When Whole Foods wanted to sell turkeys on Thanksgiving, the company created a recipe-filled newsletter loved and shared by its customers.
And when a comedian dissed Smart Car by tweeting that he’d seen one totaled by pigeon poop, the company responded with a witty mathematical calculation of how much poop it would take to actually total a Smart Car. Its response resulted in 22,000 media impressions.
Successes like these blur the lines between traditional public relations and content marketing. The idea that PR (establishing the reputation of your brand) and content marketing (offering valuable content to build brand loyalty) are from different planets is becoming increasingly debatable.
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Marketers who wonder whether their company should travel a PR or content marketing route are asking the wrong question. Instead, PR should be for content marketing what bait is for fishing: Even if you hook a fish, it takes skill, patience, and effort to reel it in.
PR and content marketing are natural bedfellows. PR is a short-term push that brings attention to your brand, while content marketing is a long-term source of re-engagement for people who initially heard about you through a PR initiative.
PR often takes the form of a quote in an article, a placement on a list, or an event sponsorship. Content marketing, on the other hand, often means long-form educational content on websites, blogs, or industry publications. It also encompasses whitepapers, eBooks, or podcasts.
Let’s say your prototype was featured on BuzzFeed as one of 26 products that people can’t believe don't exist yet. Who wouldn’t want to know more about the company that makes a pair of sneakers that double as a mobile emergency shelter? That initial interest will naturally die down and that’s where content marketing comes in.
Giving those people who showed interest in your product valuable, educational, and engaging content will keep them coming back until they’re ready to buy multipurpose footwear — or simply want a different type of camping experience.
PR gets the word out; content creates brand awareness and loyalty, ultimately turning leads into customers.
A few years ago, a PR person might have spent months building connections to get his company on a list of the best companies to work for in the state. These days, being seen as an industry leader is more about sharing knowledge and less about getting mentioned.
If your company really is the best place to work, you have to write about your company culture and hiring practices, engaging potential employees and customers through authentic connections. It takes more effort, but it brings greater rewards.
When it comes to building trust, PR just can’t compete in a market where customers want to know everything they can about a company and its leaders. Customers want a connection, and telling a story through content is a great way to build that relationship. Then, when it’s time to buy, customers will lean on the trusted expert, rather than someone they saw one quote from in an article unrelated to the industry.
If your company is focusing on PR to build its reputation, your efforts are limited to shallow water. For authentic relationships with consumers, nothing beats content when it comes to landing deep in the hearts — and wallets — of your customers.
Post by Kelsey Meyer.