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Public Relations and Content Marketing: As Good as Chocolate and Peanut Butter

By: Nic Sells and Dustin Williams

While distinct in their origins, public relations and content marketing make a great partnership. Through strategic planning, the two can really complement each other—like chocolate and peanut butter. Content marketers can benefit from thinking more like public relations pros. And public relations pros can benefit by thinking more like content marketers. 

But, before explaining how, we should define these two terms.

According to the Public Relations Society of America, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Content marketing, as defined by the Content Marketing Institute, is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Now, as similar as these definitions appear, there are, in practice, some differences. Put simply, public relations relies on earned media to share newsworthy content to a (potentially) wider audience than content marketing. It might be used to promote events or ideas, rather than just a product or brand.

Instead of earned media, content marketing leverages owned media to share informational and useful consumer information on social media or in the form of blogs, podcasts, eBooks, YouTube videos, brochures, etc. The list goes on. Be creative.

The aforementioned differences aside, the message public relations and content marketing share is the same: “We want to educate and help consumers make decisions by providing valuable information.”    

So, how can content marketers benefit by thinking more like PR pros, and vice versa?

PR as a Vehicle for Content

Content marketers are ninjas at creating valuable and quality information to share with consumers. From “Is the Keto Diet Right for Me?” to “How to Pour Concrete,” content marketing messages focus on educating the public—with the hope of sparking profitable consumer action.

In addition to leveraging websites, YouTube accounts and social media channels for content marketing promotion, distributing content via press release can potentially reach a wider, and different, audience than your owned media assets.

Now, realize that the fastest way to get a press release rejected is to fill it with promotions and links to your website. So, content marketers need to “PR” their messages up for them to be distributed at all—and, furthermore, for their distribution to be successful. And what’s the best way to “PR-ify” any message? Two ways: Think about its newsworthiness and timeliness. Journalists want interesting stories to tell, just as much as their readers want interesting stories to read.

If your “Is the Keto Diet Right for Me?” blog doesn’t seem newsworthy (hint: it isn’t) then think about an angle that is. For example, you could write a press release about the top 10 reasons people choose to go on the keto diet. Both journalists (covering the right industry) and readers would find that piece of content valuable.   

Respect journalists’ time by creating content that is newsworthy, timely, interesting and worthwhile. Does this mean there’s no room for promotion in your press release? Of course not. After all, that’s why you’re writing and distributing newsworthy content in the first place. And journalists know that. Just ensure the promoted product, or brand, or idea, or service, or whatever, fills a need or answers a question.

Regardless of what others may say, distributing press releases is still a great way to build brand awareness and create social buzz around your topic. Just keep your links and self-promotion to a minimum. Most press release distribution services have guidelines on how many links they allow. But, in general, keep links to your website, blog or other owned channels to one or two per press release.     

PR for SEO

Press releases are widely distributed on the Internet and, with some strategic planning, they can provide great SEO value. Identifying and inserting important industry keywords into press releases makes them more searchable. And a brand citation from a relevant or high authority website helps your business rank higher in search.

Search engine algorithms look at the theme and topical relevance of the content of a press release. They then use this information to “connect the dots” between an organization and its area of expertise.

For example, a mental healthcare provider will benefit by distributing a press release about ways to overcome anxiety, or tips for adopting an attitude of gratitude, or any other newsworthy mental health topic. In the above example, search engines will see the link to the organization’s website and use it to more closely associate the healthcare provider with the topic of mental health—helping establish the brand’s authority and topical relevance.       

But, perhaps more important, and certainly more exciting than the link-building and topical relevance benefits of a press release, is the chance that a well-written and engaging release is picked up by a large media outlet and reaches a vast audience. Can you say brand awareness?   

Conclusion

PR and content marketing go hand in hand. It’s the digital marketing equivalent of chocolate and peanut butter ice cream. Content marketers can benefit from creating newsworthy stories that help their audiences solve problems while building brand awareness through press release distribution. And public relations specialists can benefit from utilizing relevant keywords and links to boost search ranking.

For any PR or content marketing needs, contact FORTHGEAR. We’ve been doing this stuff for more than 20 years. You could say we know what we’re doing. From strategic social media management and SEO best practices to website design and development, we help your company compete in the often knock-down, drag-out world of digital marketing.

Nic Sells

I’m a Marketing Specialist at FORTHGEAR. From writing blogs to social media editorial calendars to vlog scripts, I approach everything I do with an eye on strategy. When I’m not in the office, you can find me cycling, hiking, fly fishing or doing projects around the house.  

Dustin Williams

I’m a Google Ads certified digital marketing expert. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations and Advertising from Weber State University (WSU) and over a decade of experience in the fields of web design and Internet marketing. I’ve been a guest lecturer on search engine optimization (SEO) best practices at Weber State and Utah State University (USU). I own an African Cichlid aquarium and enjoy coaching baseball in my spare time.

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