How to Use Content to Drive Press
I recently wrote an article for Forbes on The New PR: How Content Supercharges Press. The connection between content and press is a question I get from almost every startup founder and marketing team I meet. And with good reason. On the one hand, 86% of B2B marketers use content as part of their digital strategies, and 70% report they are creating more content than a year ago. On the other, media coverage continues to be a sought after channel for raising a company’s visibility and brand awareness. So how, if at all, should these two pieces work together? This is my answer: When you aim your PR efforts at establishing thought leadership, PR and content should work hand-in-hand. Both PR and content showcase innovation and insight, though modified for different channels. As the Content Marketing Institute recently stated, “While content marketing beefs up one’s owned-media channels, PR bolsters earned media and likely garners new eyes for a brand.” Content and PR are both naturally more effective when the goal is audience education. Selling to your audience through content is the equivalent of blasting out news announcements through the media. It just won’t work. However, when you use content and media to share important industry insights, you reach new potential leads, establish your reputation as an industry thought leader, and bolster conversion activities by sales teams. So how do you create an integrated strategy that connects both content and PR? Here are a few approaches:
Hack your data for market trends: Just about every company is taking a close look at data analytics these days–or they should be. This data has a life beyond contributing to your company’s ROI and budgetary decisions. It can tell you what your customers care about and where your market is heading. You can create content that highlights proprietary insight and showcase it directly to your audience of customers. Or, you can offer your analysis to reporters who cover your space and explain why those trends matter, demonstrate how they fit into the bigger picture, and convince them why readers (and new potential leads) will care.
Turn the narrative into industry commentary: Businesses often share their company narrative, or story about why they exist. This is a phenomenon I often call “We’re here, who cares.” While it’s absolutely appropriate to tell your background story to your direct audience, it won’t move the needle in media relations. To make your company vision press-worthy, take the narrative and expand it to talk about how you’re filling a bigger gap in the bigger ecosystem. And if you can prove it, even better.
Build a content platform that supports your PR efforts: If you want to be a media resource, you need to establish that you are an an expert and credible source of information. One way to do that is to showcase your content. Strategically share insightful pieces of content with reporters who cover your space. Doing so will position you and your blog, as a source of industry news. The next time a reporter is writing a piece that is relevant to your company, they are more likely to reach out for your expert opinion.
Look for contributor opportunities in media outlets: Call it press, call it content. As more media outlets look to outside contributors to provide content, the opportunity for companies to showcase their expertise on highly visible media platforms grows. Whether you provide an insightful analysis of current events or discussions, present an innovative or unique point of view, or share ‘how-to’s’ with readers, contributed content piece are increasingly a cornerstone of any good press strategy. But beware– the bar is set high against company promotion in contributed pieces, and the content you are sharing must truly be value-add to readers. Plus, it helps to know what style of pieces are accepted, as it varies from outlet to outlet.
So is the connection between content marketing and PR here to stay? Sara Gaviser Leslie of Silicon Valley based In Other Words thinks so, “Increasingly we see clients invest in connecting their content and PR strategies–with a specific focus on thought leadership. Clients realize they must be strategic about their messages and what will resonate in which channels. We should expect to see this confluence of content and PR strengthen as investment in content marketing continues to rise.”