I was having coffee with a friend of mine the other day, a local communications expert and ex-professor at Texas State University. We were talking about her new gig at PR Newswire, and Frankly I was a little skeptical. I honestly thought PR was dead, especially now that content marketing allows us all to be media companies.
But my friend, Dara Quackenbush, quickly set me straight. “PR is very important to your content marketing efforts,” she said.
Our conversation over a soy vanilla latte was fascinating, and got me thinking about how PR can help us distribute our content.
Content’s Distribution Problem
In his controversial blog post Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy, Mark Schaefer, said:
“Of course the volume of free content is exploding at a ridiculous rate…However, our ability to consume that content (demand) is finite.”
In other words, Schaefer says, the intersection of finite content consumption and rising content availability creates Content Shock.
Granted, a majority of that over-abundance of content is low quality “me-too” content created by SEO practitioners hoping to gain a little bit of Google juice for their clients’ websites.
But there are also pages and pages of high quality content out there drowning in this sea of undifferentiated pabulum, undiscovered and languishing in obscurity.
It seems like good content has a distribution problem.
Of course everybody tells you to “use social media” to distribute your content, write guest posts and establish relationships with influencers. But this too is contributing to content shock, since everybody is reading the same advice.
So how should we promote our content and escape the gravitational pull of content shock?
I think we all need to rediscover PR.
3 Ways PR Can Boost Your Content Marketing
As my conversation with Quackenbush continued I realized how powerful PR can actually be to promote your content and get it read by the right people, so I decided to put together this quick post to share how to use PR to get our content out there.
1. Promote Your Shiny Object
Marketer Amanda McGuckin Hager uses a unique term to describe the kind of content marketers use to convert suspects into prospects: shiny objects.
What is a shiny object? It’s a piece of content, such as an industry report, white paper, eBook or any piece of premium content (Brian Clark calls it cornerstone content) that attracts people to your website and allows you to capture their name and email address in your permission marketing system.
McGuckin Hager did this spectacularly well at Infochimps. She conducted a survey of database administrators in cooperation with an industry association, published the survey results in a report on big data, and hired a PR firm to make a splash in the media about the report, attracting thousands of new visitors to the Infochimps website and increasing their house database by 94%.
2. Send Out a Content Release
Quackenbush told me companies such as PR Newswire and others are going beyond the traditional press release and the boring old news story structure so that now you can do a content release.
She said while you need to keep the release newsworthy, and include new information such as industry stats or results from a study you conducted, after filling the essential newsworthy check-boxes, your release can be written in a more accessible, friendly blog post style, bringing people back to your own blog to read more informative posts.
3. Pitch Story Ideas to Media
Paul Roetzer, in a recent post for the Content Marketing Institute blog, said it’s a good idea to know what the editorial calendar is for publications in your industry, and pitch media representatives on relevant content you might have that coincides with the theme of the month.
For example, if you’re pitching to CIO magazine and in three months their theme will be “security in the cloud,” you could pitch your eBook about cloud-based security. I’m sure CIO.com would eat that up.
PR is Changing – You Should Change Your View of PR
THe PR industry, long a bastion of traditional thinking, has finally come around to the modern realities of content marketing. In fact, for certain B2B audiences I would argue it’s even more effective for content distribution than social media.
If you’ve abandoned the press release, your PR firm, and the media in general, it’s probably time to take another look.