Five PR agencies, which took part in a recent Content Marketing Association (CMA) round-table, explain why having PR at the core of their business has helped them become successful in content.
The PR industry is showing an increased interest in content. Just last year, three PR agencies won awards at CMA’s International Content Marketing Awards, showing an increasing step towards more integrated services.
Clare Hill, CMA’s MD, says PRs are more frequently looking to expand this part of their business offering: “We are constantly having conversations with PR agencies who want to know more about content marketing and how we approach it.”
Five experts – from Clarity, Bell Pottinger, Hill+Knowlton, Kaizo and MWW – explain how PR gives an edge in content:
Sara Collinge, MD at Clarity, says PR pros understand the level of subtlety that’s required to create engaging and audience-relevant content that also meets a client’s broader marketing objectives.
“Too often you see content that is advertorial in nature. Our skills in understanding the client’s messaging in addition to their key business gives us a unique perspective,” she continues.
PR agencies have always been good at storytelling in a way that resonates with specific audiences, according to Victoria Naylor Leyland, head of creative and content at Bell Pottinger.
“Now we are in the position to use this ability in a wider variety of mediums and support the core message with a distribution strategy ensuring we’re getting in front of the right people on the right platform,” she adds.
3. Influencer relationships
The best PR agencies understand the need of the influencer, according to Adam Hartley, head of editorial at Kaizo. Whether they are a journalist, editor, magazine, website or a blogger, PRs are accustomed to marrying clients’ needs and desires – to get premium coverage with clear messaging out to the right people – with the needs and desires of a journalist – to create stories that are newsworthy, memorable, exclusive and shareable.
“Content is key to making this work. Certainly, in Kaizo’s field of expertise, we find that the best consumer and B2B tech PRs think and act like editors and journalists,” he adds.
4. Understanding the client
Paddy Herridge, UK managing director at MWW PR, says: “Great content production has always been a central part of what PR agencies do. If you add onto that the deep understanding of our clients, their businesses, their media and their audiences, then you have the necessary tools to create effective and impactful content marketing strategies.”
Alex Silcox, managing director of internal creative services at Hill+Knowlton, says the agency has a ‘robust and insight-driven’ ideation process which helps ensure everyone, whether they are PR managers, strategists, film makers, writers, designers or crisis managers, understand why an idea or creative route is strong and can explain it.
Silcox adds: “We have a behavioural science discipline and our business is organised into sector specialism. That deep sector expertise and scientific insight into consumer behaviour are just two ways we feel our content offer benefits in a unique way.
“For example, if I’m planning a content programme for a renewable energy company I have 25 energy sector experts as colleagues…that’s a distinct advantage.”