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Is There Room in PR for Content Marketing?

Keith Ecker Jaffe PR Following is a guest blog post by Keith Ecker (@Keith_JaffePR) vice president of public reputation services at Jaffe PR, a public reputation agency that provides services to the legal marketplace, including law firms, legal technology vendors and legal associations.

The buzzword on every marketer’s lips this year is content marketing—and with good reason. Never before have brands been able to so easily transform themselves into de facto content creators through the use of affordable publishing and distribution tools, such as blogging platforms, Twitter and LinkedIn. Meanwhile, the definition of what constitutes a traditional media outlet continues to be flipped on its head as websites, blogs and social media sites become go-to reads for consumers and key decision-makers.

So, what does this shift in the way information is produced and consumed mean for the world of public relations? If audiences are more prone to read a Twitter feed over the New York Times, is it time for all us publicists to hang up our hats and call it a day?

While it’s no longer business as usual for the PR industry, I’d argue that this is one of the most exciting times to be a publicist. Rather than fight the inevitable changes, I recommend embracing these changes as an opportunity to redefine the profession. Content marketing isn’t making PR obsolete; it’s forcing it to adapt to make itself more effective than ever.

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The following are just some of the ways in which publicists can retain their relevancy in this age of content marketing. 

  • Repurpose impressions: Strategic publicists know that securing an impression is merely step one. The real traction comes when you find ways to repurpose that impression. As brands increasingly become their own content creators, the demands for new content are ever-growing. PR’s central role in content marketing is to land impressions that can be circulated back into the content marketing workflow and repurposed as blogs, website content, infographics and a variety of other types of media.
  • Manage social media accounts: Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ are more than just great ways to kill some time at work. They are the largest publishing platforms in existence, each with its own built-in audience of millions of users. Why not cut out the middle man—that being traditional media—and deliver your client’s message directly to the target audience?
  • Become a Twitter expert: Besides helping to manage the social media of your clients, you can also use social media as a robust PR tool to monitor and engage with traditional media. Twitter is especially useful in this arena, as practically every publication, editor and reporter has an active handle on the site these days. In fact, by actively seeking out media feeds that are relevant to your clients, you not only can get instant insight into what the outlet is covering, but you can also directly engage with the outlet through retweets and Tweet @s. 
  • Understand SEO strategy: There are two parts to SEO: the humans and the robots. The humans are your site visitors. The robots are the search engines and their complex algorithms, which dictate where your site ends up in search engine results. While humans are drawn to the quality of your content, the robots are influenced by a number of other factors. One of these factors is backlinks – links from authoritative websites that point people to your site. The more reputable backlinks, the higher your site might rank. Publicists should consciously think of ways to strategically land backlink opportunities for their clients. For instance, having a bylined article published on a reputable industry website and embedding backlinks into that article can help raise an organization’s SEO profile.
  • Get traditional media impressions: Yes, I just said that we have entered an era in which traditional media is losing its relevance. But decades of aggregated industry clout don’t disappear overnight. Established media outlets have two things going for them that many new media sites do not: credibility and circulation. Few can compete with the cachet of credibility established by the likes of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

As the PR industry continues to experience a sea change, publicists have to make the choice to fight the current or ride the wave. Those who learn to adapt will thrive, while those who stay the course may see diminished returns over time. The greater point, though, is that content marketing is not a threat to PR; it’s just the new reality.

How has your organization adapted the role of traditional PR for today's market?

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