How can you use
content PR strategies to shape opinion about your association and move people
to act on membership and sponsorship decisions?
probably seen this phrase bouncing around the blogosphere recently, and no
wonder—it’s an emerging PR trend for this year.But what is content PR?
Over the last
couple years, we’ve seen a significant change in marketing tactics and the
subsequent rise of inbound marketing.Driven by generating interest rather
than causing interruption, inbound marketing tactics, including content
marketing, draw the audience to the brand, rather than pushing messaging out
and hoping that someone pays attention. Doing this requires a brand to be in
tune with its audience, know what they’re talking about (and where the talking
is occurring), and understand how to create content that speaks to the
What is Content
Content PR is the
extension of content marketing principles applied to PR.The core content
marketing principles include:
- Understanding audience interests;
- Creation of relevant and
compelling content; and
- Deployment of that content in
various formats and across different channels to reach audiences where
New Strategy and Tactics
content PR requires some shifts in the traditional PR mindset and tactics,
1. From episodic campaigns to ongoing presence. It
can be tough to get away from the traditional idea of an association
communications campaign around a membership drive or annual conference.But
as we all know, audience interest isn’t dictated by campaigns.While
campaigns do a great job of building interest, opportunities are lost when association
brands don’t serve the organically occurring interest that develops when a
person is researching organizations related to a specific industry or vendors for
a project at work.Content PR is crucial to developing a plugged-in brand
presence that understands (and delivers) the information your constituents are
seeking, as well as what they need to make related decisions.
2. Reflecting the audience point of view in messaging. There’s still a place for your association’s news announcements, but savvy organizations
are changing their messaging to reflect the member’s (or industry’s) point of
view.Rather than simply issuing a message from the ivory tower to the
masses, associations are communicating in the context of their members and
other constituents, building audience values into their messaging.Instead
of a simple text press release, the content might include an array of elements
such as an infographic, slides, or a short video with an expert.
3. Measuring pull, not push.
While we’ve been talking about "push vs. pull” communications for years now,
fully embracing a "pull” mentality is crucial for the successful practice and
measuring of content PR. How do you measure pull?While metrics will vary
for each organization, here are some ideas:
rank and inbound search terms used to find your association’s content.A
dive into website analytics is tremendously revealing.A look at the
search terms people used to find your website shows pretty clearly the terms
for which your content ranks in search engines and the terms your audience is using
to get to your website.
- Traffic to
specific content and the resulting activity.
Measuring the visits to specific pages is one obvious measure.But
take it a step further and look at what happens next.Are people
sharing your association’s content on social networks?Are they
clicking on the links embedded in the content and taking the next step? Looking
deeper into page traffic will reveal whether or not your audience is
truly engaging with your message.
4. Collaboration. More
than ever, integration with your association’s marketing and communications is
crucial if content PR is going to work.Key challenges that collaboration
will address include developing a consistent and coherent experience for your
audiences.It’s also important to realize that one piece of content can
trigger a variety of outcomes, and associations need to have their ducks in a
row to capture all of the potential results.
example,in addition to generating interest among media and
bloggers,the direct connection the audience has with your association’s content
brings with it the opportunity to move membership or sponsorship/advertising prospects
ahead in the decision-making process. PR and marketing should collaborate to
ensure the content is accurately mapped to the customer-decision process and
appropriate next steps are offered to readers. Designed to further inform—and
qualify—your association’s prospects, next steps can include access to more
specific information (such as case studies), tips for doing something better,
and access to staff.
A hallmark of
content marketing is creating content that can ultimately represent the association’s
(and its industry’s) voice within the timelines of an individual’s search for information.Content
PR shapes opinion contextually.When coordinated with your association’s communications
and marketing efforts, content PR shapes opinion, generates lasting visibility,
and delivers measurable, top-line business results.
Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice
president of social media.