Posted on: June 22, 2020
- You should not be pushing press releases — instead, PR professionals should lean on content marketing strategies, says Robert Rose, the founder and Chief Troublemaker of The Content Advisory.
- PR professionals can take matters into their own hands by writing the interesting, original stories they want the media to cover.
- “That lack of trust, while kind of a sad state of the world, is an opportunity for us as brands to create that trust — to create content that is trusted and gives our audience the value they are looking for,” Robert says.
The truth is, the standard fill-in-the-blank press release just isn’t very effective these days. It’s time to switch up your PR strategy.
With more than 30 years of experience in the PR and marketing industry, he’s helped global brands develop content marketing strategies, including Capital One, NASA and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
He also served as the chief strategy advisor at the Content Marketing Institute for nearly a decade and has written countless books on the topic.
On episode 80 of The PR Maven® podcast, I spoke with Robert about why PR professionals should embrace content marketing. He also shared some of his top tips for the PR world — including how to hide unsavory press.
Robert doesn’t sugarcoat it. In his opinion, the PR world has largely lost its way.
“It used to be that PR was the corporate storyteller,” he says. “Somewhere along the way, PR has become the pusher of press releases.”
Rather than using the standard press release template with some lengthy quote from the CEO, Robert suggests PR pros lean on content marketing.
He shares his go-to content marketing tips PR professionals can add to their brand strategies:
1. Take matters into your own hands
It can be frustrating when the media doesn’t pick up a single press release, but you have to ask: Why is that?
“Because it’s not interesting,” Robert says.
His solution? Write the interesting, original stories you want the media to cover.
That’s what the job search website Monster did. It has amped up its editorial strategy by tapping into its rich job search data to produce original research. This research is then handed over to the PR team, so now, instead of exclusively pushing press releases about a new vice president or a new website feature, it’s getting brand exposure by sharing interesting tidbits from the job search world.
“They’re now out there trying to get coverage for this new original research, which of course publications like Fast Company, Inc. and Entrepreneur are all over,” Robert explains.
For example, earlier this year, CNBC Make It covered a story about the most popular day of the week to apply for jobs, which included data from Monster, as well as a quote from Monster’s career expert.
2. Bury the bad stuff
If you, your brand or your company has received unflattering press, one of the best content marketing strategies is to bury it with better content.
Over the years, several companies have approached Robert wondering how they can get rid of bad press published a couple years prior.
You can’t get rid of it, he says. Instead, you bury it.
“What you do is you overwhelmingly produce great content to the point where it becomes a smaller and smaller piece of your ocean,” he says.
3. Think outside the [text] box
When it comes to content marketing, we often think of copy — a blog, a social media post or a magazine article. But don’t let yourself get trapped in that box.
“Really, content is as broad as the word is,” Robert says. “It can be any experience where we can deliver better, more valuable experiences to our audiences that actually help them in some way.”
This experience could be an event, TV show, webinar, podcast — anything that leaves the audience feeling inspired, educated or entertained.
Robert says he’s worked with a few companies that host brand dinners with four to five people. Rather than hosting a large event or conference, a smaller dinner can be a more intimate way to talk about your brand and generate excitement and awareness around it.This also a great way to build relationships and simply enjoy a meal together.
This approach could be particularly useful for companies that have legal/compliance/privacy standards they have to adhere to — like software, security or financial companies.
4. Incite trust by offering value to your audience
Each year, global communications company Edelman releases the Edelman Trust Barometer report, which gauges, in part, society’s trust toward the media. Perhaps unsurprisingly, people’s trust in the media is consistently declining.
That’s why now, more than ever, it’s important for brands to build trust by offering value.
“That lack of trust, while kind of a sad state of the world, is an opportunity for us as brands to create that trust — to create content that is trusted and gives our audience the value they are looking for,” Robert says.
One of the earliest examples of content marketing — and perhaps the best example of this idea — is John Deere’s The Furrow magazine. The agricultural magazine was created in 1895, and it aimed to teach its audience how to become better farmers.
By delivering that value through the magazine, the brand built its readers’ trust. Then, when farmers saw success, they’d turn to John Deere to buy more equipment because John Deere had offered that value.
“Ultimately, when I entertain, inspire or educate you, you come to the conclusion that you need what I’m selling,” Robert says. “That’s really the heart of content marketing.”
This is based on episode 80 of The PR Maven® Podcast, a podcast hosted by Nancy Marshall. Weekly interviews feature industry leaders, top executives, media personalities and online influencers to give listeners a peek into the world of public relations, marketing and personal branding. Subscribe through Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.