DIGITAL INTERACTIVE SERVICES
Should you choose public relations or content marketing for your business?
Understanding Public Relations
Do you remember the ALS Ice bucket challenge that became viral on social media in 2014? The challenge involved a quirky dare: withstand a pail of ice-cold water poured on you.
This challenge started spontaneously from people related to those diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). The effort helped raise awareness about the condition and, more critically, $115 million for the ALS Association to help discover a cure.
This is a stellar example of a public relations (PR) campaign. Though this specific example pertains to individuals' efforts, the impact of successful PR efforts is the same for organisations as well. Dove’s Real Beauty campaign stands as testimony to this claim.
Now for the definition of PR: Public relations is a communication strategy adopted by businesses to positively influence public perception of their organisation and raise brand awareness.
Typical approaches include print media, television news coverage, or social media. Apart from building a positive image for the business, PR is also tasked with managing crises arising from negative media coverage and mitigating its consequences.
How is PR different from content marketing?
PR and content marketing are distinct business functions of a business and offer advantages of their own.
Each has its own set of success measures. For content marketing, it is the amount of online traffic or conversion rates that a piece of content creates. For public relations, it could be the number of viewer impressions, sentiment analysis, or media placements.
They both have clearly defined target audiences and areas of operation too. Some distinct differences between the two are outlined below:
PR: (i) The emphasis is on direct brand promotion; (ii) Writers and journalists are involved to convey the company's narrative and develop a positive sentiment; (iii) The audience base is much larger — includes customers, media professionals, influencers and other stakeholders — than that of marketing.
Content marketing: (i) The focus is on lead generation; (ii) Businesses create and share blogs, videos, infographics, social media posts, etc. to pique a customer’s interest in its products or services; (iii) The target audience is limited to existing and potential customers.
What to choose between PR and content marketing?
Do you simply want to generate interest in your company? Then content marketing is your best option. However, if you are deliberately aiming to increase positive perceptions about your firm, PR will accomplish the task.
Businesses want both. Therefore, a marketing model that involves both working together makes practical sense.
For the handshake to work, let us look at the commonalities between PR and content marketing:
- A common approach: storytelling
- Shared goals: capture public attention, amplify brand awareness and deliver a positive message to buyers
With content marketing, you publish material through your website, but with PR, this information can reach news outlets and media influencers. The fact is, people trust their favourite news organisations more than they trust a brand. It is critical to keep this in mind when attempting to raise brand recognition.
Imagine columnists sharing your content — an amazing validation of your content and a great chance that it'll go viral! You are sure to be the talk of the town.
But then, the standard marketing team of an organisation doesn't have access to the media outlets that PR specialists do.
Companies must ask how to make the functions work efficiently with each other rather than which of the two to choose.
A mutually inclusive PR-content marketing strategy is most certainly conceivable, achievable and profitable.
PR and content marketing have several advantages when they work together, including:
- Amplified content, leading to increased reach and impact.
- Improved SEO.
- Increased engagement through comments, and therefore better future campaigns.
- Up-to-date, consistent and organised information sharing.
Brands have traditionally relied on PR to develop their public image and reinforce their presence among the general public. With social media, PR operations now take place in the digital arena, with journalists and influencers playing a significant role.
In comparison, content marketing is still in its early stages, yet it shares many parallels with public relations. Both employ written text or video to deliver a specific message, and both elicit an action (viewing a website, purchasing, etc.).
A healthy association between content creators and PR professionals is the way forward if businesses want to maximise their marketing efforts.
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