Remember when you were a kid looking for shiny rocks, or maybe frogs? Sometimes, a cool one was right in front of you... and you still missed it. Other times you'd step back... and suddenly there it was! That can be such a great feeling.

Today, as a marketer, you might have in your hands the keys to a treasure chest of great content... but you just need a little help finding the lock.

PR people—whether in-house or external—often excel at creating content. Their daily work can yield a ton of information for blogs, social media posts, email alerts, newsletters, etc. So I'm often surprised to hear marketing managers describe what their PR people do—but not mention them as content resources.

Stepping back and looking at things a little differently can help you find treasure you didn't know you had—without weighing down your team or running up the bill. Here are some of my personal favorites for finding content gems.

Awards nominations can be a gold mine. Entering awards that media outlets host or sponsor often guarantees earned-media coverage for the winners. Plus, those questions on the entry forms about a person's background or community activities open up entirely new avenues of information. They take a lot of time and effort to complete, so you want to get the most from them that you possibly can.

Circulating completed and approved entries to marketing, social media, and content creation staff can spark all kinds of excitement:

  • "I didn't know Alex launched a nonprofit. I could write a blog post with what I have right here!"
  • "Louise closed that many deals last year? That's a great 'would you believe' item for the Facebook page!"
  • "These regulations Reggie's researching look pretty big. Maybe we should do a webinar or email alert..."

The process works the other way, too: If the awards entries are prepared by the marketing team, share the entries with the PR folks. The details in an entry for one of my clients gave me the information I needed to land her a great TV interview.

Is PR hiring a photographer or videographer for an upcoming event? Those professional-quality images—whether of a new office, sales event, or a client reception—could go into a photo stream, YouTube channel, blog, or newsletter. Just be sure the photographer understands the game plan ahead of time, in case her contract doesn't cover it; and if you plan to use the shots in a sales brochure or presentation, be sure the subjects sign photo releases.

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image of Terri Thornton

Terri Thornton is founder of Atlanta-based PR firm Thornton Communications. A former TV and radio reporter and producer, she also contributes to PBS MediaShift, and she is a freelance editor for two accounting publications.

Twitter: @TTho