So, what’s the difference between PR and content marketing? Which one’s better?
Blog - Mar 21, 2019
We live in the world of everyday digital transformation. There is virtually no area of human action that is not, while I’m writing and you’re reading this, being digitally transformed in various fashions, and the situation also applies to public relations. PR, as a profession and as an industry, is not immune to these changes and the only question is whether it develops or its new rivals emerge.
Perhaps content marketing is only the beginning of public relations “digitalization”? Because, as the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) defines, public relations tend to evolve and change their roles while following technological advancement.
Although many will agree that content marketing and PR are similar in nature, some will, however, claim that one is only a “different package” of the other (content as a different package for PR), while others will argue that the roots or the background of content marketing originate from the digital world, namely as the answer to search engine optimization (SEO rules).
Consequently, a question about the difference between content and PR arises. For me, as someone who’s been in public relations and traditional marketing for over a decade, dealing with content is a true field trip to the digital world and this new code of conduct it brings. And it’s really exciting and different from PR, and here is how.
Direct vs. indirect approach
Both public relations and content marketing bring valuable and useful information to the public. However, while PR relies on an indirect approach to the audience, through the media, creating an appealing content first for the media and thus for the target group, content marketing builds direct relations with its audience.
In PR, we will much more rely on media relations and identification of an adequate journalist and media outlet that will be willing to tell a story about our organisation or simply publicise our text prepared in advance. Sometimes it works as pure advertising, where we pay a media outlet to help us achieve a goal of raising public awareness regarding a specific topic.
In content marketing, on the other hand, we will invest even more efforts, by creating content, video, infographics appealing to the audience enough to wish to share it with others. Through content, we focus on our clients, customers, providing them with useful information they need, and all that through our media channel – our web page, social media profile, YouTube channel, newsletter, thus creating long-term relations with them. Once they visit our website, they get “hooked”.
We measure PR and content marketing differently
In traditional PR, we measure success by a number of media reports, guest appearances, mentioning (good old press clipping) or impressions created by our text. In content marketing, success of campaign is measured by a total number of visits to a page, namely our post, number of shares, mentioning, comments and leads, actual contacts we have achieved.
And although press releases may achieve quite a high share on the web and influence the quality of web search for a client, the result will be much better if a text is approached using content marketing skills. Key words, links “embedded” in a text and appealing content, optimized for search engines, will have a more significant impact on the web page traffic. It is easy to measure the impact of content on a web page, using various metrics, such as time spent on a page, text, interaction on SoMe/share, comments on posts through conversions, namely tracking codes.
And yes, quoting is good, but quoting with a link is even better, while quoting with a link leading back to a web page is the best.
Content marketing vs. PR – which one is more difficult to produce?
Public relations are really not just media relations. Nor is writing a press release. Nor giving statements or follow-up. Tools and skills used by PR are complex, creativity is beyond question, but it is still safe to say that there is a certain “code of conduct” in reaching a targeted objective, raising interest of the media and, eventually, of the audience.
Nevertheless, with an enormous amount of content produced in the digital world on a daily basis, it is getting more and more difficult to be noticed. And that is where good content comes first, but it is not simple to produce. It requires plenty of creativity, commitment and skills such as knowing how to make a synopsis for a 60-second video out of seven pages of text, as well as selecting the best timing for posting. It includes good balance between different channels of communication, requires interaction with an audience, valuable and usable information or activity that will motivate others to act. Only content worth sharing is good content.