Content marketing, advertising and PR work together to win

Content marketing, advertising and PR work together to win

A marketer from Kaiser Permanente posed this question in my content marketing workshop: “How can other aspects of brand messaging (i.e., advertising and PR) better interact with the marketing content team?”

It ranks among the Top 100 Questions on content marketing.

Marketers’ and communicators’ successes in content marketing are often limited by organizational structures. When content marketing is in its own silo, separate from advertising, separate from events, separate from employee communications, it starts with a disadvantage.

Organization siloes block content marketing success 

As a result, these separate teams often lack a common mission, strategy, and message. Even when a chief marketing officer (CMO), chief communications officer (CCO), or vice president (VP) tries a cross-functional approach, seldom do all key players get to see the metrics from outside their own teams.

A test and learn environmental calls for a big tent
Build a big tent to co-create a mission and strategy, then measure the value of content marketing.

To maximize success for content, advertising and PR, communications, work closely together with a big-tent approach. This starts with a leader who works to create a unified community to advance the organization’s brand and reputation.

When you take a big-tent approach, it’s crucial to look at your brand through the eyes of customers. Customers don’t care about your organization chart – they only care about what they see and feel, what you promise, and how well you deliver on the promise.

Upend silos that block progress  

Co-create your brand’s marketing mission, strategy, message, and metrics by including everyone whose input is relevant in a workshop.

A big-tent approach is highly inclusive. It goes beyond marketing and communications alone.

Draw in key decision-makers who approve your company’s strategy and messaging. Ideally, here’s who to include in your big-tent approach to co-creation:

  • The chief, the leader who’s responsible for growth – your CEO, business unit leader, general manager, or chief operations officer (COO).
  • People who are direct reports to this leader and have a say on marketing issues, including the chief financial officer (CFO), the human resources (HR) chief, and the general counsel.
  • Your top sales executives and leaders from sales regions or segments.
  • The head(s) of product, product lines, or research and development (R&D).
  • In publicly traded companies, the head of investor relations.

It can be daunting to get all of these people in the room. If you can do it, the payoff is huge.

How to gain your leaders’ support

Here’s the pitch I used with the 8 CEOs I worked for: “You’re asking me to run the marketing and communications trains on time. But everyone here has their hand on the emergency brake.

“I need your help to get everyone on the same page.” Then I’d ask the CEO for a half-day of his team’s time to hammer out a 1-page Message Map for the company or brand.

In 4 hours, we co-created one unified story to tell across all our marketing and communications teams. This is what it takes to get the whole choir singing the same song.

Content marketing, advertising and PR work together to win
A Message Map gets everyone on the same page, so your message is backed up by the whole choir.

Give people a say in marketing 

Give people their say in marketing – especially stakeholders outside marketing. Why?

Because it’s better to hear their views upfront when you’re building buy-in.  It’s too late to hear from them during the review process when you risk missed deadlines.

I guarantee you that winning the leadership team’s buy-in upfront will pay dividends for years to come.

You’ll save lots of time that is wasted on reviews – since you gain the authority and license to say, “This deliverable is on strategy, on message, and on-brand. It’s in line with what we agreed to, so it’s good to go.”

Once your C-suite gets on the same page about the company’s story, stage a workshop to co-create your 1-sentence marketing mission and 1-page marketing strategy. Use our 1-page strategy template to make your job easier.

Buy-in leads to success 

Your strategy needs to spell out metrics for success. Gather and share metrics with a cross-functional team in monthly all-in analytics meetings.

How best to manage and track success of best performing content Group of rulers/measuring sticks
Agree upfront on what and how you will measure results.

Here’s the commitment you need to make: Each team member will regularly see their own team’s results, plus results from related teams.

Why? Because a spike in web traffic may have been driven by a new ad, by an event, by a new product introduction, or by a mention in national media.

Unless you monitor all of these data points, it’s impossible to tell what exactly is making your marketing go right. You need to make intelligent decisions based on data, not untested opinions or intuition.

Encourage people to formulate hypotheses about performance that you can test going forward. Collect two sets of metrics:

  1. One to show the value created for the brand (inquiries, qualified leads, sales pipeline, revenue, and profits, return on marketing investment)
  2. The other to focus on improving marketing and communications operations (web traffic, email performance, events metrics, and so forth).

What’s the ideal media mix?

Use this lens on your brand’s marketing and communications: scrutinize the type of media your content appears in – owned, earned, or paid.

all the company's paid and earned media should point to your owned media - Content marketing, advertising and PR work together to win
Maximize owned content by making sure all your earned and paid content points to it, so you can recruit subscribers.

Owned media are all the media where the audience is in direct contact with your brand – your website, emails, direct mail, catalogs or print publications, webinars, events, and communities that your brand owns.

Great marketers focus on winning subscribers who give you permission to communicate directly with them, avoiding the need to go through a middleman with paid media or a gatekeeper with earned media.

Paid media are those you use to reach audiences owned by middlemen – such as advertising, paid social media, trade shows, sponsorships, and paid speaking opportunities. The challenge of paid media is that you lack any direct ties to the audience, so middlemen can raise prices or take away access as they wish.

Earned media are unpaid media with gatekeepers you do not control. You need to convince gatekeepers that your content is worthwhile to earn a seat at the table.

Earned media include speeches at conferences, organic social media, thought leadership, news coverage, news releases, podcasts, and so forth. They’re not really “free” since they require a huge investment of time, but you don’t pay money to reach the audience.

The biggest opportunity? Earned media 

As I work with marketers around the country, I consistently find that earned media are the most underutilized resource in content marketing.

Why? Because public relations (PR) is too often uninvited to the content marketing party. Even worse, PR and marketing are rivals who don’t understand each other since their skills sets differ.

PR is usually great at interviewing, creating content, storytelling, thought leadership, and working with people they don’t control. But PR is seldom good at generating leads that convert to sales.

That’s why marketing and PR must work together to maximize brand success. To do so, take a big-tent approach.

Marketing and PR leaders often focus on their differences because they compete for resources. They often fail to recognize their common mission, and they may lack high-level strategies to multiply their successes.

Point to your owned content 

Here’s the key for content marketers: All your paid and earned content should point to your owned content, as you saw in the graphic above.

Why? Because owned media is where you recruit subscribers and convert them into customers.

In the long run, companies and brands must maximize direct access to their audiences through owned media. That’s because paid media can increase prices endlessly or deny access, while earned media depend on gatekeepers’ approvals.

Gain access to your owned audience by creating a content base with content so valuable, people are happy to pay for it. Think of The Michelin Guide, The Red Bulletin, and paid blogs such as Ted Gioia’s music blog Honest Broker.

You can acquire access to owned audiences by buying your industry’s top publications, websites, and events. Examples include the Content Marketing Institute, bought by Informa, and the dozens of trade websites bought by Arrow Electronics.

The ultimate proof of content’s value? 

It’s the Guinness Book of World Records. With a first edition written in 13½ weeks, the book appeared in 1955 to provide authoritative answers to curiosity questions B.G. (before Google).

Guinness Book of Records
The first edition of the Guinness Book of Records was a tremendous risk — and an immediate best-seller. Ultimately it sold for $65 million in 2001.

Over time, it became the best-selling copyrighted book of all time, outselling every book except the Bible. When Diageo acquired Guinness in 2001, it sold off the Book of World Records for $65 million.

The Guinness Book is the ultimate proof that when you build a brilliant content base, you create a long-lived asset for the brand, not a short-term expense.

“How can other aspects of brand messaging (i.e., advertising, plus PR) better interact with marketing content team?” is one of the Top 100 Questions on content marketing. Here are the answers.

Content marketing, advertising and PR work together to win