The worlds of PR and content marketing are intertwined – but there are a series of differences between these two aspects of digital marketing, both of which may be equally important to your strategy.

In a nutshell, PR is about communicating with established audiences who consume the information presented to them through a news outlet or publication. This reader group trusts the information they receive, and are less likely to skim or bypass articles curated for their preferences.

Content marketing focuses on building brand new audiences from scratch.

The primary difference is that content marketing involves direct brand promotions, usually with a schedule of progressive content as you educate your readers and hopefully encourage them to engage!

The Goals of PR and Content Marketing

Aims of PR

PR is a strategic method of communication where companies publish informative content, which could be press releases, opinion pieces, whitepapers, research articles, case studies or other types of content that boost brand visibility.

The key aims are to:

    • Increase brand awareness
    • Create interest in the company
    • Provide useful information
    • Generate demand
    • Control the brand narrative
    • Establish credibility

Aims of Content Marketing

As the name suggests, content marketing involves publishing different types of content, which should be valuable and relevant, and ultimately incentivise customers to take action.

That might be signing up for a service, joining a mailing list, buying a product or registering for an event.

Content marketing tries to:

    • Boost lead generation
    • Improve customer retention
    • Increase brand authority
    • Nurture subscribers and increase mailing lists
    • Grow revenue
    • Enhance customer loyalty

PR gets a big-picture message to the right audience through a medium they’re likely to trust.

Content marketing is a subset of the overarching goal, using digital content distribution to circulate information directly to the target demographic.

Example PR Methods and Approaches

The next differentiating factor is how digital marketers or professional PR agencies approach these connected puzzle pieces in a marketing strategy.

PR tactics involve securing media coverage, whether digital or print, broadcast or online, and as a brand feature or mention or a fully published press release.

It can also be deployed in a range of specific situations where a brand needs to address an issue or maximise exposure to harness an opportunity or tackle a problem:

    • Reputation or crisis management: responding to negative reviews or reports or as a proactive way to inform customers of potential problems and how the brand is addressing them.
    • Event publicity: developing concepts, gauging interest or publicising an event.
    • Awards or accolades: publishing content about awards, accreditations or achievements as a reputation-enhancing move.

Some companies also use PR to drive brand authority – not just in terms of SEO, but regarding the knowledge and professional expertise of brand representatives.

They might use PR to pitch thought pieces, publish their own take on news events, and leverage this content through cross-posting on social media.

Common Content Marketing Techniques

Blogs and landing pages are the main types of business content, incorporating keywords to help attract new visitors, convert sales prospects into paying customers or improve existing retention and engagement.

Other types of content marketing could include:

    • Case studies: a case study showcases real-life examples of the brand’s products or services in action, usually with measurable statistics to demonstrate the improvements it has made or the pain points addressed.
    • Infographics: visual content is often a better way to describe complex or technical concepts than text. It is also shareable and engaging and can be used to break down difficult subjects into a digestible format.
    • Podcasts: serialised content released as a regular audio edition can be used to tell a story, provide organisational updates or review products, as a few examples.

PR and content marketing agencies often use some of the same tactics, but how the content is distributed and the tone of the language used may differ.

Quantifying the Success of PR and Content Marketing

The two disciplines have different goals, as we’ve seen. A PR agency might report based on the number of high-profile media placements, viewer impressions or referral links used.

Actionable metrics such as web leads and led gen are considerably easier to track through digital PR than a traditional print media placement since physical PR only returns a traceable outcome when it impacts revenues or customer enquiries.

Content marketing also tracks reader actions prompted by the published content – such as engagement metrics, conversion rates or referral traffic.

Which Do I Need: Content Marketing or PR?

The answer to this question is naturally both!

However, one or the other might be more relevant for your business, depending on what you’re trying to achieve and how established the company is.

PR and content marketing work best when combined, because you can use PR placements to direct traffic to digital channels or your website (and vice versa) with a structured engagement strategy at both ends.

Here are a few ways to feature prominent content that enhances the customer’s perception of your business, whichever way they arrive at your landing pages:

    • Publish infographics or imagery with press releases or other PR content – if it’s visible and eye-catching, a reader new to your brand is more likely to want to learn more and click a referral link.
    • Repurpose columns, news features and media mentions as a blog post with a link to the publication to enhance credibility.
    • Add icons for awards, achievements, accolades or reviews to your landing pages. A reader who has seen a PR piece and then sees that reinforced on your website will benefit from consistent messaging.
    • Use topics from PR pieces, such as case studies or white papers, as ongoing themes in blog posts and email campaigns to keep your audience educated and reliant on you as a source of trustworthy information.

The ideal marketing approach blends the power of PR and content marketing. Positive exposure across a range of channels is more effective than one approach or the other, working as a standalone.