techniques are actually separate (though complementary) business strategies. One of the underlying tenets of content marketing is to position a brand in a positive light — like PR — but the road to building credibility through content requires a much different approach.

Public relations connects organizations with their audiences by informing the public and helping organizations gain exposure. With content marketing, companies create content that entertains and informs customers and the community, which in turn positions them as credible authorities in their fields.

Both PR and content marketing are important, but they work in different ways. Let’s take a closer look at the specifics.

Earned Media vs. Original Content

Public relations is associated with direct promotion, or reaching out to publications for coverage of a new product or initiative. Content marketing involves creating materials that provide non-sales-related value to customers and the industry. 

Here are a few more ways to differentiate the two:

  • Who is creating the content? Traditional public relations is the way to go when you want someone else to write about your brand. Content marketing happens when you want to tell the story.
  • Who controls the copy? When you pitch a story to journalists, you don’t get to approve the final copy and sign off on how they’re positioning your company. With content marketing, you create the copy that appears on your blog or in publications.
  • What’s your angle? Public relations is when you want promotion. Content marketing is used when you want to educate or entertain.

Why These Strategies Are Complementary

The best marketing strategy is to integrate public relations and content marketing. That means bringing the client, the marketing agency, and the content strategists together to develop the campaign. 

A good example of this is Fleksy, one of our clients at Influence & Co. Fleksy is a San Francisco-based startup bringing an innovative keyboard experience to mobile users.

Its internal marketing team reaches out to writers and connections at publications to gain coverage. Influence & Co. help Fleksy produce content that educates and informs entrepreneurs and other leaders in the mobile industry of new ways the company is transforming the keyboard landscape. Coverage by outlets such as TechCrunch attracts people to its product, and the content Fleksy creates boosts its credibility in the eyes of other industry leaders.

A cohesive effort behind the brand allows content strategists to:

  • Work with marketing agencies to ensure they’re connecting the company’s thought leadership content with external publications. 
  • Integrate the brand’s social media strategy with external content.
  • Integrate content with email marketing campaigns.
  • Post thought leadership articles on the company blog and add publication logos to the company’s “As Seen In” section to demonstrate credibility.

When working to build a brand’s image, sometimes one strategy needs to gain traction before the other can take off. At Influence & Co., we built our brand by starting with content marketing. Before anyone knew what this growing company in the middle of Missouri was doing, we were producing content and educating entrepreneurs and other thought leaders about content marketing.

We wrote articles about our company culture, leadership, content marketing, and branding. We created buzz and press for ourselves while controlling the content. Over time, people reached out to our leaders for interviews, editors asked us to write columns, and professionals sought our presence and expertise for speaking opportunities at conferences. Awards came, and local and national press followed. In our case, the earned media came after an aggressive, long-term content marketing initiative.

Every business needs a public relations strategy, and content marketing is an essential component of that. Providing content that serves the audience, rather than sells, establishes a brand’s value and proves knowledge and experience. The connections a brand makes through good content marketing can also lead to quality promotional treatment by media outlets, which creates a positive loop of coverage and content. 

If you’re weighing the pros and cons of content marketing and public relations, stop asking yourself which you should invest in. Ideally, you’d invest in both. But if you start with quality content, organic PR opportunities will present themselves. And then the story being told is all yours. 

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Post by Alyssa Brown, VP of Account Strategy at Influence & Co.

About Alyssa Patzius

My goal is to create an amazing experience for our clients from their very first interaction with our brand. My happy place is anywhere with good wine and cheese.

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