PR Will Own Content Creation, But Needs To Overcome Challenges

Here at The Future Buzz we have long since promoted the notion that every company is a media company. We’ve also asserted that in such a world, PR should lead.

Personally it’s one of the reasons I left the boutique digital agency to join LEWIS PR, I believe in this and want to see it executed at scale

So it was good to see a conversation started this week by Todd Defren from SHIFT on why PR will own content reacting to an earlier post by Adam Cohen from Fleishman Hillard.

Tier-1 PR teams possess the executive perspective on editorial which is the natural skill set to lead content. They don’t fall prey to many of the content marketing challenges, for example, they consistently are able to answer the all important “so what?” test of web content. After all they are already directly interfacing with media every day who have to fulfill this to their audiences. Too cutthroat these days for any media that want to survive to be boring.

But while PR may have strategy, marketing departments for the most part are better at analytics, process and perhaps most importantly execution and consistency (not to mention technical chops). I still think PR is best poised to lead strategy and direct the organic content machine of an organization, but marketing and PR need each other and have to work together to win.

However, no matter who is leading I understand completely: it’s not easy for any communications specialization to own content production and while I may think one is best poised to lead, certainly we’ll see this vary across organizations.

With that said everyone needs to overcome the following challenges we’re still seeing:

Stop thinking in terms of “the big idea”

Community building happens inch by inch. Sure, you should throw in some buzz for good measure, but without the stuff in between none of it matters. Show up. No excuses: if you can’t do this, you fail as a modern communications professional.

Go through the process yourself

There is no chance anyone is just going to just get lucky at web publishing and randomly build a organic opt-in audience. You really have to go through the process yourself from start to finish. I think you can partner here, but if you haven’t completed this successfully somewhere you are in no way, shape or form positioned to become a media company. Experience counts and having been successful with micro content is not enough. CMOs listen up: hire agencies and team members who have done this before. They exist, find them. Hire away from media if you have to.

Embrace having personality

If you hope to create a following on the web behind content you will have to polarize audiences somehow. Anything less means blanding away ideas to the point they’re basically unreadable. This is difficult and counter to what most organizations are able to do from a self-publishing standpoint.

Sure they pitch stories that have bite or interest, but it’s “safer” to let it come from a reporter. If you want to self-publish, you have to have some sort of voice. Have opinions and take sidesMake enemies. Obscurity is a far greater threat to companies than any perceived repercussions from being interesting.

Become data-driven

Publishing content on the web goes well beyond activating pull PR. If you follow an effective content strategy, optimize your templates and call people to action you can impact outcomes such as leads generated or sales. But this can only happen if you’re data-driven, establish conversion goals from the beginning and iterate and refine based on metrics.

Most start publishing without even establishing benchmarks which is sad, because without data you’re flying blind. But with this data you’re in the most powerful seat of all: the ability to get immediate feedback from your ideas and refine them bit by bit. Also learn how KPIs from self-publishing ventures such as blogging impacts your commercial web page KPIs (such as passing link equity and referring traffic).

The time to act on this is now…

The real question is, what PR teams are willing to destroy any remaining artificial barriers and go direct to media / customers in an open format?

It’s no doubt work, and still a new approach for many. But it’s the future of effective and scalable PR, evolving it from something which (previously) meant borrowing attention from others to building equity and your own high-value channel of distribution to the world.

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