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.