Last week I was invited by the Public Relations Consultancy Association (PRCA) to be part of a panel discussion on PR and content marketing. It was a lively debate, chaired by Tanya Hughes of SERMO Communications and other panellists included Joan O’Connor Head of Brand PR, Coca Cola, Branwell Johnson, Deputy Editor, Marketing Week and Juliet Warkentin, Director, Brand & Creative, Amazon Fashion Europe.
During the session we covered a lot, from how to define content marketing to how to get real value from it and measure success. There was real consensus that content has to have context and elicit an emotional response as well as add value. As Branwell noted, if content has value it means it is ‘something people are willing to spend time with’. When content adds value, there is a higher likelihood of it being shared and seen by a wider audience.
How to measuring value and the impact of content marketing was one of the key questions of the day, and Joan O’Connor at CocaCola made a good point “it’s difficult to think of content marketing just in terms of selling. You’ve got to have the brand.” People need to be thinking of content marketing as long-term pay-off, not a short-term fix.
When it came to the role of PR teams in the content marketing mix there was no doubt that there was a real opportunity here. Joan noted that “PR can kick start” a content based campaign, whether it is owned, earned or paid. However, for PR agencies, it was noted that there is a shift in brands wanting to work with fewer agencies, so PR companies need to add ‘more strings to their bows’ to capitalise on this.
Everyone agreed that there needs to be a definite investment in the content creation, plus there has to be some thought put into the distribution and who is it going to be seen by. The session was a real insight into both the challenges and opportunities that content marketing holds for the PR industry, clients and agencies, and food for thought for all of us in the room.