As the primary storytellers in your organization, it would make sense that PR executives would own the strategy and the budget for their company’s content marketing initiatives. Why, then, is that so rarely the case? According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), the ownership of the content marketing function still lies overwhelmingly in the hands of marketing, not PR. But the CMI also reported in its 2014 survey that only 42 percent of content marketers feel like their programs are effective.
This presents a significant opportunity for PR professionals to add value to their brands and organizations and take control of a budget that 60 percent of organizations plan to boost in 2015, per CMI.
Below are a few tips to help you take the reins of your brand’s content marketing efforts:
▶ Define what content marketing ROI looks like for your organization. Don’t try to convince your organization that other people’s definition of ROI is what’s right for your business.
Determine what your marketing team is currently being judged on, and show how content marketing can help meet those goals.
Look at how much your organization is currently spending on content production and distribution today.
Then look at the leads that content has generated, how those leads have converted to revenue and then subtract the content production/distribution costs. Is this generating revenue? Is this reducing cost? Is this enhancing your customers’ experience?
▶ Create a content feedback loop, and use that feedback to inform pitching. Too many content marketers are focused purely on production and promotion of content, without asking what their potential customers think of that content.
By introducing a process where you frequently survey customers/leads on the quality of the content you promote, you can identify what they want more/less of and what topics are important to them.
This feedback not only helps you refine your content creation/promotion strategy to optimize costs, but it can also help you identify trends that you can then pitch to your media contacts for ongoing coverage.
▶ Address key marketing KPIs. If you want to own a budget that typically falls under the marketing team, you need to make sure you address the key KPIs that marketing addresses.
It’s great to show how PR’s control of content marketing can help increase share of voice, but what about content marketing’s affect on SEO (and thus, a reduction in SEM spending)?
Since you’re creating a feedback loop, talk about the value of the data you’re collecting and the cost savings, compared to using a third party to collect that data or the cost of focus groups.
Any chance you have to show how your team’s management of content marketing can reduce the overall marketing spend will increase your chance of securing that budget.
▶ Reduce your dependency on branded content. Recent Nielsen research shows that consumers trust what third-party experts are saying about you more than what you have to say about yourself.
Since your PR team is responsible for securing coverage from trusted, third-party experts, it is essentially generating the most impacftul content at your organization’s disposal today.
▶ Make sure your content is not a one-trick pony. The primary goal of content marketing is typically lead generation. That’s great, but what happens once you’ve got that lead in the door? The next goal should be to help increase conversion and shorten the sales cycle.
PR is in a unique position to guide the ongoing development of the customer in a way that is consistent with the corporate message. This also puts PR in a strategic position to provide feedback to the sales team about which messages are resonating with customers.
Overall, it’s not enough to just argue that PR should own content marketing based on its storytelling capabilities alone.
The more you can outline a plan that shows how your PR team can help reduce the cost of content marketing—while increasing results—the greater your chance of winning that budget becomes.
Robb Henshaw is VP of marketing and communications at inPowered. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @Robb_Henshaw.
This article originally appeared in the October 20, 2014 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.