January 23, 2023 Content Chat Recap: Why Brands Need Both Content Marketing and Public Relations

A Content Chat header image featuring an array of flowers behind a text overlay that says today’s topic is why brands need both content marketing and public relations, with guest Michelle Garrett.

You’d be lucky to get a room of executives to agree on the value of public relations and content marketing, but both of these areas fill necessary and unique brand needs that are critical to your success.

In this #ContentChat recap, Michelle Garrett, PR consultant, and the community discuss why brands need both content marketing and public relations, including what each field involves and how to balance your efforts. Read the full recap below to learn:

  • Advantages and disadvantages of public relations and content marketing
  • How to align your content marketing and PR teams
  • Ways to assess which area is a better investment for your brand

Q1: How do you define content marketing and public relations?

Here is how the community defines content marketing:

A1: This is a great article that helps define/explain content marketing via @cmicontent. https://t.co/hvSbO4bOq0
1/2#ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

A1: PR is reaching your audience through existing external media platforms, while content marketing is creating incredibly useful content that puts you top of mind for your audience as a helpful resource (leading to being a future purchase to consider).#ContentChat https://t.co/NxamvFQI26

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

A1: I define content marketing as a way of providing value to customers above-and-beyond product benefits. I have not really thought about a definition for PR. #ContentChat

— Andi Robinson (@hijinxmarketing) January 23, 2023

And here is how we define public relations:

A1: For a definition of PR, I like: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” via @PRSA

2/2 #ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

A1a: #PublicRelations varies greatly across organizations, but at the highest level possible: PR is about engaging your key audiences to increase your brand awareness and strengthen your brand reputation and thought leadership. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) January 23, 2023

A1b: Many people mean “media relations” when they say “public relations,” but I’ve worked with brands on the PR side for speaking and awards programs, bylined content creation, social media management (for better or worse), internal comms, and more. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) January 23, 2023

It’s always interesting to me how often that’s the case! But PR is about more than just getting a company’s name in print.#ContentChat https://t.co/2VmbQq8VBM

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

Q2: What goals can your brand meet by investing in content marketing vs. public relations? What are the shared and unique needs they can address?

Content marketing and public relations activities can both result in content—blog posts, news articles, videos—that helps your buyers find the information they need to make purchasing decisions.

A2: Data shows that many (most?) buyers do the majority of their research online before ever contacting a brand to make a purchase. Content marketing can help those potential buyers find the information they need to make a decision. 1/2 #ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

A2: Where content marketing & PR dovetail nicely is in the development of the content – and then PR can help gain more visibility for the content that’s been developed.
2/2 #ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

Content strategy is really more of an integrated function – it includes campaigns, PR, events, etc… Different branches of the same tree. #ContentChat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) January 23, 2023

PR teams are often skilled in media relations, meaning that investing in PR can boost your earned coverage and share of voice.

A2: I believe public relations teams are best used when focused on media relations to strengthen your brand awareness or executive thought leadership. Share of voice is one way to measure this, although I dislike share of voice. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) January 23, 2023

PR teams often have influencer and stakeholder relationships that help to create more engaging content.

In so many organizations, PR has the influencer and stakeholder relationships that can help create more engaging content. #ContentChat https://t.co/CkwhUnypxg

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

Both teams can help you to build trust and credibility with your community, make your content shareable, and increase your brand awareness.

A2. I can thi k if following as of now:

– building trust and credibility
– making your content shareable
– telling your audience that you exist
– educating about your products and services
– collaborating with your audience
– getting sales, webs traffic, more reach#ContentChat

— Aimen Arshad (@Aimencreates) January 23, 2023

A2: Content marketing increases reach. PR sets the tone. #ContentChat

— Sweepsify 🎈 (@Sweepsify_) January 23, 2023

Thought leadership is one area that PR and content marketing teams should collaborate on for the best results.

I think most people think of content marketing as PR because they are looking to market their visibility.

Especially when it comes to authors.#ContentChat

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) January 23, 2023

Thought leadership is one of those areas where content marketing and PR really need to collaborate for the best results. It’s always a huge bummer when I see folks silo those efforts and not link back to their owned resources, for example. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

And – PR pros have been doing some of what content marketers do for years (before the term content marketing existed). #ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

Right?? My first post-journalism job that used my skill set was a MarComm manager role, where I did PR and content.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

Sadly, I don’t think internet companies understand the difference between PR and content marketing much less the average mom and pop shop out there.#ContentChat

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) January 23, 2023

That’s how I got interested in content marketing in the first place – because it sounded like the work I was already doing in PR. I wanted to understand more about how/if they differed – & how they could work better together. #ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

Q3: What are the common advantages and disadvantages of public relations and content marketing when compared to each other?

PR and content marketing address many similar areas, but content marketing often involves more of the “owned” media side of the PESO model.

A3: I usually argue that what content marketers do, PR pros have been doing for ages. I think PR pros are great at determining news & stories & helping tell stories – AND getting more visibility.

1/2 #ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

A3: Content marketers delve more into the “owned” media side (if you follow @ginidietrich’s PESO model). You control the message there – vs earned media which is on the PR side.
2/2#ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

PR vs Content

Earned vs Owned

I LIKE THIS! Thanks Michelle!#ContentChat https://t.co/iIossIKJfH

— Kathryn Lang – hopesmith and dream ignitor (@Kathrynclang) January 23, 2023

We had Gini on #ContentChat in 2020 to discuss the updated PESO model. 😊https://t.co/jgiGnoEFNI

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) January 23, 2023

PR influences brand awareness and reputation, which are very difficult to quantify and measure. Content marketing results are easier to track.

A3: While PR influences brand awareness and reputation (both of which can be more expensive/challenging to quantify and measure), content marketing is often much easier to track against ROI. But PR’s unpaid reach is typically a lot wider. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

A3: PR involves a lot of guesswork and often comes down to timing and luck (although some pros would disagree). Content marketing I feel you have better control of your output and can much easier measure the actual value of your results. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) January 23, 2023

PR teams navigate an ever-changing social and political climate, which can make planning difficult.

A3: Disadvantages of PR? A changing social / political climate that could render your strategy ineffective.

Disadvantages of content marketing? Overspending on ineffective content.#ContentChat

— Sweepsify 🎈 (@Sweepsify_) January 23, 2023

Both activities can be considered high risk if you fail to plan and account for the nuances of each field.

A3. Not very sure about the two of the together, but

Adv – trust, sales, web traffic, readers, reach
Disadv- high risk ( if not done the right way) #ContentChat

— Aimen Arshad (@Aimencreates) January 23, 2023

Q4: At what stage is a company ready to invest in public relations or content marketing? Should one come before the other?

Teams should ideally hire a skilled PR pro that can advise on all types of issues and help with content creation. However, you’ll need to scale your team to appropriately serve each distinct area.

Q4: That’s a tough one. I feel that you need a skilled PR pro on your team (internally or externally if you hire a consultant) to help advise you on ALL types of issues. But, you do need content in the form of stories, news, case studies.
1/2#ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

A4: If you hire a PR pro who has journalistic training & is a strong writer, they can help with the content development as well as promoting it.

That’s why I feel PR pros like this are so valuable.

2/2#ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

Erika recommends hiring a fractional PR leader and a fractional content marketing leader to help you define your strategy.

A4: I personally think PR and content marketing should be part of any company founder’s initial staffing plan. Why? Because you need to define and then build a community around your brand. This takes strategy, execution and an ongoing focus. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

A4b: Luckily, these can be fractional or freelance team members. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

Content marketing is especially helpful for explaining your brand story and the value you provide to customers or clients. PR is most helpful when you’re ready to announce funding or major news that merits media relations.

A4: If you’re an early-stage startup, I recommend prioritizing #contentmarketing over #publicrelations to create blog posts and thought leadership content that explains the challenges your product/solution solves. Once you get ready to announce funding, bring on PR. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) January 23, 2023

That’s a GREAT plan. Many early-stage startups are limited on $$ resources. #ContentChat

— Anh Nguyen (@AnhTNguyen) January 23, 2023

That’s a lot on the main goals!

I think if the company has the resources then they should immediately start investing in content marketing. It goes a long way. You can find stories write blogs, do social media, website etc.

A good content can help you dive into PR #ContentChat

— Aimen Arshad (@Aimencreates) January 23, 2023

A4: IMO Content marketing should start as soon as the brand establishes a use case for #SEO

PR starts on day 1 bc it informs your brand. #ContentChat

— Sweepsify 🎈 (@Sweepsify_) January 23, 2023

Q5: What do you wish more companies understood about leading successful public relations and content marketing programs?

Content marketing and PR need to be BFFs. Create an org chart that helps them work together.

A5: Content marketing and PR need to be BFFs. It’s terrible when the org chart sets up an adversarial relationship between the two. There is so much great work—surveys, thought leadership, events—that are so much better when created together.#ContentChat https://t.co/9wqWpfiQmJ

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

Be realistic about your goals. Increasing every goal year-over-year is not always viable (or a smart use of your budget).

A5: I wish more teams were realistic with their public relations goals. Companies often raise their goals each year—more award wins, more speaking slots, more coverage—but without a steady news pipeline and executive support, that isn’t always doable. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) January 23, 2023

OMG, right?! That’s what I see SO often. They tell you what they want – but they are either unwilling or unable to bring what is needed to achieve that to the table. It’s not magic-the client also has to actively participate in the process. #ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

I think it depends on how you define “news” here. I’ve seen PR pros look at product launches, awards, and key moments as “news”. It’s more about raising the brand perception and less about what’s new. #ContentChat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) January 23, 2023

I think it’s what PR pros do with this that matters. So it can all be plugged in to what you’re doing in some way. It is important to mark these milestones – but I agree that it has to go beyond that. #ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

PR and content teams need support from executives and subject matter experts to be successful.

If I were advising companies who hire a PR consultant or agency of one thing, it’s this – THEY are part of the equation, too. THEY need to contribute/collaborate in order for the work to be successful. #ContentChat https://t.co/0DtSbkYnju

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

See also: expecting the PR and content team s to “crank out” content without having time with the executives whose thoughts are supposed to be out there as leadership advice! ;)#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

Whoa, that is SO important. If you can’t spend time with the execs, how are you supposed to create ghostwritten content in their voice, for example? #ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

I remember a long time ago being told to “read their ___ column” and “talk to PR.”

That puts your content team at SUCH a disadvantage.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

PR and content marketing require time and consistency. Do not expect to see immediate results.

A5: That it takes time & consistency. It’s not something you can try for a day or a week or a month-then say, “Oh, well, PR/content marketing doesn’t work.” You have to stick with it. And be willing to change up your approach, if/as needed. #ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

Q6: How can companies find public relations or content marketing support without making a full-time hire?

Consultants, fractional leaders, and small agencies are great options for teams with limited resources.

A6: I’m a big advocate of hiring a consultant or perhaps a small agency. Figure out what your budget is, then find someone who’s a fit for your industry (& your budget). Ask for recommendations/referrals. #ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

Find PR and content marketing support through Twitter Chats, at industry-related conferences and events, and through your favorite industry networks and sites.

A6: You can find talented PR and content marketing professionals who understand your niche in chats like this one, speaking at industry-related conferences and events, and writing for publications like @CMIContent @PRDaily @MarketingProfs @muckrack. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

Social media channels are valuable for connecting you with support. Ask your network about who they recommend based on your needs.

A6b: And, of course, ask your #LinkedIn network for referrals. Especially in our current hiring environment, there are many folks looking for PT roles, or with room for new clients in their agency/consultancy rosters.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

Q7: What are the top 3 PR and content marketing challenges that teams will face this year?

Challenges that teams will face include cutting through the noise and addressing a lack of employee experience…

A7: I’m going to refer to this @SwordandScript article based on research done in 2022: https://t.co/pF2hUleatj
1) cutting through the noise (35%)
2) too many priorities (31%)
3) lack of employee experience (25%)#ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

Resource management, staying agile given the economic uncertainty, and balancing short- and long-term goals…

A7: Top PR and Content challenges for 2023:
💸🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Resources
Remaining agile with current economy
Short term > long term goals#ContentChat https://t.co/8f3PvL8Z8M

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) January 23, 2023

Overcoming burnout…

A7: 3 big shared PR and content challenges right now are:

1) Economic uncertainty makes companies unwilling to commit to planning and budgets
2) Corporate layoffs make it harder to get things done (do more with less, bad contact data)
3) Burnout is real.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

And sifting through the hype of AI.

A7: 3X AI 😵‍💫🍭 I think some brands will be in trouble once they realize they’ve let chatgpt run amok #ContentChat

— Sweepsify 🎈 (@Sweepsify_) January 23, 2023

I agree. While it can be a helpful thought starter, those who lean on it too heavily without proper editing and fact-checking will be seeing the fallout from the plagiarism and the misinformation.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

Q8: One area of common friction between PR and content teams is executive thought leadership. Who should own that program, and why?

The community generally agrees that the PR team should “lead” executive thought leadership programs because PR pros will likely coordinate most of the opportunities. That said, content marketing should typically own any content creation needs and they should be looped into all opportunities.

A8: Hmm…I’d say PR. Although the two teams can/should work together. And let’s agree that having execs who buy in to PR/content can make a HUGE difference in the success of the program, regardless of who owns it. #ContentChat
1/2

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

A8: I think it’s important to have this be a partnership between the two teams, but I’m on the side of having content marketing own the content creation side of any thought leadership programs.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

A8: I think PR should lead executive thought leadership programs b/c they will likely line up most of the opportunities (media interviews, tracking speaking and award deadlines). However, I think content marketing should own all content creation. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) January 23, 2023

But – when you have a PR pro who can also interview/write, I think PR can own the writing/ghostwriting bylined articles for execs, for example. (True that not every PR pro is a skilled writer with a journalism degree – but some of us are.) #ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

A8: Speaking from experience, I think PR should take the lead, with input and in coordination with content marketing. #ContentChat

— Andi Robinson (@hijinxmarketing) January 23, 2023

I agree! As a content marketer, this makes the most sense to me. #ContentChat

— Anh Nguyen (@AnhTNguyen) January 23, 2023

A8A: Agree it’s definitely PR. Thought leadership always need to be “in the moment” to be effective which is in direct opposition to content marketing’s evergreen strategy.#ContentChat

— Sweepsify 🎈 (@Sweepsify_) January 23, 2023

The goal is to use each team to its unique strengths and balance your tasks so everyone can focus on areas that they can drive the most value.

No one should take the lead. It’s a true partnership in the planning. Some assets/articles are better for PR, while others fit the owned channels. That needs to be discussed as a team to help reduce ROI for all #ContentChat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) January 23, 2023

Q9: Do you have any tips for how to drive alignment between public relations and content marketing teams and activities?

Align your public relations and content marketing teams by using shared spreadsheets and encouraging teams to work together…

A9: I do! A few ideas:
• Encourage teams to work together (don’t silo)
• Use shared spreadsheet w/content that can be plugged into various channels
• Create common goals – approaches & strategies may differ – but shared goals help bring the teams together 1/2 #ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

A9: Honestly, if I were on the content team, I’d LOVE having someone on the PR side help get more visibility for my content.

And if I were on the PR side, I’d love having a pool of fantastic content to pull from – so it really can be a win-win.

2/2 #ContentChat

— Michelle Garrett (she/her) (@PRisUs) January 23, 2023

Agree on shared goals and KPIs…

A9: Get your PR and content team on the same page with shared goals and KPIs. And if possible, get them in a room together (ideally at a conference like #CMworld) so they can get to know each other and become BFFs. That’s when the real magic happens.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

And coordinate time for your team members to meet in person so they can build a personal connection!

A9b: As I noted on LinkedIn (which no one could hear), Michelle and I met IRL at CMworld after collaborating on content for @Meltwater, writing and speaking on their webinars about the intersection between PR and #contentmakreting.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

A9c: Getting to know each other over a tasty dinner, with our client, was a great way to get to know each other and align. Michelle was no longer just an email address—she was this fun person I got to hang out with in CLE!#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 23, 2023

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