I hear it all the time: “We’ve already worked with a PR firm, and we’ll never do that again.”
Potential clients regularly tell us about the nightmarish experiences they’ve had with public relations firms and often expect content marketing to leave them frustrated and disappointed, too.
But when you compare the strategies and goals behind each, you’ll see that content marketing and PR are really very different. Thought leadership content helps establish a brand’s voice and credibility rather than simply increasing a brand’s exposure.
Whether you’ve experienced a PR stunt gone wrong or had a breakdown in communication with your PR agency, you shouldn’t discount what content marketing can do for your brand to help you command the conversation and reignite customer trust and loyalty.
Traditional PR focuses on getting the word out about your company. Agencies accomplish this by pitching articles to journalists and hoping they’ll mention your company. The main objective is ultimately to promote your company.
But as the marketing landscape moves toward content, traditional PR firms have expanded into content creation and social media management. Our potential clients most often express grievances when they relied on PR firms for published content. They say PR falls short in the following areas:
The underlying problem in all the objections above is that PR simply didn’t meet the clients’ needs. Maybe they were promised something that was never delivered, or maybe they didn’t fully understand what they were signing up for. In any case, these experiences are classic examples of misaligned expectations.
If your company is looking to showcase its expertise through in-depth articles from the CEO or other executives, exude your brand personality, and engage potential customers, content marketing might be for you.
People want to do business with people they like. Thought leadership can express your distinct brand voice, attract like-minded people, and generate more leads than surface-level promotion.
Content marketing can also tie together your inbound and outbound marketing efforts and compound their effects by educating potential leads and offering more opportunities for them to find your company.
Consistently producing content will ultimately drive traffic to your site, too. Studies have shown that inbound marketing is 54 percent more effective in delivering leads than PR-modeled outbound marketing. This ties back to the credibility and authority your content commands and the positive report you establish within your industry.
Even if all of this sounds great, diving into content marketing can still seem daunting if you’ve been burned by a PR agency.
But let me assure you: Content marketers are not PR agents, and you should have different expectations than you would when working with a PR firm.
Being a thought leader means being a resource to your audience — with content being your vehicle to be valuable in more ways than one. Consider these aspects of what being an influential leader looks like.
PR focuses on shining a light on your company, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But there are lots of things it isn’t designed to accomplish. PR is all encompassing, which focuses more on the headline, rather than which audience it’s actually reaching. Content on the other hand, is less focused on the headline and more about the quality of the content and how it benefits an audience. Content marketing and thought leadership work to build your brand and engage your target audience, which takes time, trust, and a commitment to providing real value.
I'm a VP at Influence & Co. I love the St. Louis Cardinals, Mr. Pibb, and Reese's. My favorite things to do are spend time with my family, play outside, and wrestle with my Great Dane.