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Vivian Li/李雯雯

PR Manager/公关经理

Tel:0086 010 83907451


The evolution of PR through content marketing

Brands are answering the call to create more value for customers and their community by publishing their own news and editorial content. As companies adopt a publisher model of content and media creation, many are surpassing the reach and influence of traditional publications in their industry.

Some great examples of popular content hubs include Intel IQ, Target’s Bulls Eye View, Adobe’s and Dell’s Power More (Dell is a client of mine).

I think everyone watching these trends can agree that the PR industry has been in a state of flux over the past few years. More than 17,000 newsroom jobs have been lost since 2007. If you’re a journalist, that's a scary statistic. If you’re in media relations, it can be concerning too, because with fewer journalists, the competition for stories is even higher.

Declining readership of traditional news, exploding use of social and mobile technologies, shortened news cycles and an explosion in brand publishing make today’s media environment very different for the public relations and communications industry.

[RELATED: Join us at LinkedIn Headquarters July 30-31 for our Content Marketing and Brand Journalism Summit.]

Here’s the good news: Brands are evolving as publishers, hiring journalists to better tell brand stories and investing in content marketing. A decade ago, maybe 25 percent of our our consulting engagements involved content creation. Today, nearly all of our client marketing programs involve creating content to achieve marketing objectives.

Optimize for customers and journalists

In the same way marketers segment customer data to create profiles that reflect key behavioral data about information discovery, consumption and what motivates action, so too can PR professionals approach content creation and optimization for journalists, analysts and reporters doing research. Time on social media and search engines means being where the target audience is looking, whether it’s buyers seeking solutions or a journalist finding statistics or a story source.

How can you be where journalists are looking? By creating and optimizing content that’s useful on “in demand” and relevant topics.

Where does content marketing fit in the public relations and communications mix? I think defining content marketing in the context of PR answers that question well:
Content Marketing is the planning, creation, and amplification of brand and customer focused narratives that drive measurable business outcomes.

When you look at the idea of storytelling targeted to a specific audience intended to affect certain intended outcomes, it sounds a like influencing the public to me. When you combine that ability to incorporate key messaging into content stories with marketing level accountability, it’s a clear competitive advantage over PR or standard content marketing by itself.

Of course, there’s a diverse array of skills involved in content marketing that goes way beyond the purview of most PR professionals, but the messaging, ability to influence and target groups is spot on.

Here’s the thing about content marketing and PR: Both Marketing and Public Relations are in the content business. At TopRank Online Marketing (previously Misukanis & Odden Public Relations), we’ve lived this duality for nearly 15 years. Some of the content types you’ll find PR pros creating include:

Blog Posts
Press Releases
Case Studies
Social Content
Contributed Articles
White Papers
Video, Image, Audio
The value PR brings to the content marketing mix is more than content creation. By providing news content that traditional sources are not, brands are creating new connections with their communities and customers. While much of content marketing falls under the realm of corporate marketing, the expertise in messaging, content creation and media relations that many Public Relations professionals bring to the table can offer competitive advantages.


Facts tell, stories sell. Content Marketing is the ability to tell brand stories that consumers and the media will care about. Who better to find and tell those stories than PR and communications pros?

It is often said that people make decisions based on emotion, but justify them with logic. Therein lies the intersection of PR and content marketing. Stories can connect with customers on an emotional level and the narrative of content marketing can provide a vehicle for both facts and stories that matter to your customers.

Editorial-based marketing

PR professionals understand how news organizations work. Businesses are investing in content from planning to production to editorial. Corporate Journalism is on the rise and PR professionals are perfectly capable of fulfilling those functions or supporting them to create compelling brand content. Content designed to engage also inspires action – whether it’s a social share, a purchase, a referral or an inquiry to do a story.

"Influencer" marketing

Working with bloggers and social media users with big followings has been the stock and trade of media relations professionals for years. Numerous tools from Traackr to GroupHigh to The Shelf can support the need to identify these influential people and content creators based on their ability to spur action. PR professionals are well positioned to identify and engage these "influencers" for a variety of content marketing based outcomes ranging from guest blog posts to co-creation of content with industry experts.

Now more than ever, creating content that influences growth in market awareness and new business requires an integrated approach. While this has been a challenge for many PR professionals as marketing and PR functions converge, the good news is that through a model of attract, engage and convert, organizations can better plan, implement and optimize the performance of their content-based PR programs.

Public relations pros that are skilled in messaging, content planning, social media and promotion have an excellent base to become better content marketers than many of the opportunists now calling themselves content marketing experts.

The main area of opportunity is in measurement, because marketers are accountable to performance and business outcomes in ways that most people in the PR world aren’t.


Vivian Li

PR Manager

Tel: +86 010 8390 7451

Mobile: +86 13041030670