One of the two specialties that could change public relations is content management, according to John Bell’s blog post. Now, I’ve always been an active proponent of the content-based approach to PR and have written about it in the past too (PR 2.0? Be THE client! and How do you do PR?, among others). But, beyond piecemeal perspectives on the importance of content in the PR business, here’s a broader perspective on the way PR could approach content.
I notice most PR agencies (including us, Edelman India) using a standard PR approach that is heavily dependent on mainstream media. Now, this is a logical thing to do given how mainstream media rules, in terms of attention and reach. But, increasingly, I also see clients demanding an integrated communications plan that includes social media as an integral part of the PR exercise – instead of treating it as a separate silo.
So, hereâ€™s a possible way that would help integrate social media as part of integrated communications â€“ not just in words, but in process, operations and also articulation. This method approaches PR more as a content marketing exercise and less as a relationship exercise. In a way, relationship becomes one of the basic necessities in order to market content successfully.
The starting point now, in any PR discussion, is â€˜placing <stuff> in mediaâ€™. If PR, or communications, is a content game (as I have always believed it to be), then ideally, our starting point should be content. So, our commitment should then be in terms of creation of content.
Once the umbrella theme for the client is identified, we then work on a quarterly (or half-yearly) basis to identify content that we can create on behalf of the client – content that would be perceived to be useful or interesting to select target audiences that the client wants to reach out to.
When I say content, don’t assume it as a 5 page whitepaper. Each piece of content could simply be a 2 paragraph thought and we use a detailed content marketing plan to chart how we will utilize each monthâ€™s content.
So, that 2 paragraph piece could take the form of a tweet, a blog post, a press release, a billboard, a pitch note for an interview and so on â€“ we plot the plan in the template so the team just works on sharing content via the most appropriate channel and also tweak to content to fit each channel.
You would also notice paid media listed under this layer, including things as far from PR as outdoor media! My question is – why not? If a client has something to announce/share, looking at that content from a single source (as against seeing it from the PR angle or marketing angle) could help make better use of that piece of content. Streamlining the content at the right time and using the right tools could become easier if seen from a single, larger perspective of what that piece of content is aimed at achieving.
All this happens in the first layer, which only utilizes those channels of communication that are not owned by the client.
The 2nd layer is meant for owned media and we plot the same content as we will use in channels owned by the client.
Layer 3 talks of those activities that need to be done to support the other 2 layers â€“ this involves maintenance (and creation, where needed) of owned-media channels, mainstream media and social media monitoring reports and so on.
From a clientâ€™s point of view, they get an integrated plan that starts with content and offers a holistic content marketing plan. As for measurement, we just need to find ways to track the reach of our content across all these channels.
Now, this may be too heavy for some clients, but it would help if we educate current and prospective clients gradually to use this method. It helps in the long run that we’re not working backwards from media, but forwards…starting with what the client/brand has that is worth sharing/talking about and marketing that content to the appropriate target audiences.
I’m sure I may not be the first to cook up something like this and there may be other models similar to this already in existence. If you’re in the PR space, I’d love to know your take on this model.