The ability today for companies and organisations of any size to publish their own content, in effect becoming their own media channels, is such a powerful proposition, it never ceases to blow me away.
Unfortunately though, precious few marketers, PR pros and business owners are taking full advantage of the broader ‘content universe’ that sits squarely in front of them (see diagram below).
If your goal is to truly take things up a notch or three using strategic content as a leverage point, in all likelihood you’re going to have to start thinking and acting more broadly from both a strategic and tactical perspective. In other words, take a more multidimensional approach to the content you create and publish.
When it comes to content marketing for PR, most brands tend to focus on only one or two spheres of the diagram above.
They’ll churn out promotional content with glee, and may also deliver utility-based content that focuses on customers’ challenges, needs and pain-points. Utility content tends to be either educative and how-to in nature, or simple self-serve information that addresses questions your audience might have.
But promotional and utility content will only tell a portion of your organisational story.
‘Leadership’ and ‘corporate’ content are two key types of content that businesses and organisations can use to strengthen their reputational VITAL signs – Visibility, Influence, Trust, Advocacy and Leadership.
Tellingly, both of these areas generally require active buy-in from an organisation’s senior leadership.
Let’s unpack them:
- This is where old school PR meets new school PR.
- PR practitioners have long created content on behalf of the organisation they represent (whether they’re in-house or agency) – it’s just that in days gone by, and to a large degree today still unfortunately, this content has been so narrow-minded and brand-focused that it hits the mark in the boardroom but rarely anywhere else. It’s pretty old school.
- Companies and organisations need to create content that ‘pumps their tyres’, we get why that’s important. But it doesn’t mean this content can’t still be interesting. New school PR practitioners attempt to take corporate content and transform it from something that is quite boring and turn it into content that is at least somewhat engaging (well, as much as possible).
- You could put corporate press releases into this category – but why stop there? Why not support it with content that brings the press release to life? A video of the CEO expanding on the news contained within said release. Or a blog post that fleshes out a company’s annual results but does it in such a way that is conversational and jargon-free (and therefore more readable).
- Corporate content provides the ideal opportunity to take people ‘behind the velvet rope’ of your organisation – this is a powerful thing to do as it can build help engagement and trust with an organisation’s constituents.
- This content is substantive and insightful; it tends to be more thought provoking and is often bigger picture in nature than utility-based content, and is designed to spark conversation and potentially ignite debate.
- It doesn’t necessarily address a customer need or pain-point, indeed, it might even challenge people, metaphorically ‘poke them in the eye’ by changing the way they think about a particular topic or issue.
- THINK: Commentary on industry issues and trends, insights based on research, informed perspectives on big picture topics; the audience doesn’t know what it doesn’t know – often this content is interesting and worth coming back to but doesn’t necessarily answer a question a customer might have.
- While leadership content is generally more associated with social organisations and professional services firms, lifestyle-oriented brands can also tap into this ‘bigger picture’ publishing trend by providing content that inspires and takes the reader (or viewer or listener) deeper into a topic that’s broader than just your brand. Paint and paper company Farrow & Ball’s The Chromologist online publication is a good example of this.
Please note, these content categories can be quite fluid and inevitably there will be overlap. For example, a blog post or video might be both utility-based and promotional in nature.
At Zoetic Agency, we recommend that businesses, organisations and professional individuals think about the options available to them across the full spectrum of the content universe.
Get the mix right on a consistent basis and it just might help differentiate your brand in today’s overly-crowded marketplace.