What is content marketing for PR, and why does it matter?

Content marketing for PR is about becoming your own media channel so you can communicate directly with your target audiences and in doing so, influence the outcome you’re after.

This can work in a number of ways:

1. DISCOVERABILITY

Publishing original content can help you get discovered. Whether people find you via social media, through search engines or word-of-mouth, publishing original content online can increase the chances of people finding and connecting with you, whether accidentally or as a result of searching for information on Google.

2. EDUCATION

People consume your content because they are interested in your cause, your product or your service, but they just need more information before making a decision. If your content is helpful in this regard, if it answers questions people may have about your business, its products and services; if it genuinely assists people with their purchasing decision, then you may be better positioned to make the sale. Research underscores the importance of this. For example, according to a study by Accenture, 94 percent of business-to-business (B2B) buyers report they conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product, while 55 percent of B2B buyers conduct online research for at least half of their corporate purchases.

I love how Trusted Advisor Associates goes about its business from a content perspective.

3. ENTERTAINMENT

Many major consumer brands in particular produce content designed to entertain their target audience and, in doing so, are hoping that a positive message rubs off. The logic, of course, is that by entertaining people, a brand potentially increases its chances of grabbing people’s attention. If such brands manage to do this on a consistent basis, maybe consumers will subscribe to their content and over time build an affinity with the brand.

A classic example here is Red Bull and its burgeoning action sports-related video catalogue, which has garnered over two billion views. Marriott Hotels, likewise, has attracted a lot of attention for its entertaining short films. This type of content often requires big budgets, and so is out of the scope of most businesses.

4. INSPIRATION

This is where companies, organizations and individuals can kick things up a notch with the content they produce.

By being able to inspire people to think bigger, become smarter, take action to improve their personal or professional life, brands are able to inject themselves into consumers’ lives at a deeper, more emotional level.

REI Co-op is a good example here. REI is a major US outdoor retail co-op “dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.” The brand consistently produces content that reinforces its purpose, including an online journal featuring stories, podcasts and high-production mini-documentary videos designed to inspire customers and lovers of the outdoor life.

4. VALIDATION

Chances are people today will hear about your brand, cause, issue, event, product or service in many different ways: in person through word of mouth, via a tweet or Facebook post, or potentially in a podcast interview or media story.

No matter which way they find out about you, if their interest is piqued, there’s a good chance they will check out your website, blog or social channels. Will the content they find on your site sufficiently validate that you know what you’re talking about, that you’re the experts in your space? Will they align with your philosophy and values?

This is where content marketing for PR excels because it relies heavily on building credibility and enhancing reputational value, factors that are more important today than ever before.

5. RELATABILITY

The more people build an affinity with your brand, the better. Content can certainly help in this regard if it focuses on people and stories, because these are things we relate to.

For example, content featuring employees and partners can help humanize a business, and in doing so it can increase relatability with people from outside of the company.

The same is true of real-life stories. If your organization tells interesting and genuine stories that people can relate to, this will help your brand connect on an emotional level with the public.

Also important is the way this type of content is produced. It needs to be authentic and human, not overly scripted and produced.

For example, live streaming and unscripted in-the-moment videos that take people behind the scenes of an organization can be quite effective. Oftentimes it can be raw, even chaotic. But that’s part of the charm. When we see a CEO on a video live stream stumble over her words and laugh it off, this builds connection. We can relate to her because we’ve all been there at one point or another.

For a great example of a leader who gets the power of authenticity, check out the videos of New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern.

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