The Huffington Post recently published an article that made every PR practitioner fist pump at their desk. The article, “Content Marketing Is 88 Percent Less Effective Than Public Relations”, uses meaningful data on consumer purchasing behaviour to determine what channels are more persuasive in decision-making.
The results are quite staggering, with earned media being 80 per cent more effective than content marketing at the purchase consideration stage, 80 per cent more effective at the affinity stage and 38 per cent more effective at the familiarity stage.
A great plug for the benefits of credible, earned media coverage, but I would hasten to add that there is an important place for content marketing in any communication strategy.
Whether selling consumer products and services, or operating in a B2B environment, the most important function content marketing can play for your business is to educate your stakeholders.
In fact, the less you use content marketing to sell and the more you use it to educate, the more successful it’s likely to be at influencing behaviour.
Content marketing should be used as a long-term communication channel to educate stakeholders: educate them on the industry, on issues and challenges that can be faced by operating in the industry, and on how a product or service is developed and what other stakeholders have experienced.
The aim of content marketing is to arm your audience with the right information to make decisions for themselves.
What the Huffington Post article really highlights is the inability for isolated content marketing to build trust and credibility, and to be successful a consumer really needs both information and trust to make a purchasing decision.
Here are some of Cole Lawson’s top tips for developing a successful integrated content strategy:
- Don’t treat PR and content marketing as activities that require separate skills. Developing meaningful content can turn up wonderful PR opportunities. Get your wordsmithing PR consultants to research and develop content marketing and to generate PR stories from their work.
- Have a content strategy. Although it’s important to stay current and topical, it is equally important to have a bank of planned content ideas to ensure activity remains robust, even in dryer times.
- Respond to the market and do it promptly. In this day and age it is critical that content responds to what is happening right now.
- A great story always goes to PR first. Newsworthy means new. If you have a compelling story it should always be used for PR activities as a priority.
- Always remember your target audience. If your key stakeholder has a sophisticated knowledge of energy markets, make sure your content on energy markets can still inform. At the same time, don’t overuse industry jargon or assume the reader has already read last week’s article. Write for the entire population of your target audience.