May 24, 2021 Content Chat Recap: How To Align Your Content Marketing and Public Relations Teams

A #ContentChat header image that says today's topic is how to align your content marketing and public relations teams, with guest Mariah Obiedzinski.

Marketing and public relations teams often work toward similar goals. Both teams strive to get their company in front of new potential customers, bolster existing relationships, and strategically build the brand’s reputation. But despite this shared purpose, these teams often operate in silos and work independently from one another—which is hurting your customer experience and your team’s ability to achieve its goals.

In this #ContentChat, we’re joined by Mariah Obiedzinski, AVP of content services at Stamats, to discuss how to align content marketing and public relations teams. Read the full recap below, where we explain the difference between the content created by marketing and public relations, how the teams can divide roles and responsibilities for executive thought leadership, and other tips to stay aligned and streamline your team resources.

Q1: From your perspective, what is the difference between the content created by marketing and public relations? 

Public relations content, in general, is created to drive media attention to the company or cast a wide net for maximum exposure. Marketing content is created to drive attention from specific customer personas by addressing their needs, like answering questions or helping overcome a pain point.

A1a: As a #contentmarketing implementer, #PR content feels more driven toward getting media attention to the organization. #Marketing content feels more driven toward getting the actual audience’s attention. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A1b: Marketing requires more targeted, personal relationship building between the audience and the brand/organization. #PublicRelations is broader – casting a wider net for maximum exposure. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A1: Even when the PR and content marketing teams create content jointly, such as with proprietary research, there are typically a number of very different pieces of derivative content pieces for each distinct audience. More on this later in the #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald Consulting (@SFerika) May 24, 2021

A1: To me, content from the marketing team always feels like it’s answering a question, filling a need or addressing a pain point for customers. PR content feels more like we’re teaching people about the brand or benefit. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) May 24, 2021

A1: It’s about the audience:

🔹Marketing content is geared for an audience to WANT the brand
🔸PR content is geared for an audience to LEARN the brand#ContentChat

— SPW ✍️🤓 (@ShawnPaulWood) May 24, 2021

A1 Marketing content is focused more toward the audience and customer journey down the sales funnel, as well as continued support
PR content is geared toward the press and follows more of an analytical and numbers based approach and is far less personal
-Alyx #ContentChat https://t.co/lO6kwcejOt

— Charlie & Alyx – Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) May 24, 2021

A1: Generally, PR content is geared toward analysts and reporters, and their respective audiences. Press releases, fact sheets, occasional blog posts, or bylines. Marketing team content is tailored for the customer journey and meeting specific persona needs. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) May 24, 2021

A1b: For what it’s worth, I rarely hear the phrase “customer journey” or receive any details about keywords when creating PR content. I had no clue what ToFu, MoFu, BoFu is. Working with Erika, though, it’s part of our planning process. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) May 24, 2021

I’m in agreement that a big difference between PR and Content Marketing content is the audience it’s designed to speak to/resonate with/be used by. #ContentChat https://t.co/XzsOX6A9nq

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald Consulting (@SFerika) May 24, 2021

Public relations and marketing approaches are both important, and the lines continue to blur as the media landscape shifts.

A1c: Both approaches are important. In a lot of ways, blog articles are the new press release. Journalists are people, too, who take to #socialmedia to get the latest scoop from community members and organizations. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

However, teams usually operate in silos and duplicate work. This is a poor use of your resources.

A1d: Unfortunately, we see a lot of rework between marketing and PR, particularly at the expense of the subject matter expert’s time. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A1e: For #healthcare providers, talking to #marketing & #PR separately = more time away from patients & more time doing paperwork outside office hours. For marketers, it means taking longer to get competing, similar content out the door. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

That is such a missed opportunity. It’s so much better to consolidate SME interviews and Q&A sessions and record them so both teams can use the transcripts for multiple purposes. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald Consulting (@SFerika) May 24, 2021

Q2: Should PR and marketing teams create one shared content strategy document or two individual ones? How can teams optimize this planning?

Ideally, PR and marketing teams will create one shared strategy document, with an accompanying editorial calendar to track everything.

A2: Absolutely one. Ideally, you will create together one piece of solid hub content to chunk into numerous supplemental pieces – no more toiling away separately to create 2 competing pieces. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A2: I believe in one editorial calendar to rule them all! Combined with quarterly editorial board strategy sessions, monthly planning meetings, and weekly content creator check-ins, of course.#ContentChat https://t.co/adsbB8TE2x

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald Consulting (@SFerika) May 24, 2021

A2 I think it would be best if both teams had one cohesive content strategy – then everyone involved is in the know about what’s being marketed and why, and how to best approach the audiences and teach them about the products
-Alyx #ContentChat https://t.co/zK0EHqgKht

— Charlie & Alyx – Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) May 24, 2021

The shared strategy document should explain the different responsibilities for each team and the various tactics that they’ll employ. If needed, each team can have its own, more detailed document, but any individual plans should ladder up to the shared strategy.

A2: #PR and #Marketing have two different objectives to serve a brand, which creates different strategies and tactics. Take time to learn what each other is doing and set fire together. #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/t8QI3GmCME

— SPW ✍️🤓 (@ShawnPaulWood) May 24, 2021

A2: I think it’s fine to create separate detailed documents if you need it for process optimization and assignments, but they should ultimately ladder up to a larger, shared strategy and calendar that you’re collaborating on. Working in silos never helps! #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) May 24, 2021

A2 It’s like running a sports franchise… everyone has the same goal, but you’re going about it different ways or (in this case) targeting different audiences. It doesn’t mean your teams can’t learn from each other or improve each others’ products along the way. #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) May 24, 2021

A2: Both still have different areas to prioritize such as PR for company reputation and marketing for promoting and selling. However, it will be great if they will have a general one. #ContentChat

— Pavel Stepanov (@pavelStepanov77) May 24, 2021

Jennifer raises a great question. If marketing and PR teams target different audiences, each with distinct content needs, how can one editorial calendar work for both?

But if these areas target separate audiences and need distinct content, how does one editorial calendar work for both? #contentchat https://t.co/xzO9o97zew

— Jennifer L. Dawson (@JLDContentQueen) May 24, 2021

Per the community, you’ll likely need to optimize your current editorial calendar to meet the needs for both PR and marketing—but it’s well worth the effort. Align on goals for the team and envision the various activities or deliverables that will help achieve those goals.

Jumping in! I see a lot of rework in #highered and #healthcare content. Both Marketing and PR want to cover Topic X, so they both interview the subject matter expert and create similar-but-sorta-different content that ultimately works against each other in search. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

It’s all about having the right columns and the appropriate pulldowns that fit the various use cases. The visibility you gain from one editorial calendar outweighs any initial setup time. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald Consulting (@SFerika) May 24, 2021

Agree here. Working exclusively in #healthcare, we’ve seen this a lot. I find it helpful when all stakeholders are on an initial kickoff call (marketing and PR) as well as any SME interviews. It’s more coordination, but it saves on duplicate or competing work. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) May 24, 2021

Your calendar will streamline resources and ensure that all content needs are covered.

With one calendar, the team could conduct one interview, share questions and answers, and produce one substantial piece that they can distribute, #omnichannel style. Note: Reporters LOVE blogs. Makes their lives easier! #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

Yes!! Plus, blogs can fit better with your brand voice than being constrained by the traditional press release format, too. One caveat: reporters still need the top details easily accessible. Consider a quick fact sheet or one-pager to accompany the blog post. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) May 24, 2021

Great idea. We’ve seen #PR teams share the blogs with their contact network, offering a bullet list in the email/tweet/memo about those “why this is news” facts. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

And if your budget allows, adding an infographic, illustrations, or video explainer can also sweeten the deal. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald Consulting (@SFerika) May 24, 2021

Q3: When it comes to executive thought leadership, how do you divide the roles and responsibilities between the PR and content marketing teams?

First, teams need to define their shared priorities.

A3 First and foremost, you have to define the brand’s priorities
Then you can assign roles after that
-Alyx #ContentChat https://t.co/Sh4Xab64IB

— Charlie & Alyx – Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) May 24, 2021

Ideally, your marketing and PR teams will meet at least bi-weekly to discuss goals and activities. This meeting is an opportunity to divide roles and responsibilities.

A3a: In an ideal world, the teams are meeting at least bi-weekly to plan content topics, audience goals, and assignments. The team should decide what level of news the story is: media or conversation? Right now or evergreen? #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A3 To me you team should be scouting opportunities for executive thought leadership opportunities all the time. When one comes up you break out a team to work on it to be sure all the bases are covered and to maximize exposure. #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) May 24, 2021

A3: For executive thought leadership, the marketing and PR teams need to align on priorities and talking tracks for each executive. Then, agree on what you’ll cover. PR usually takes speaking, award, and media opportunities. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) May 24, 2021

A3a Teams that utilize scrums across the company should just pull a list of wins from the scrum leaders. You’ll get a sense for when something exception is afoot and can better plan for a good thought leadership piece. #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) May 24, 2021

If the content is primarily media-focused, then PR should own it. If the content does not rely on media amplification, or if it is against a tight turnaround, then marketing should handle.

A3b: The team in charge of those channels should take the assignment. If the content doesn’t rely on media amplification, or if you need the content up fast, in your institutional voice, #marketing should use your blog & social distribution process. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A3c: If your content does need media amplification – or if it is highly specialized information a specific publication might want –the #PR team should run it and use their #media contacts to gain traction across their networks. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

The main goal is to ensure that you’re not doubling up on work. Conduct interviews or planning processes with both PR and marketing needs in mind to make the best use of your time.

A3a: When PR and content marketing don’t have great relationships, there can be a lot of taking ownership of SMEs and influencers. And that simply doesn’t work! Both teams need to have access and build relationships to meet their goals. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald Consulting (@SFerika) May 24, 2021

A3b: I’ve often worked in situations where both the PR team and the content marketing team are doing executive ghostwriting for example, with the content team often writing contributed content. It all depends on the topic + SME relationship. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald Consulting (@SFerika) May 24, 2021

A3d: That’s not to say you can’t do both – but it’s inefficient to have 2 teams in the same institution vying for 1 SME’s time and competing in search when 1 document (plus savvy distribution) can cover both team’s goals. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A3b: I represented a brand that has communications owners for each of its executives. Those leaders were invaluable in keeping everything aligned and PR up to speed on any content happenings for the exec. However, those resources are rare. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) May 24, 2021

Q4: How can PR and content marketing teams best stay aligned? What methods have worked to keep teams connected?

In Mariah’s experience, one team handles the “heavy lifting,” but the other team helps guide the planning phases and joins any subject matter expert interviews.

A4a: The way I have seen it work is one team handles the “heavy lifting” – setting up the expert interview, doing research and angle ideation ahead of time. Reps from each team attend the interview and ask questions related to their audience. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

At @Stamats, we run our projects top down. One or two strategists run the SME interviews and communications between #PR and #marketing for specific clients. Smooth: a built-in project manager by client and service line. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

Record important meetings for ongoing reference.

A4b: It helps to record these interviews so everyone can converse and no one has to feel stuck, heads down, writing or typing the whole time. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

I try to record interviews and have them transcribed whenever possible. You end up with richer conversations and better content that way—and it captures the interviewee’s voice which is so important. #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/8KxEkCRggB

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald Consulting (@SFerika) May 24, 2021

Use project management tools like Asana, Basecamp, or Redbooth to keep track of tasks.

A4c: We’ve seen teams use #projectmanagement software like Basecamp or even simple editorial calendar tools through Google Drive or Workfront to keep assignments straight. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

Create shared tracker documents, but be conscious of how many different places you are sharing information.

A4b: Trackers, too, are a great way to stay aligned. But be conscious of how many different places you’re storing information. Teams sometimes create too many grids or shared information areas that then become more of a hassle to update than they’re worth. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) May 24, 2021

Offer a shared Slack or another messaging channel for PR and content teams to collaborate.

A4: In addition to the shared calendar and editorial meetings, it can help to have a shared Slack or other messaging channels where PR and content keep each other apprised of content going live, interesting ideas or questions from the audience or press, etc. #ContentChat https://t.co/fSbMexPsvX

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald Consulting (@SFerika) May 24, 2021

Host regular check-in meetings for teams to align.

A4: I love the idea of regular check-ins. They don’t have to be long meetings, but they can help keep everyone in the loop and aligned. Also, if you’re not only the same proj. management tool, have shared access so you can track what everyone is working on. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) May 24, 2021

A4: Your PR team lead should meet with the marketing lead once or twice a month to align on everything. For shared campaigns, have PR and marketing team members in your strategy/planning meetings. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) May 24, 2021

A4: We always conduct zoom meetings twice a week to discuss how we can align our marketing methods. We use it as well to build personal connections with them. #ContentChat

— Pavel Stepanov (@pavelStepanov77) May 24, 2021

And ensure that there is a designated point person to oversee deadlines.

A4d: It helps to have one point person driving deadlines on each “side” and giving everyone access to the library of research and finished pieces you are creating. Sharing is caring! #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A4 If someone isn’t in charge of making sure it gets done, it won’t. Designating someone to be sure the teams are working together and designing objectives to help track progress toward meeting shared goals is critical if that’s something you’re trying to accomplish. #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) May 24, 2021

Q5: What are some underutilized ways content marketing and PR teams can repurpose each other’s work?

Share interview slots with subject matter experts. Have both a content and PR representative available on the call, or at least ensure that both sides can share their proposed questions for the interview. As mentioned in Q4 share any call recordings or notes.

A5a: As noted, sharing interview slots is HUGE for your time investment and your SMEs’. I can’t tell you how many interviews I’ve gone into where the SME said, “Didn’t I already talk to PR about this?” and you’re left stammering since someone didn’t collaborate. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A5b: At least share interview notes/recordings. Nothing is more frustrating than spending 8 hours on an article only to learn later that someone else already gathered all the info you needed and made a separate content piece. Ask me how I know 🙃#ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

Mariah and the community share a few ways that you can repurpose marketing or PR team content. Read their thoughts below, and check out this post for more ideas.

A5c: If a press release already exists, soften the language and add some conversational points. Then record it as a podcast. Or make it into an #infographic. Or create a series of social posts. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A5d: If the blog team wrote the hub piece, #PR pros can send a link to their #media contacts or share it on their institutional or personal social media pages. The story is still there, even if it’s not highly technical. Flag the “news” like @AlekIrvin suggested. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A5e: If your press release version of the story requires tech insight, write a quick intro with stats & figures. Then copy in the blog link and send it off. You might find your media contacts appreciate the quicker read! #ContentChat #journalism

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A5f: Remember, many media organizations serve the lay public, overlapping your #blog efforts with a louder voice. They may give you a back link, which is #SEO gold, or they may reach out to talk with your SME for a story, #podcast, or #video. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A5g: And remember to cross-promote on social if your organization has more than one social media account per platform. For example, a Health and Education “side” for an academic medical center. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A5: There are so many ways to reuse, repurpose and repackage content! Unused interview content from a media conversation or pitch can be turned into a blog post, an executive byline can be turned into an infographic or SlideShare, and so many ways to use survey data. #ContentChat https://t.co/AcHRIk0qOT

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald Consulting (@SFerika) May 24, 2021

A5b: Here’s an example of a CEO contributed byline I reimagined as a SlideShare. #ContentChat https://t.co/ixETH7WShH

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald Consulting (@SFerika) May 24, 2021

A5: I’m always a big fan of re-purposing video content whenever possible. Those are high-value assets that take a lot to produce. Try chopping the video up for social posts, embedding it in a blog, adding to an email campaign, etc. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) May 24, 2021

Turn those quotes into graphics for social posts. #ContentChat

— Jennifer L. Dawson (@JLDContentQueen) May 24, 2021

Q6: Why is executive leadership support essential for a successful content marketing and PR partnership? How can leaders reinforce the importance of this alignment?

Modern marketing strategies are very different than what you’d find in past playbooks. Marketing teams need an executive leader that supports the ability to try new ideas and make the brand more approachable.

A6a: In #contentmarketing and #publicrelations, there are old school holdovers when it comes to what to say, where, and how to say an institution’s story. Many organizations still focus on me, me, me instead of meeting their audiences 80/20. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A6b: Crossing that barrier means talking about the institution differently. In new places or formats. And often in a more open and/or conversational style than some parties are used to. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A6c: It comes back to who you are talking WITH. Not talking TO, not AT. Who are you trying to connect with? Your audience – meet them with the words they use, not the words executives use. And it often takes an exec OK-ing and mandating the strategy to make it work. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

Marketing and PR teams also need an executive that understands the importance of these functions and their need to follow a calculated strategy.

A6d: And for the love of Pete, let’s stop thinking of #PR as damage control. They are part of the same institutional team that gets to share about innovation, cool new things, and trends. Not just drama! #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/iNczYGhbE5

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A6: In some organizations, the PR team is seen as the CEO’s media relations team or personal staff. The leadership team has to make it clear that PR has a bigger, more collaborative role in the organization than that. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald Consulting (@SFerika) May 24, 2021

Yes! Times 100. #PR teams get stretched thin – their goal is to serve the institution, not just one leader or exec team’s branding goals. Still important, but not their whole role. #ContentChat https://t.co/AO85VuiT8D

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A6: Taking a different angle. I think it’s essential for executive leadership to understand the different roles and capabilities of PR and marketing. Confusion on what is/is not possible can cause friction. Set realistic expectations and push back when needed. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) May 24, 2021

Additionally, any executives should actively share content from your team. Especially if that content is under their byline.

A6b: And regardless of who produces content, you need leadership team support as illustrated by them actively sharing content and replying to comments versus approving and walking away. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald Consulting (@SFerika) May 24, 2021

Q7: What hurdles should teams anticipate, and how can they overcome these to ensure a successful partnership between content marketing and PR teams?

Mariah and the community share some top hurdles below. The main points: Remember that PR and marketing teams are on the same page, but addressing different audience needs. By aligning the teams through ongoing check-ins (including campaign debriefs) and shared strategy documents, you will streamline resources and save your team time.

A7a: There can be a lot of understandable grieving of process in change situations that, if left unchecked, can further the divide between #marketing and #PR. That means continued inefficiency and potentially eventual exasperation from the SMEs. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A7b: Marketers aren’t slimy spinners of truth. PR pros aren’t media hounds. We’re on the same page, with slightly different audience needs to serve, but all under the same umbrella of person-to-person communication. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A7c: Our goal as marketers or PR pros should be the same: Give the people what they want/need to know, while simultaneously making the info-gathering & #contentcreation processes easy on our subject matter experts. #ContentChat

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A7d: We’re all busy, and we all work hard. If we pool our efforts – planning, interviewing, creating, distributing – we can work smarter and improve our SME and audience relationships at the same time. #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/fhMdxRA2dW

— Mariah Obiedzinski (@MariahWrites) May 24, 2021

A7: I think there’s bound to be some miscommunication or duplicate work as you’re optimizing your processes. I like having post-project meetings to discuss what could have been done better/differently and implementing those suggestions. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) May 24, 2021

I love post-launch debriefs. They are so critical for improving processes. And with the competing/duplicative efforts, it’s important to mutually work through those issues without discounting the effort that has gone into them. Hurt feelings can derail collaboration. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald Consulting (@SFerika) May 24, 2021

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