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Integrating Digital Marketing & PR – Breaking Down Silos Through Content

Posted on May 20th, 2013
Written by Lee Odden
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    digital marketing PRFor a recent presentation at a corporate communications and PR conference, I polled my network of digital marketing and PR pros working client-side about the most pressing questions they’re dealing with when it comes to integrating Marketing and Public Relations.

    Since we’ve been working in the digital marketing and PR space at TopRank Marketing for well over 10 years, it was interesting to see  the diverse feedback from companies of various sizes and industries. But several themes revealed themselves that I think our readers will relate to.

    Thanks to feedback from Digital and Integrated Marketing Communications professionals like Corinne Kovalsky of Ratheon, Susan Beatty of Bremer Financial Corporation, Frank Strong of LexisNexis, Lesly Cardec from Randstad US, Sarah Skerik from PRNewswire and Pam Didner of Intel, it became clear that one of the key questions organizations are facing is the need to break down silos between marketing and PR.

    break down silos marketing public relations

    To help answer that question, I think one of the most fundamental things to realize is that we’re all in the content business.

    PR and Communications drive a substantial amount of content creation from developing messaging strategy to content for newsrooms. PR content that can be optimized, socialized and publicized include: blog posts, press releases, case studies, social media content, newsletters, contributed articles, white papers, events (online and off).  Whether it’s text, image, audio or video, most PR pros are involved in content creation on a regular basis.

    Content is the currency for building social relationships that can boost earned media.

    Digital Marketing is tasked with demand creation and developing leads, and content plays an instrumental role in those and many other marketing objectives. From content marketing strategy to websites and microsites, content is the basis for effective digital marketing. We’ve covered content marketing tactics here before, but they can include blogs, landing pages, social media content, advertising, webinars, email and all media formats from images to video to audio.

    Understanding the role that content plays in reaching both brand awareness and customer acquisition goals, the opportunities for integration between digital marketing and PR become clear pretty fast.

    Align Goals

    When you look at common Public Relations focused goals, they often include: Boosting Awareness & Exposure, Influence & Positioning, Increase Mindshare, Educate Audiences, Thought Leadership, Reputation, Growing Networks & Engagement and even Increasing Sales.

    Often these goals are achieved through a variety of efforts that leverage or result in content. Digital PR tactics can range from media relations to gain editorial coverage in publications to events to working with influencers and social networks. Announcements, publicity, promotions and buzz are all the domain for PR and communications professionals.

    Some of the metrics digital marketers are held accountable to include increasing website traffic, leads and sales. Content Marketing goals also include revenue related objectives like order volume, frequency and profitability. Efficiency is also aligned with content marketing performance as measured by shortened sales cycles, referrals bottom line ROI on marketing investment.

    Since both marketing and PR both speak “increase sales”, it make sense that PR should be involved with content marketing in its planning stages to identify what’s “really” promotable from a media relations perspective.  Building publicity and media relations activities into the content marketing planning process will help marketing extend the reach of it’s message and improve marketing performance.

    At the same time PR will have early exposure to promotable brand content to successfully achieve media coverage and network growth vs. trying to make magic happen with last minute requests: “Can you send out a press release and talk to some bloggers about our new product future? It was released this morning”. For both marketing and PR, there can be a measurable effect on sales and we all know revenue is the language everyone understands.

    Common Ground:

    An extension of aligning goals between marketing and PR is to find the win for those that you would partner with in your organization. Find out how can marketing assets be used to improve the ability for PR to gain media coverage. At the same time, dig into how PR can play a role in content marketing amplification to improve the reach and performance. Recruit volunteers to test cooperative efforts between digital marketing and PR.

    Some of the common ground opportunities for digital marketing and public relations include:

    • Messaging & Story
    • Content Planning
    • Coordinated Social and Media Relations with Amplification
    • Social Listening for Buying Signals
    • Content Placement
    • Optimizing Messaging Based on Marketing Performance Data

    Coordinating marketing and PR in content marketing efforts can find the common ground needed to execute on shared goals. That alignment of objectives can lead to the development of new ways of working together that create a win for everyone involved.

    Build a Business Case

    Goal alignment and common ground serve as a framework for building a business case. Find a low hanging fruit opportunity with motivated collaborators to show how digital marketing and PR integration can improve achievement of business goals. Then sell the results with performance metrics that execs can appreciate.

    One of the most basic examples of this kind of collaboration is a co-created thought leader ebook. We’ve created quite a few of these and they represent the integration of key maketing and PR in a way that is pretty easy to demonstrate value for both awareness and network growth as well as traffic and sales.

    Co-created content builds an incentive for participants to promote the content object. Publicity, content repurposing, targeted ads, email promotions, social promotion and optimization combine with thoughtful messaging to create an integrated marketing and PR asset that provides a tremendous amount of value for PR and marketing goals.

    In the digital marketing world, skills acquisition is as competitive as it has ever been with PR high on the list.  With more brands publishing content and even competing with publications in their industry, the need for integrated marketing and PR functions within companies is a necessity. The question is, what is your company, large or small, doing about it?

    If you would like to learn more about integrating marketing and PR, be sure sign up for the PRSA Digital Impact conference in June where I’ll be presenting “Attract, Engage and Convert: How PR Can Get Ahead With Content Marketing“.  This topic is also covered at both a strategic and tactical level in Optimize as well.

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