When PR and Content Marketing sing in perfect harmony

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IN an era where everyone is a media creator and everybody thinks they are storytellers, one can easily think barriers to reach consumers are much, much lower these days. In fact, not a few have declared with such gusto and a lot of whim that maybe  PR professionals are fast becoming irrelevant, even obsolete.

Without sounding  like  a “hit-the-nerve” apologist for the PR profession (come to think of it, I am an apologist to the core), I dare say we as PR professionals are not becoming passé. Far from it. In fact, there is more demand for us and the creative genius we offer, including our relationships with anything that matters (#PRmatters)—people, channels, journalists, amplifiers and the so-called influencers (once called KOLs—if you don’t know it, look it up!)

However, the PR profession today is facing major shifts. While PR still connects brands and people with gatekeepers, it uses different approaches  and platforms to adapt. We were growth hackers then; we continue to be growth hackers now in the new economy of multichannel, simultaneous in-your-face-right-now, vertigo-inducing and go-the-extra-mile profession.

With increasing demand for ROI (return on investment) and meet-the-business-objective demands from CEOs, CFOs and COOs, and every imaginable “Cs” in the C-Suite, PR professionals have to work a whole lot harder.

Nowadays, we need a bigger, broader contact list, as breaking a news story is no longer just the prerogative  and power of journalists.  News breaks first, more often than not,  online.  Hence,  PR pros need to build connections with new media personalities, on top of maintaining relationships with legacy press dossiers.

And since PR professionals are in the business of managing perception, trust, reputation and even brand love, getting attention is no longer an outcome—it has simply become an output: the first step toward achieving the goal of not just affection, but conversion.

And in this environment, although it has been used as a potent tool to effect and affect love and conversion, content is key. PR professionals are going back to one of its original roles—the storyteller—on top of its primordial role of story-peddling and placement.    

It’s not surprising, therefore, that PR and content marketing in today’s PRspeak sit not on opposing sides, but part of a continuum—a lovefest of partners singing in perfect harmony.

The product of combining PR strategies and content marketing techniques is an excellent brand visibility. Hence, when you have both in your arsenal, you create brand stories that are in front of the right consumers.

Standing out from the clutter these days—what with the absurd number of content creators from professionals, passionate and some “just want to be online sensation” wannabee,  is even more difficult. Thus, the role of PR professionals becomes more pronounced. We become custodians of content—the storyteller that tells the story to the right recipients.

When we combine the two together, we amplify content. Journalists these days are no longer interested in chest-beating “praise” releases. They look for content that really engages their readers/listeners/viewers—stories that provide more meaning and depth to the conversations.

I will never forget one business editor who complained a lot about press releases on tree planting. This editor advises PR practitioners who send this type of press release—“Send me something beyond the tree-planting activity—what’s the story behind this; the rationale, the human face, the struggle, the triumphs and the successes. Go beyond the activity and give me meanings.”

The advice is very sound. By providing depth to our stories, our brand message consistency is upheld and observed. We all need to maximize and reinforce our value proposition, brand identity and brand personality through effective telling and retelling of our stories in multiple platforms.

Our agency PAGEONE Group has doggedly followed all these basic tenets and have combined both PR and content marketing in the way we manage campaigns for our clients. We consistently create and recreate our clients’ stories in platforms and channels that have become playgrounds of their consumers and stakeholders. Thus, in the process,  we do not only achieve the corporate, reputational and business objectives of the clients, but also reap awards as a result of our brand stewardship.

In the recent 54th Anvil Awards of the Public Relations Society of the Philippines, we did not just win our third Agency of the Year Award, but also brought home our third Grand Anvil Award and our third Platinum Award.  Thanks to the men and women of the agency who understood the value of the perfect marriage of PR and content marketing.

The Energy Development Corp. won the Platinum Award—the best of the best PR tools for the year, for using video blogs as a PR tool to tell its brand story. With the natural beauty of the Negros Islands as the backdrop, EDC told its story of powering infinite possibilities—i.e., proving clean and renewable energy to  power consumers.

The STI-Education Services Group won the most coveted Grand Anvil Award for its “Computer Lab on Wheels.” The STI-ESG told its brand story and promoted its brand personality through mobile schools that provide ICT education in both urban and rural communities across the country  where ICT literacy is a major challenge.

And while it only brought home a silver trophy, the campaign of our client URC-Flour and Pasta Division is also a perfect showcase of how brands can creatively tell its story while achieving its reputational and business objectives, as well.

To promote its brand of providing quality flour products and its drive as a responsible corporate citizen, URC-Flour and Pasta Division developed a multimedia toolkit for the use of Grade 11 and Grade 12 students studying bread and pasta production. Given the initial success, URC-Flour and Pasta Division executives vowed to  expand this project and campaign to further enhance the learning capabilities of senior high-school students and “help arm them for success in the exciting and lucrative food and hospitality industries.”

Indeed, there is a whole suite of examples that I can mention to illustrate that the way forward for PR professionals is through strategic combination of PR and content marketing to bring results that do not just satisfy corporate objectives, but fulfill societal goals, as well (#PRisLife).

PR Matters is a roundtable column by members of the local chapter of the United Kingdom-based International Public Relations Association (Ipra), the  premier organization for PR professionals around the world. Ron F. Jabal, APR is the CEO of PAGEONE Group and former president of the Public Relations Society of the Philippines.

We are devoting a special column each month to answer our readers’ questions about public relations.  Please send your questions or comments to [email protected]