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Blurred Lines: When Marketing, PR, and Content Overlap

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From social selling to new opportunities with mobile advertising, every marketing organization now has a cornucopia of channels through which to work its magic.

Yet, different channels and opportunities demand different skills, and the effort needed to coordinate all the necessary components and team members is immense. It can be confusing at best, unproductive at worst.

Let's take a simple example: an infographic.

You've compiled the information and applied beautiful design. Now what? You probably have 10 different channels to send it through. Should one person own every channel and strategy for promotion? I mean, it's just a simple infographic, right?

The answer is "no," and here's why.


Your content marketer who created the infographic may not know the ins and outs of expertly targeting social media to drive traffic to the infographic. Your social media maven may not understand why including a link in your email campaign to the infographic is critical to nurturing certain leads. And you might think that blasting the infographic out to a list of media contacts will get the it reposted by top bloggers, but you wouldn't be nearly as successful in securing media coverage as your PR teammate would.

It wasn't always this hard, was it?

More choices and more disciplines mean more room for confusion. But don't worry. Drawing lines in the marketing sand is not as tedious as it sounds.

Here's how Marketing, PR, and Content can work together across four main areas—the PESO model (paid, earned, shared, and owned media)—as well as where they diverge and how to assign responsibilities where they make the most sense.

Paid Media

Paid media has always sat in marketing's wheelhouse. But what about social media advertising or sponsored content? How about syndicating content or sponsoring an influencer's blog?

This is where the lines can get blurry. Generally, it's still best for marketing to own anything where the placement is paid—even syndicated and sponsored. But here's how PR and content can weigh in for bigger success:

  • Run your content syndication list past the content team to find out which posts are already getting the most engagement through the site. While you're talking to them, get their feedback on those "alternate headlines."
  • Share your social media ads with the PR team so they can come up with some complementary social posts that can be published at the same time the ads run.
  • If PR has a general idea of when an article (contributed or feature) on the company will run, to reinforce the message you could tee up display ads that complement the article that same week. (This coordination may be hard to pull off. PR is at the mercy of editors and articles often get pushed back, so try not to get frustrated if things don't sync up. It's not PR's fault.)

Earned Media

Media relations efforts—trying to get mentioned in an article or securing an interview with a media outlet—is pure public relations. The PR team should have experience building and harnessing relationships with influencers, bloggers, and media contacts, so let them handle those efforts.

Do not mistake an ad buy for an "in" with a media outlet. The separation of church and state does still exists in credible media outlets, and you will face repercussions if you try to use an ad buy to get a write-up.

But here's how marketing and content can help PR get more wins per pitch:

  • Have a free-range PR team. In other words, let them roam your company, because they can sniff out a story where no one else can see it. Good PR pros listen to their media contacts and know what those contacts are looking for in a story, an industry expert, and a trend. Your PR team will spot it inside your company if they're given the freedom to explore.
  • Content creators can help write all of those contributed articles the PR team is busy placing. They probably already have the "voice" of the company and its thought leaders down pat.

Shared Media

Shared media is one big gray area, so it's best to approach it from a truly integrated starting point—while being very precise in assigning ownership to each piece of a campaign.

These campaigns are ripe for all kinds of things' falling through the cracks because no one is completely clear on who owns what. To determine that, you can use the other areas' responsibilities as your guide:

  • All shared-media opportunities that include a paid element, such as sponsoring content, should stay with Marketing.
  • PR can take ownership of sharing links to any contributed articles or media hits they've secured. PR can also own any element of shared that involves relationship building with influencers.
  • And who comes up with the messaging for shared media? Well, that's a crap shoot. One common division of labor is to have the PR create the messaging while Marketing manages the actual sharing through various channels. Alternatively, content marketers can get involved in writing copy for shared-media campaigns.
  • And when a customer complains or makes a negative comment on social media, be sure a fourth team member is invited to the party: customer service.

Owned Media

At first glance, it might seem that the marketing team is automatically the best choice to control any organic content and assets that live on the company website or blog. But you'll want to parse your choices, starting with an editorial calendar—built and owned by the content team—that clearly outlines responsibilities and deadlines to keep everyone on track.

For instance, the PR team might be the right choice to write some content assets, which the marketing department then uses in nurture campaigns, social selling, and other areas.

But if there's one area where the content gurus can shine, it's here. So let them do their thing.

That said, here are some ways where owned can become really powerful with the help of their teammates:

  • Content is only half as good if it isn't optimized, which is where Marketing can add a lot of value.
  • Creating content that helps educate and sell is paramount, but creating content that gets media and influencers to take notice is a close second. Let the PR team help in driving content that will grab influencers' attention.

* * *

Successful integration of Marketing, PR, and Content involves a certain amount of organization and communication. Making that effort will keep everyone on track and create a smoother workflow.

By defining skills and responsibilities, setting expectations on measurement, and mapping all of it to your brand's goals, you will save time, capitalize on people's strengths and skills, and boost productivity.

Most important, your campaigns will have the right talent behind them, resulting in stronger impact.


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Aly Saxe is CEO of Iris PR, a cloud-based SaaS platform designed by PR pros for PR pros.

LinkedIn: Aly Saxe

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Comments

  • by Bret Rachlin Thu Mar 17, 2016 via web

    Excellent article, Aly. You provide great examples of how PR and marketing people should collaborate. While there's a potential for professionals to be territorial, especially with regards to content development, it's likely that companies would benefit from cross training their marketing and PR people, so that both groups can recognize opportunities to involve their colleagues. It's great to have domain expertise, but progressive companies will make sure that their team members know enough about other disciplines to bring in experts as needed, increasing the chances of successful campaigns.

  • by James Rendell Sun Mar 20, 2016 via web

    Great article Aly. I agree completely that the plethora of marketing channels at a marketers disposal today means they need to understand how to effectively integrate them to get a maximum benefit. This is why we have seen a rise in inbound marketing as a discipline in recent years. However, purely adopting inbound as a solution doesn't work for everyone either. I wrote a blog article on it recently - hubs.ly/H02q7qV0 I'd love to get your thoughts on it.

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