Editor’s Note: Heidi Sullivan is presenting Leveraging Social and Content Marketing: Tools for the Future of PR at the PRSA 2015 International Conference on Monday, Nov. 9, 11:45 a.m.–12:45 p.m. The following is a guest post previewing her session.*
PR, content and social are converging. Walls continue to fall between disciplines, presenting a major growth opportunity for PR pros to layer earned, owned and paid media to amplify key messages, reach target audiences and maximize outcomes. This integrated approach to PR also better positions us to quantify and prove the value of our efforts, which also means access to a bigger piece of overall marketing budgets.
Consider the following best practices to integrate content, social and PR in a way that drives meaningful business results:
1. Sync up all three with overall communication goals. Smart PR programs aren’t designed to simply amass brand mentions and clips. Instead, they focus on building awareness, establishing authority, increasing website traffic and generating leads – results that directly improve a company’s bottom line. Content and social should ladder up to these same goals, and yet brands often jump in without considering whether or not they actually do. Remember: The real magic happens when PR, content and social work together to accomplish the same things.
2. Get creative with your content. If no two brands have the same PR goals, then no one type of content or social campaign fits all. Too many PR pros hear the words “content marketing” and automatically think of infographics and e-books. Don’t get me wrong, those can be very effective under the right circumstances. But, think outside the box and you can come up with some cool, alternative ideas – branded video, virtual events, podcasts, or even comics. Experiment with different ideas … as long as they tie back to your goals, of course.
3. Emphasize content promotion. If you’re going to invest money in content marketing, you have to be able to justify the expense. More than just creating a piece of content, you also have to think strategically about when, where and how you’ll distribute it to reach and resonate with the right audience. That’s called PR. Social promotion – both paid and organic – needs to be part of your strategy. Additionally, think about what other touch points you have. Can you draft emails for your sales or business development team to send a piece of content you create to prospects? Don’t forget employees either. How can you turn internal advocates into external champions who are willing to disseminate content on your behalf?
4. Think in cornerstones and cobblestones. To further justify your investment, find ways to repurpose content to maximize reach and extend its shelf life. For example, when Cision launched our content marketing suite late last year, our PR and marketing focus was an e-book, “Power Your Story: Content Marketing Essentials for PR.” From that single e-book, we also created 54 different pieces of thought leadership, including webinars, tip sheets, earned media placements and email campaigns. Think of the major effort as your “cornerstone” content, and then think through smaller, less time-intensive “cobblestones” to support it.
5. Measure the results that matter. Referencing our e-book one more time, we tracked the number of downloads as an initial metric, and then tracked sales leads that came from those downloads. From those leads that converted to sales, actual revenue was tied back to the campaign to determine ROI. (And, our PR, marketing and social teams all worked together throughout the entire process.) It doesn’t always have to tie back to sales, however. The point is: Track tangible metrics that tie back to your organization’s strategic objectives.
Heather Whaling, founder and president of Geben Communication, and I will share more tips, best practices and real-world examples during our PRSA International panel, “Leveraging Social and Content Marketing: Tools for the Future of PR,” on Monday, Nov. 9, at 11:45 a.m. in International 9. In the meantime, tweet us your PR and content questions at @hksully and @prTini.
Heidi Sullivan serves as the senior vice president of digital content and managing director of Canada at Cision. Named as The Hub’s “Individual Influencer of the Year” in 2014 and one of PRWeek’s “40 Under 40 Rising Stars in 2012,” Sullivan leads the company’s digital and broadcast content teams and the global research team for Cision’s media database. Follow her on Twitter @hksully