Now everyone is a media creator. Anyone can make an Instagram account, set up a Facebook page, send a tweet out. Surely that lowers the barrier to entry. If you can easily create your own media, you don’t need journalists and public relations agencies to help you, right?
If that were true, then the PR industry would be irrelevant. But, that’s not what has happened. In fact, there’s more demand for it than ever before. Especially in a post COVID world.
As a higher education institution, you need to make sure your name, brand and key messages are available for the world to see in order to maintain your reputation and ultimately increase your applications. Especially in these uncertain times.
Public relations connects you with media gatekeepers, puts your institution in the media spotlight and ultimately makes sure your story is being told. But it uses different approaches than in the days when traditional advertising was the norm. Content marketing needs PR and don’t be fooled, PR is not going anywhere.
So, why do content marketing and PR work so well together?
Content marketing, as defined by the Content Marketing Institute, is ‘a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.’
Both PR and content marketing as strategic approaches aim to reach designated audiences in a win-win way. So how do they work together?
Of course, the key to success is not just pumping out a lot of "stuff." Content marketing needs to be based on a strategic action plan, whereby you pinpoint your key messages and your target audience, and then determine the best methods to connect those messages with that audience.
But how do you that? Well this is where a PR agency comes in.
As PR agents we are always helping our clients shape the content that’s created online. As experienced and professional PR agents we know the stories which are worth telling and the stories which are not. By taking advice from a PR agent you can make sure only the most powerful stories are used. We really know how to filter out the good from the bad and make sure no time is being wasted.
PR is all about reaching out to the right people. PR agencies create and maintain relationships with editors and journalists. Once a PR agent has helped you picked a story or thought leadership article which really reflects and highlights the brilliant work being done at your university, they can make sure it gets all the attention it deserves. If you combine PR with content marketing then all those ready-made stories will be put into the hands of all the right journalists and editors. You can give your content the powerful boost it needs to go viral.
Speaking of powerful stories… We helped Vlerick Business School tell one of their most romantic stories. Maria Garcia Salmones and Oliver Regidor met while studying for an EMBA at Vlerick Business School’s Brussels campus. They live in Brussels with their son and plan to start a company together one day. The Financial Times covered their romantic story and it again emphasises the close knit and familiar class sizes that Vlerick boast. If a prospective MBA student is looking for love, friendship, or simply support, this might just persuade them to apply for Vlerick Business School.
Brand message consistency
It’s a PR professional’s job to know and even predict the latest trends in the media. This means that PR agents can work with you to predict the next big thing and make sure your content marketing is ‘newsworthy’.
All of your branded communications should be aligned to maximise and reinforce your value proposition, brand identity and brand personality. Public relations agencies can work together to make sure the tone of the brand is consistent. There must be unity between the key themes and topics to discuss with a defined editorial calendar. This way we ensure that the content is released at the right time, making sure it garners the most attention and fits in with the messages of the institution.
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 people on an emotional level and the narrative of content marketing can provide a vehicle for both facts and stories that matter to you and your perspective students. These messages can be amplified and strategically positioned with the help of a PR agency.
PR professionals know that with all the noise on the internet, they have to go the extra mile to stand out. And it’s safe to say that content marketing content and PR need each other. I’d go so far as to say that it’s a marriage made in heaven.