Buzzwords come and go, but the traditional PR skills behind the Press Release are the bedrock of content strategy.
Content mixing. Nurturing strategy. Audience funnelling. With some of the terms bandied about by today's media gurus, you'd think the skills of traditional PR were dead.
After all, what can an old-school Press Release matter, in a world of user-snackable, mass-customised, database-driven information sources?
Actually, rather a lot.
Look closer, and you'll find traditional PR makes use of many methods familiar to the cool kids of Shoreditch and Silicon Valley.
To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the Press Release's death have been greatly exaggerated.
But before seeing what unites these two skillsets (The Content Marketing Institute has a useful ebook) let's see what marks each out.
Press Releases and Content Marketing are different animals...
Make no mistake, the core objectives differ.
Put simply, Content Marketing interests people in the idea of flying. ("10 Things You Didn't Know Happened in a 737.") But it's a Press Release that interests them in buying a ticket. ("Sangria Airways Opens New Route to Ibiza.")
In a mediasphere full of negativity, Press Releases bring the good news. They announce information in the form of stories. Articles written specifically to increase your company's profile in the marketspace... and with it your sales and profits.
And writing them is a fine art, because any release that whiffs of advertising will get binned by even the most junior sub-editor. Content Marketing has an easier time here, because CM is specifically not selling a company's wares.
...but the skills of traditional PR are used in both
Whichever brief's on the desk, your agency's approach is the same. It works out the audience and channels that lead to effective engagement. It looks at structures and models known to work for the objective and adopts them. Then it sits down and applies critical thinking and creativity to interest the reader.
(A great adman once said: "If you want to be a well-paid copywriter, please your client. If you want to be an award-winning copywriter, please yourself. If you want to be a great copywriter, please your readers.")
Traditional PR agencies and Content Marketers alike write to please the reader.
So next time you're researching potential PR partners and the whizzbang twentysomething with sculpted facial hair boasts of his audience-optimised media-independent guaranteed-uplift Content Marketing smarts, do something he won't expect.
Give him a pencil and paper, and ask him to write you a Press Release. The good ones – the really good ones – won't hesitate.