3 Ways Aligning PR and Content Marketing Benefits Your Brand

Vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. Peanut butter and jelly. Bacon and pretty much anything. Some things just belong together, and I promise it’s not just your (or, maybe more realistically, your kids’) favorite food items; I’m talking about content marketing and public relations.

Why, then, do so many leaders tend to choose one strategy over the other? Too often, brands fall into this exclusivity trap, mistakenly believing there’s only one way to achieve their goals. Sure, both PR and content have their respective benefits; done right, you can see wins using either approach. But they actually work well together — even better than they do independently.

How PR and Content Make the Perfect Pair

Despite the fact that PR and content work so well together, plenty of marketing and communications leaders focus their time, attention, and budget on one or the other — typically, on PR. Every leader has his or her own reasons for choosing PR over content, but I see it most often comes down to a couple of key reasons.

For starters, PR is familiar. Yes, it encompasses a lot of tactics, but it’s not as “new” to some brands as content marketing, and you usually know what you can expect when you invest in PR.

And part of what you get is speed and short-term wins that you can see pretty easily, which will always be attractive to companies looking to build their brands and reach new audiences. But brand building and audience engagement are long-term strategies that are ongoing, and that’s where a content marketing strategy becomes especially valuable.

So if you’re stuck deciding between PR or content marketing and focusing all your efforts on one over the other, it’s time to look at what you stand to gain by aligning the two. Here are three reasons your PR and content marketing should work together:

1. You can generate press through your content.

Imagine something exciting is happening at your company. You write about it on your blog and fill your social feeds with teasers about this big development. Someone else — maybe a contributor for a publication in your industry — takes notice.

She decides to write about your company or, better yet, sends you a message asking for a quote to boost her article. Suddenly, the content you’ve created has put you on the radar of someone with even greater reach and access to your target audience, and that’s powerful.

I should mention that simply publishing content won’t get you in front of journalists and contributors who are just dying to write about you. You’ve got to use a variety of content tools to help you create the right content and distribute it effectively.

2. PR can validate your other content.

Say you’re on the road to content success; you’ve got a process that works for you, your content is engaging the right people, and you’re seeing some positive results. That’s fantastic — but if you want to take it to the next level, PR can give you the validation you need.

Consider how much stronger your brand looks and sounds when you’re not the only one writing about how great you are. When influencers and leaders in your space sing your praises in reputable publications, the work you’re doing gets a serious boost of validation and credibility.

3. PR opens the door for more educational content.

Content marketing isn’t meant to be promotional. In fact, blatantly promoting yourself and your brand will get your content rejected by online editors, so you’ve got to create truly engaging and educational content.

The thing is that no matter how much educational content you create, it’s pretty hard to start conversations with your audience if no one really knows about you. That’s what PR is for.

PR is promotional, and it builds awareness about your organization, making your company’s name and brand more familiar. Consistent PR placements and mentions help you reach people and introduce yourself to them, and content allows you to continue that relationship with educational content. And when your PR and content align, it becomes easier for you to build trust and meaningful relationships with your audience.

Whether you’re a content guru or a PR pro, you might never have realized the benefits of bringing these two strategies together. As you prepare for next year, consider launching some experiments to see how you can build your brand and engage your audiences through PR and content marketing.

Tech

AOL Kills Off AIM, In Many Ways a Perfect Product

Software makers would do well to emulate the simplicity, single focus of AIM.

Even people who haven’t used AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM, for years, were distressed to hear that it would be killed on Dec. 15.

I never wanted to leave AIM in the first place, but since Apple stopped supporting it three years ago, it was just too difficult to maintain on a Mac or other Apple device. Yes, there was a complicated workaround, but who had the energy?

AIM was a key go-to communications channel for me for more than five years. That AIM “buddy list” included hundreds of people—friends, colleagues, PR people, and less official sources at various companies. It was the perfect channel for getting a quick quote or confirmation, and then move on. No muss, no fuss, and no need to listen to voice mails.

Why AIM Was Beloved

One AIM buddy was Barry Appelman, one of the AIM developers who launched the service in 1997. Four years later, AIM had 36 million active users. Appelman explained at the time that AOL had debuted AIM around the same time Microsoft started pushing its rival MSN Internet portal and network. AOL’s original goal with AIM was to make its network more interesting to users and not, as some contended, to get existing members to use up more paid online minutes. In its early days, users did pay AOL by the minute, but by the time AIM came around it had gone to a flat monthly fee, Appelman said.

But millions of those AIM users never paid AOL a dime, which probably did not endear AIM to its corporate overlords. AIM was a quick-and-easy (and free) download.

Many of those millions probably got siphoned off to rival chat apps, and many Apple users let AIM go when Apple dropped support.

Related: AOL Instant Messenger is Going Away. Here are Your Options

And Why it Failed

AIM’s prospects weren’t helped by the arrival of me-too chat apps like Yahoo Messenger and Microsoft msft MSN Messenger either. Then there were a number of business-focused versions of chat, like Lotus Sametime (now IBM ibm Sametime.)

The ironic thing there is that many AIM devotees saw its existence outside of corporate IT as a huge benefit, not a flaw. “The day corporate can track my messages, is the day I stop sending them,” one colleague said years ago.

At the same time, Facebook adopted instant messaging by adding Facebook Messenger, another AIM wannabe, to its social network.

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The great thing about AIM, which tech news site TechCrunch referred to as the “pioneering chat app that taught us to text,” was its seeming simplicity and lack of bloat. If you had an Internet connection, it worked.

AIM showed you your Buddy List in a box, and who was available to chat. You could set a “Do Not Disturb” sign or even will yourself invisible by clicking on the little on-screen eyeball. It was a great tool for stalking a buddy.

Compare that to most of today’s desktop apps that seem to do everything except the one thing we want to them to do. Feature bloat makes many modern software products too complicated for mere mortals to use. AIM was the antithesis of that and that’s It’s so sad to hear of its passing at the ripe old age of 20.

Tech