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3 Ways To Use PR To Win Media Attention for Your Content

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3 Ways To Use PR To Win Media Attention for Your Content

Your great content deserves a publicist.

A public relations strategy built around your content helps both PR and marketing teams meet their goals (which should, in turn, support business goals). It gives your PR colleagues a reason to talk about your brand in the media. It expands your content’s reach to new audiences through earned media coverage. And it increases opportunities to earn backlinks from authoritative sites, which could help your SEO rankings.

A PR strategy for your content should be an easy internal sell – it uses existing resources to obtain free distribution for the content you’re already creating. You can’t get more budget-friendly than that.

A #PR strategy for your #ContentMarketing means free distribution for work you’ve already done. You can’t get more budget-friendly than that, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

I asked three “content publicists” how they spot and pursue opportunities to pitch content to media outlets.

Choose the right media outlets

Vanmark, a manufacturer of produce and potato processing equipment, was making a video with its client Downey Potato Chips when their PR rep – Michelle Garrett of Garrett Public Relations – saw an opportunity.

Michelle wrote a story based on the video for Vanmark’s blog, then pitched it to industry publications she knew accepted content originally published on the provider’s site.

The article, Downey’s Potato Chips Poised for Growth with Upgraded Vanmark Equipment, appeared on the manufacturer’s site and ran in Food Industry Executive, Snack and Bakery, and Potato Pro.

“The publications really liked the story and the visuals. That made it an easy piece for them to publish. There have been no follow-up questions or anything,” Michelle reports.

TIP: Include numbers in your content. Journalists appreciate data showing the solution helped and how more than they do sentences just saying it does.

Michelle, co-host of #PRLunchHour on Twitter Spaces, makes it sound easy. It isn’t. The secret, she says, is to know your audience – in this case, the media outlets whose readers, viewers, or listeners are similar to your desired audience.

In your research, identify both topical media and the parameters around their content. For example, do they publish content from third parties, or does all their content have staff bylines? If it’s the latter, don’t expect them to be interested in accepting the content you provide.

Work with your PR team to educate executives and team members so they understand that not every publication will publish the content you provide.

“We understood this story was not Wall Street Journal material, but that’s OK because the client knows where its prospects and customers spend time,” Michelle explains. “I always try to get clients to focus on that first before we do any media outreach. Sometimes they think it’s the WSJ, but really, it’s industry publications.”

When pitching your #Content, focus on media your prospects and customers read, says @PRisUs via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Streamline the PR content process

Roy Sarkar, principal at Roy Writes Content, uses a content-based PR strategy for his client Crank Software. The strategy is based on two primary goals – brand/product awareness and backlinks from sites with high domain authorities.

“I pitch several sites with similar topics, then customize the copy for submission,” Roy says. He’s hit on a way to streamline that process to save time.

First, Roy writes a base article with five to seven sections (delineated by H2 subheads). Then, he customizes the submissions by choosing three sections from the base article to create one appropriate for each outlet.

Following that process, he got a story published on Embedded: How to Build a Better UX Experience for IoT Devices published on Embedded.

TIP: A pitch is a brief overview designed to let the media outlet know what the article will cover and how it would benefit their reader. Don’t craft pitches that are more than a few paragraphs. Even better, make a bulleted list for easy reading.

Like Michelle, Roy says success comes from researching the outlets, finding the right editor or journalist to contact, and explaining why the article is related to the content they already post.

He sometimes includes a link to a story in the publication he’s pitching in the articles he pitches. This approach demonstrates he’s familiar with the outlet and can help its internal-linking strategy.

Find the right editor or journalist, then explain how the #Content you’re pitching relates to what they already publish, says @readroy via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Repurpose existing content for third-party media

Christoph Trappe, content director at Voxpopme, bases his content PR strategy on repurposing content from the company’s weekly market research podcast, The Reel Talk: The Customers Insight Show.

That’s how Quirk’s Media ended up publishing this article on cross-functional collaboration under Voxpopme co-founder Dave Carruthers’ byline.

“We have all these podcast interviews, and we wrote an article based on all the things people have said,” Christoph explains.

Voxpopme pitched several article ideas based on its podcast topics to Quirk’s Media, which selected one. The Voxpopme team then put together the content.

Christoph says he doesn’t see the outreach as pitching. “I try not to be obnoxious and ‘pitch’ content when I have a good story that I think might be of interest,” he says. “When I email people, I just say, ‘Hey, I thought this is interesting. Do you think it is?’”

He sends those emails judiciously so as not to irritate the media outlet and cause them to ignore future content outreach. For example, after his recent pitch to Quirk’s Media, Christoph won’t pitch them again until late this year or even next.

Offer #Content to media outlets judiciously so they won’t ignore your future outreach, says @ctrappe via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Get more attention for your content

A successful PR strategy for your content involves several things. Plan ahead – what content is under creation that could work for media, too. What media cover those topics for an audience that you want to reach?

Then, be selective in your content pitches. Pick media outlets that already publish articles or videos from third-party sources. Ensure the content you want the target media outlets to accept is relevant and told in an interesting (and not promotional) way.

Once you get your content published on a third-party site, promote it. But don’t just mention your company. Instead, note your involvement and share a key point or excerpt while tagging the outlet. They’ll likely appreciate the additional promotion.

Finally, keep track of your content PR wins – and the impact on your brand (i.e., traffic from the articles, overall increased views). After all, that’s what any good publicist would do.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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Before Deciding Where Your Content Team Reports, Pay Attention to This

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Before Deciding Where Your Content Team Reports, Pay Attention to This

When a brand creates a new content marketing or content strategy team, they often ask, “What function or department should the content team report to?”

My answer? “Yes!”

Now, I’m not trying to be a smart aleck. (Well, I am a little bit, do you even know me?) But seriously, my yes comes from years of helping implement content teams in dozens of businesses. My affirmative response indicates the most important thing isn’t to whom content reports; it’s that content teams report to the business.

When it reports into a function, such as brand, marketing, sales enablement, demand gen, PR/comms, or even (yes, really in one case) finance, the business acknowledges content marketing is a real thing with real responsibilities, power, and capabilities to affect business outcomes.

“What outcomes?” you might ask.

Well, that depends on where content marketing reports.

Now you have the real conundrum.

You can’t figure out where content marketing and content strategy should report without knowing the expected business outcomes, and you can’t know the business outcomes until you know where they’re reporting.

The most important thing isn’t to whom #content reports; it’s that content teams report to the business, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

It’s tricky.

Content’s pervasiveness creates the challenge

Content as a strategic function in business affects almost everything. That pervasiveness means nearly any function in the business could “own” content as a strategy.

For example, we recently worked with a company about a year into its enterprise-wide digital transformation strategy. They have a content team, and we were to help them assemble a governance and operational approach for their website content.

When we determined the right operational processes, we got into trouble. A content team leader asked, “What if someone proposed a new AI chatbot as part of this digital transformation for the website? Is it a content project with a technology component or a technology project with a content component?”

The question isn’t semantics. Instead, the answer determines the process for development, the team owning implementation, and the measurement by which it’s deemed successful.

Knowing where a #content project is assigned determines its development process, implementation owner, and success metric, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

It’s not just a technology challenge, either. The company also wanted to create new brand content guidelines for the website. Is that a content team project informed by the brand team or a brand project in consultation with the content team?

Given content’s pervasiveness, you can argue it is part of any meaningful communications initiative the business takes on. But sales’ needs are different from marketing’s, and HR’s requirements are different from the demand-gen team’s. However, to achieve consistency in content and communication, it doesn’t make sense to let each function determine its content strategy.

To achieve the balance between an enterprise-wide content strategy and the unique needs of every function in the business, the leaders and practitioners must decide to whom content reports. Again, the agreement is important, not the where or what of the agreement.

3 key attributes to identify in the decision-making process

As you and the leadership ponder how to balance the enterprise content strategy and where it should sit, consider these three key attributes that play an essential role in success.

1. Develop a content operations backbone

I don’t care if you have two people and one blog and a website or a team of 50 who operate on 35 content platforms across multiple channels. A content operations infrastructure creates consistent success across your digital content experiences. Content operations is an enterprise-recognized set of integrated and shared systems (meaning technologies), standards, guidelines, playbooks, and processes to ensure reliable, consistent, scalable, and measurable content across the business.

Content operations acts as the backbone – the foundation – to ensure the content is created, managed, activated, and measured the same way across whatever audience and whichever channel the brand presents to.

2. Connect with the audience across platforms

You can no longer expect to create one optimal experience that makes up for a bunch of sub-optimal ones.No matter your size, it’s not good enough to have your blog subscribers separate from your marketing automation database and all that separated from your CRM system. This goes for all of your audiences – from new employees to external parties such as analysts, journalists, partners, vendors, etc.

In this approach, the goal is to engage, build, and develop relationships with audiences. Thus, connecting audience behavior with insights on how to communicate better is not a siloed functional need; it is an enterprise need.

3. Build an accountability framework

This attribute in one word? Standards (and a team to keep them.) In a truly fascinating way, one of the earliest activities in building a content strategy makes the biggest impact on larger businesses: Come to terms with what words around content strategy and marketing mean. What is a campaign? What is the difference between a campaign and an initiative? What is an e-book? What is an article vs. a blog post? How long should a white paper take to write? Most businesses assume these things or create meanings based on contextual needs.

At a recent client, one group expected the content team to produce white papers within a week of the request. Another group expected them to be delivered in six weeks at double the length that the other group thought.

An accountability framework – and its ongoing evolution – presents clear ownership and coordination of content standards (roles, responsibilities, processes, types) across the enterprise. This model should not detail the definitions and standards but identify how they will enforce them.

Start your content decisions by deciding together

Where should you begin?

Well, just like in the beginning, my answer is yes. Independent of where you start, the critical point happens in the deciding of the elements. To be clear, these are institutional decisions, not simply “what you think.” In other words, it doesn’t matter what you believe the definitions, roles, or processes should be if the other parts of the organization don’t know, believe, or care.

A great first step is to create that accountability framework and make people care about its existence. At first, it might create a language of content that everybody in your business understands. When someone says, “I’d like to do a campaign,” or, “I think we should write a white paper,” everyone understands what that means and what it takes to do it. Then, the benefits of an accountability framework will start to become clear.

It makes the case for a team assigned to lead this consistency easier. And that enables the team to connect those experiences and audiences in a way that makes sense for everyone.

In the end, you have found determining the where, how, and what of a content strategy implementation isn’t the most important. The act of deciding is.

It’s a strange combination. In isolation, the reason for deciding seems straightforward. So why wouldn’t anybody want a clear definition of what a campaign is or a single source of the truth when it comes to the tone of your content?

But stacked together, those decisions feel like they are bigger than the content team and really should involve the entire enterprise. (Spoiler alert: They do.)

If you want any desired consequence, you had better decide on all the things that would help create it.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Get Robert’s take on content marketing industry news in just five minutes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

Watch previous episodes or read the lightly edited transcripts.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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