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Why a Bad PR Experience Shouldn’t Deter You From Pursuing Content Marketing

Why a Bad PR Experience Shouldn’t Deter You From Pursuing Content Marketing

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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. 

Common PR Pain Points That Lead to Disappointment

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:

  • They don’t follow through on content creation. This is the biggest complaint I hear about PR firms. They pitch clients on content creation but then don’t follow through, which leaves busy CEOs with the task of chasing down the work. While PR firms can help a company gain exposure, these companies aren’t always equipped with the staff and expertise to take on content strategy, creation, and distribution. Traditional PR efforts don’t accomplish thought leadership goals, which can leave clients unhappy if they’re expecting the results that accompany consistent content creation. Content marketing, on the other hand, is specifically focused on creating content designed to educate and entertain your target audience from your unique perspective. 
  • Content isn’t aligned with the company’s mission. PR firms tend to struggle keeping content congruent with a company’s mission or personality because traditional PR doesn’t use your words to create campaigns. Content coming from your company, on the other hand, takes your insights right to your audience, so you’re accomplishing both initiatives of offering a quality message while still reaching that target market. It helps you interact directly with your audience in an authentic way and control the conversation.
  • The publications don’t reach the company’s target audience. PR firms are focused on snagging bylines, but these are often in publications that don’t reach the client’s target audience. Content marketing is about getting articles published in publications that your audience is already reading.
  • PR doesn’t help the company differentiate itself. Because many traditional PR firms take a one-size-fits-all approach, clients soon discover they aren’t able to break through the noise. Their content blends in with other articles, and they never have a chance to stand out and establish the credibility they were promised. 
  • The company can’t justify the cost without measurable goals. Cost, of course, is another huge issue. Clients tell me they’ve spent thousands of dollars a month on content that they ultimately couldn’t use or that fell short in building their image and conveying their personality.

Why a Content Strategy Can Restore Your Faith

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.

Content Strategists Are Not PR Agents

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. 

  1. Thought leadership content focuses on authenticity, not promotional plugs. Readers can detect a sales pitch when they read one. Instead of selling, content marketing focuses on adding value through creating engaging and entertaining content that showcases your brand personality.
  1. Thought leadership is hands-on. At Influence & Co., we focus on the relationship between our clients and the account strategist. We want to be an extension of the executive and the company, which requires clients to contribute quality insights and unique perspectives to ensure we accurately capture their beliefs. This is why thought leadership has lifetime ROI: You’re providing information that directs the conversation, not relying on an external agency to act as your brand’s mouthpiece 
  1. Thought leadership is about giving. Thought leadership means giving away those trade secrets while asking for nothing in return, and contributing your original ideas is essential to getting published in top-tier publications. However, constantly giving pays off by building trust and keeping your company top of mind.

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.

Don’t let one bad experience prevent you from doing what’s best for your company. Your business (and your audience) will thank you.

Download the Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing

Picture of Cherish Grimm

About Cherish Grimm

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.

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