How to Leverage Content Marketing for PR

Developing a consistent and useful content campaign is time-consuming, but it’s a non-negotiable for today’s marketers that want to amp up search results and engage potential customers with thoughtful blogs, webinars and whitepapers.

To make the most of this hard work, marketers can “double-dip” by leveraging the content development process for another element of the marketing mix: PR. 

Overlapping Goals

Public relations and content marketing have a number of goals in common. From building brand awareness to demonstrating thought leadership, and driving leads with inside stories, both practices are about telling stories to a targeted audience.

While the owner of the channel differs — with content marketing you own it; with public relations you don’t — the same types of stories often apply as long as you make sure to strip out the self-promotion.

If you already have a kick-A content marketing campaign up and running, here are some tips to work it for PR.

Before you publish that blog post, ask yourself: 

Would a media publication consider running this?

If you’re writing deep articles that share post mortems, tips, customer case studies, and inside news from your company, it’s likely these topics would pique the interest of trade and business publications. Because news websites (like brands) need to create an insane amount of content to keep readers engaged, you can help make editors’ lives easier by offering thoughtful pieces on relevant topics. It’s a win-win: they don’t have to use their own resources on the content, and they also get an industry expert’s opinion on a subject readers care about.

Pro tips for pitching contributed articles:

  • Do your research: Make sure your idea fits in with the publication’s scope of articles but hasn’t been covered before. Some places want articles with practical tips, while others want deep dives into industry trends. Pay attention to these details before you approach an editor. If the general topic has been discussed, think about what new perspective your executives could add to the conversation. If they disagree with what’s already been said, that’s even more interesting.

  • Pitch an abstract first: If you go to editors with a full draft, they might be able to sign off quickly, but it also looks like you’re shopping around something you’ve already written without considering how it will fit into their publication. First, pitch your idea and ask for feedback. If they accept, tweak as directed. If they reject, ask them what would make it more interesting. Pitching contributed content should be a collaborative process, mirroring the way a journalist would approach an editor about a story idea.

  • Don’t be promotional: Your blog will never get accepted if it’s about how awesome your company is and why everyone in a certain predicament needs a tool that is eerily similar to your product. Those types of articles should stay on your own blog. Editors are looking for things that other business leaders and people in sister industries will find useful. They don’t want an ad. For example, pitching a story that explains a complex topic (example: Skytree’s contributed article on understanding Machine Learning), rather than advocating your company’s approach to an industry, will get more traction.

Could this be a story pitch?

When you’re brainstorming a hearty content calendar, you’ll probably (hopefully) come up with a few really awesome ideas that you’d plan to feature for a while on your blog. Great job! But wait! Might a journalist want to write this story first?

If you’ve convinced one of your biggest customers to discuss in detail how your product solved a business challenge or if you’ve found a user who’s been intensely (positively) impacted by your product, you should consider pitching their stories to a journalist first. Particularly if you are a tech vendor, reporters would much rather talk to your customers about how your product actually worked, than have you tell them why it’s the best in the category.

If your CEO wants to blog about why you pivoted, how a breaking news event will affect your industry, or a trend overseas no one is here paying attention to, try pitching a journalist who covers your industry on the angle first.

More eyeballs on your ideas

While these contributed articles and news stories would be awesome on your blog, it’s likely that a media publication will have more reach than your own website. You’ll get more eyeballs for that idea you came up with, and you’ll have better links to your company’s website to boost your pagerank. Most publications will want the story for at least a day exclusively, and after that, you can always create an introduction and link to the original article as a blog post.

Let’s be real — I should have pitched this before I published it, but now you know better!

By incorporating a PR mindset into your content creation, you’ll find a discover host of ideas that could live beyond your own website. Good stories are good stories after all, so maybe your favorite industry website might want to tell it too.

For more tips on how to get journalists’ attention, check out Blair’s post on pitchcraft, and hit me up in the comments or @DianaHSmith to discuss what publications would be a great fit for your content marketing ideas.

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