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How to Use Content Marketing for Public Relations Success

By Casey NewmanMay 16, 2016

PRQuickWins.jpgLook around. Is your mobile device within arm’s reach? If you’re like most Americans, the answer is probably yes. In fact, whether you realize it or not, you probably treat that mobile device as a body appendage, feeling naked or “off” if it’s not around.  

In today’s world of instant notifications, news updates and texts, it’s not unusual to have a completely digital relationship with someone. And if you think about it, your brand probably has purely digital relationships with your customers or prospects.

Digital relationships aren’t necessarily a bad thing; they serve a valuable purpose by keeping your audience engaged. But sometimes to get the most out of your content, you have to go back to the beginning—the personal relationship. And that’s where public relations content can help.

The ‘Relations’ Part of Public Relations

Unfortunately, the instant gratification we’ve become accustomed to doesn’t work when implementing a PR effort. Like its name suggests, public relations is about forming relationships with your audience and the media you want covering your brand. And for PR to work, forming relationships takes time.

I can hear you thinking, “But I need coverage now. I don’t have time to build relationships.” I get it. You need to boost your traffic, sales and form submissions. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can use the content you already have to start building relationships and get PR success. Here’s how.

Use Your Great Resources

You know relevant, educational content is key to a successful content marketing and public relations strategy. Whether you have a resources page chock-full of great content, a few resources or just some expert sources, you can use these to get a PR relationship off the ground.

Crystal Richard, director of PR at Onboardly, told this reporter her best pitching tip:  

“Whenever I identify a new journalist I’d like to pitch, I always send them a short email to introduce myself and what we do at Onboardly first. I’ll ask if it’s cool if I send over a few high-level bullet points on what our clients are working on that may fit their beat.

"This short but warm intro is a great way to gauge their interest before I later send the pitch and has resulted in some great relationships with the media.”

Another option similar to this is to introduce yourself in an email, explain what your company does, but instead of asking if you can send over some bullet points on relevant client work, share some resources or expert sources the journalist may find helpful.

If you’re going to share a resource or two, though, make sure you don’t send the journalist to a landing page—you don’t want to make them take extra steps to get what they need (and your marketing team probably won’t consider a journalist a valuable lead). If you can, send them the direct link to a resource.

Take Advantage of Data

Does your company have access to any kind of exclusive data? This can include:

  • Trends you’re seeing in the industry, whether they’re from the buying habits of your customers or technology trends
  • Any original research you’ve done (like a survey), or research you’ve done in collaboration with another organization.

Contently reaped the benefits of producing original research.

“... Original research also leads to another wonderful benefit—the press loves covering it, and we received significant coverage of the study from the publications our ideal customers read. As press covers the study, additional outlets pick it up, creating a halo effect that allows the PR team to offer valuable information to reporters that will take your research more seriously,” wrote Contently’s communications manager.

Include Influencers

While not your traditional media, influencers in your brand’s space can provide you with an additional avenue for coverage. To find influencers, the Content Marketing Institute recommends expanding your reach outside your niche.

For example, if your niche is medical devices, research publications or influencers who write about those devices, and professionals who use the devices, the patients who would benefit from those devices, and anyone who follows technology advancements in the medical space. Once you do that, make a list of influencers you’d like to target (and remember, engagement levels are more important than follower counts here).

Now, you can do a couple of things with this targeted list of influencers. You could create some seed content to encourage those influencers to share. Eye-Fi’s content marketing created an infographic of the most socially influential photographers:

prcontentinfluencers.png

Here’s what made it a success:

“We didn’t have an already-existing relationship with these most influential photographers, so the first piece of content had to stand out from the pack. We did this by:

  • Designing shareable content that directly benefited the influencers. Photographers want publicity because it helps them get more business. Our Top 30 list shone a light on their services and skills.
  • Making the request easy. We did not ask them to review a product or endorse our brand. We simply gave them a free publicity tool.

"Good seed content possesses those two defining characteristics—benefit (something the influencer wants) and ease (something that doesn’t take a lot of the influencer’s time).”

Featuring influencers in seed content is a great way to get exposure and begin a relationship. Another useful tactic is simply reaching out to industry influencers and asking for their thoughts on a piece of content you’re working on.

“Getting influencers involved boosts the credibility and ‘pitchability’ of content,” writes Emily McGowan at Relevance. “If your team creates great content and develops great relationships, these well-connected experts may help amplify your piece.

“It’s the ultimate win-win-win situation: Your content is more informed and of a higher quality (making it more shareable), influencers get to exercise their thought leadership, and readers or users get the best experience possible.”

While it may be tempting to start pitching an idea or product to get quick coverage, taking the time to develop relationships with the media and influencers in your space can have long-term benefits that go well beyond a story. Reach out, introduce yourself and share some information that might be helpful. You never know where that relationship could lead.

Check Out Essential Content Marketing KPI - Interactive Checklist

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Casey Newman
The Author

Casey Newman

A love for writing and her natural curiosity ultimately led Casey to careers in journalism and public relations. Today Casey puts her passion for content to work telling your brand’s story and helping you create the perfect strategy.
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