Content is King, and Queen
Updated: Jul 15
You’ve heard it before, when it comes to communication content in all its forms is King and Queen. However, in our geographical corner of the world, this mantra seems to be a tough one to take onboard and PR heads still seem to be stuck in the traditional media title and media relations sand.
So, my purpose here is to rattle the cage to proffer the point:
“PR is about all types of content, across multiple channels. The story is the common element, but how it is told to the right people, in the right place, at the right time, is the opportunity that PR companies have yet to master and from which their clients have yet to fully benefit.”
Let’s not forget that the media (titles that are online, broadcast and in print) are incredibly important, and will always be so, but the PR opportunity (think revenue) is way bigger now than ever before.
Here are three concepts to get the neurons dancing:
Every Company is a Media Company (EC=MC) - organisations once relied on third party media to communicate their stories but now organisations have all the necessary tools that are also affordable, and therefore they have control - this means organisations have way more opportunity to communicate and influence, as long as it's not a sales pitch.
PESO - use a variety of Paid Earned Shared Owned media - the low hanging fruit in the PESO acronym include (there is cross-over between these channels but you get my drift):
Paid: advertising, advertorial, sponsored content, social advertising
Earned (our traditional stomping ground): media relations, newsfeeds, bloggers, influencers, commentators
Shared: social, community, word of mouth
Owned: website and company/brand stories, landing pages, campaigns, blogs, email, content marketing, videos, podcasts, newsletters
Topic authority is key - as algorithms have evolved so has the need to generate long form and detailed content to ensure topic authority so as to build a foundation of understanding for your business. Not having this will mean not being found. It’s not just about key words now, but being an authority - I even wrote a blog about this that mentions a vegetable. What about SEO? We can help with that, too.
The Newsroom Approach
Harking back to the news desks of old, there would always be an editor at the centre determining what would feature in the paper - remember “All the President’s Men?”
These news editors are the forebears to the current central role of communications - garnering and developing stories into content (not just news) for distribution - whether for media titles or direct to the target audiences using many different channels.
Looking at the hierarchy of a newsroom, there would be the editor and then the reporters researching and filing stories. Bring this forward to now, and the editor in a communication consultancy is the content curator and the reporters are those who develop the content - same gig, different strokes.
The Business Model
Content is about volume with some secret sauce thrown in, called strategy. It is not a typical high value, strategic PR consultancy model. Therefore the business model needs to be different with the focus on highly relevant, interesting and factually supported content in different forms. It’s all about engagement and building understanding communities by producing or manufacturing content.
Raw materials include: stories, campaigns, views and opinions, and promotions, the communications engine uses PESO mechanics and maybe AI tools in the future, and the output is distribution across different channels, such as media, social, email and digital.
Where to start?
Develop a content calendar, often called an editorial calendar. This comprises all the varied types of communication planned to be published over a rolling three month period. If your brain is stuck, there are plenty of tools to help with content ideas.
A content calendar creates rigour and consistency over publishing. The content itself should have specific aims and objectives and can be over a set period of time, or within a campaign. Separate campaigns could then run concurrently. Think written, audio and video. Developing campaigns creates focus for audiences on specific topics. Better to be focused than scattergun - that’s just confusing.
Volume and relevance, targeted at the right people, in the right place at the right time.
PR brings story telling value, and digital marketing is the science about delivery - left and right brain working together to bring value to organisations who get this.
This model can achieve more than just discussion in a media title - the results include: measurable understanding, interactions and engagement, and even sales (can PR really support sales? Yes, it can).
This process is an integral part of your sales funnel, supported by what is an understanding funnel.
Why should public relations pursue this?
A two minute search of “How much should you spend on content marketing?” proves the case - try it.
You will see figures for anything between 25-40% of marketing spend should be attributed to content marketing. Stories should drive content and this is where PR fits in. If we can infiltrate this, it has the potential to be very worthwhile for PR people and the organisations they support.
And if we don’t - then our cheese won’t only be moved, it will be eaten by others and we will remain media relations people. For me that just doesn’t feel right - like being given a new 21-speed bike for Christmas and only being able to use the first three gears - where’s the fun in that?