What works now is what worked before the Internet and search engines existed: content that delights and/or informs.
If you’ve been producing content for a while, you know when you’ve got something good. You also know when you’ve got crap. Still, often when you have crap, you think you have to publish it anyway, because you spent the time to create it and you “have to get something out there.”
One simple test to determine whether you’re creating great content is whether it interests you. If you were bored writing and editing it and you weren’t excited about sharing it, others will probably feel the same way. Trust your instincts; don’t produce it or publish it.
The practice of public relations is about influencing public opinion and guarding reputation. Content marketing is focused ultimately on outcomes like lead generation and sales.
In terms of the old marketing funnel describing the different stages in the buying cycle construct (awareness, consideration, preference, choice) PR is arguably more “upper funnel” because it builds awareness and reputation. Content marketing is positioned deeper within the cycle, in the realms of consideration and choice.
In consumer terms, a brand is a noun; but it’s an intangible entity, more an idea than a thing. The brand is a perception, the consumer’s image of a company (or other entity/product) that comes from experience. A brand is also a reputation, developed over time. It’s earned.
As a verb, branding has referred to the act of creating a distinctive mark. In 21st century business jargon, branding is considered the intentional manipulation and control of the public perception of an entity.
The business of branding is a business of deception. The idea of defining a brand as a key to business success is a hollow and futile endeavor. In spite of how you look or behave, public opinion will shape your brand. To focus on control of an organization’s brand is a waste of time and effort. To foster a successful brand, it would be wiser to focus on quality products, a positive work environment and exemplary service before, during and after the sale. Your brand will be shaped by that.
By skipping the media and publishing to reach audience directly, PR is missing the credibility that is earned through the media. Indeed, PR is defined by third-party validation, but the media is not the only source of credibility. Every link, tweet, like, Google +1, Stumble, bookmark – any Web connection that shares information – is a form of validation. Individually, they may not make an enormous difference, but over time the aggregate of voices definitely matter. It’s good old fashioned word of mouth marketing, done online and that answers that important question: I’m thinking about buying X, do you have any recommendations?
People don’t hate marketing, they hate interruptions. They’re obstacles that are intentionally placed between readers and the information they seek.
Content creation, finding interesting angles, telling stories – all of these are skills that are as valuable in social media as they are in public relations, they just need to be adapted slightly for the digital age.
The biggest leap is in community management. It’s not about control any more – the new role of public relations is to both facilitate and steer the discussion.
Public relations is more important, more valued and more integral to an institution’s success than ever before – from information to strategy, from press releases to reputation building and brand positioning. Public relations is more involved in brand building – in helping companies actually build their products and their brands.
Any kind of marketing or communication that is going to be effective on the outside needs to start on the inside. It needs to start with fundamental actions and behaviors inside the company. And that’s where public relations is important.
Today people need to understand how businesses work. You’ve got to be able to take that creative energy and the creative thinking that is so important to any communications effort and develop an understanding of how it can drive business.
It will always be about content creation in the public relations business. Going forward, from a communications perspective, the more talented you are in creating compelling content across the spectrum of communications modes, the more effective you’re going to be, and the more opportunity you’ll have.
I think it might actually be one of the great questions of our age, how to navigate the rise of the personal brand. Busting up the old broadcast media machine and giving everyone a voice has turned us each into our own marketing department.
It’s natural for me to think about what numbers I can rack up on Twitter, but I need to think about promoting others, and about what we can build together. I dream of a social network where the focus is on the work being produced together, rather than personal brands per se.