Content marketing has been getting a lot of attention in recent years, with companies and organizations putting more and more effort into reaching their target groups with relevant and valuable content. It’s an interesting development, but it’s easy to forget the power of traditional earned media, i.e PR. The solution is to have owned and earned media work together, and to include paid media as well when possible.
Traditional media is suffering from both a decrease in space and in influence, a process that has been going on for many years. By some content marketing has been seen as a solution to this, creating interest and action where advertising and other channels fail. But great as content marketing may be, the power of traditional media channels like print, radio and TV is still huge. We need to harness that power, and then develop and deepen the interest it creates in the channels we own.
The reason for this is that even though developments in technology has empowered the users to begin a search for information whenever they want, and in that sense become their own news providers, we don’t always act this way. Sometimes we’re actively searching for information, at other time we prefer to have it served up by media. The difference often lies in how engaged or interested we are in an issue.
In order to achieve broad distribution, and ensure that we reach those in our target audience that are less engaged or totally unaware, we need assistance from earned media. And in order to get it we have to reach journalists and editors. In other words, we have to work with PR.
The good news is that a lot of what works in content marketing works just as well when it comes to getting media interested. In an era of shrinking newsroom and stressed out reporters, relevant content, as in great stories, clearly defined challenges and solutions etc. Content showing expertise and thought leadership can be of particular interest. Experts sharing their insights is the bread and butter for a lot of media outlets.
As always when media is involved you need to make sure the content is easy to access, be available to answer questions quickly and respect deadlines. You need to understand how and when journalists are looking for stories, and what they need. Transparancy, honesty and staying away from the sales pitch are other musts when dealing with media. But you already knew that.
From a strategic perspective the idea is to understand that we should package and distribute same basic content in different ways depending on who the target audience is. And to understand which channels to use and in what context. This is one of the main reasons why companies that work strategically with their content instead of just start spreading it around will get a much better return on investment. Convergence, using a combination of owned, paid and earned media and understanding how they can strenghten each other, is a key objective when working with content marketing.