PR is an integral part of a business's marketing strategy; however, sometimes friction occurs between marketing and PR teams as a consequence of their misunderstanding what each side's goals are.
As the VP of Marketing for a PR technology company, I've been able to see both sides of the issue firsthand; and I believe that for true business success, both sides need to understand each other's perspectives and purposes. When that happens, PR and marketing teams can harness each others' strengths to generate positive press and sales leads for a company, ultimately leading to a flourishing business.
I've come up with four tips that have worked for me to help bridge the gap between Marketing and PR.
1. Bear in mind that PR isn't another word for 'ad'
A PR pro's objective is to maintain a company's public image by inserting it into the news cycle. That could mean anything from a single quotation in an article for a major publication to a full feature on the company itself.
PR pros accomplish this by pitching story ideas to journalists to demonstrate why someone at the company would be a good resource for a particular topic, or why the company is a leader in a certain industry.
Many marketing pros become frustrated when their PR reps don't write a pitch that doesn't explicitly promote the company. However, marketers need to keep in mind that journalists write news stories, not promotional pieces, and that PR teams need to work within that constraint.
By understanding that, marketers can work with PR to come up with interesting angles to enable their company to be present in the news cycle and to be a part of the conversation of the day.
2. Be transparent with metrics
One of the largest challenges facing PR pros is how to explain to their client or organization the value of what they provide.
Sure, getting mentioned in the Wall Street Journal is nice, and having a profile written about the company on TechCrunch generates credibility, but none of that matters to the C-suite if those execs don't see how it affects their bottom line. Unfortunately, most PR pros are unable to provide such data.
Marketers need to show PR people how to use various benchmarks, such as objectives and key results (OKRs) and key performance indicators (KPIs). Marketers have the tools to measure increases in traffic to a website, the number of content downloads, and even the number of leads being generated. They can then correlate those numbers with PR pros to the time a piece of earned media was published to determine the actual monetary gain from a particular article or interview.
By working together in such a way, PR teams can give actionable metrics to their clients and organizations to demonstrate their effect on the company.
3. Take the 'content alley-oop' approach
Today's modern audience is leaving legacy media in droves and moving to other sources of news such as podcasts and blogs. Those types of media aren't as interested in dry press releases and company news; they instead focus on publishing and covering stories that their audiences want to hear and read. That's because, just like any business, those publications need revenue, and to get that revenue they need eyeballs reading their stories and ears listening to their interviews.
To take advantage of the new way of doing PR, content marketers and public relations teams need to work together on owned content. Whenever a company creates a blog or LinkedIn post for itself, it should also be working with PR people to create a thought-provoking bylined article or pitch for a media outlet. The more interesting, thought-provoking, and outside-the-box content the teams can come up with together, the more likely the piece is to be covered.
In that way, content marketers "toss up" the piece and PR pros "slam dunk" it into a podcast or as a bylined article.
4. Pitch to the needs of customers
PR teams always need to keep the needs of the journalist in mind, and they should pitch stories that actually have some news value. However, something that those teams typically ignore—or simply don't understand—are the needs of the organization's customers.
The point of placement shouldn't just be placement for placement's sake, but to get the right eyeballs on the story. For instance, a mention in an industry trade publication may be more valuable for a company than a quotation in the Washington Post because an organization's target audience is more likely to be reading the industry trade.
Open communication is key. Marketers should be clear with PR teams about where they want to be published, because the right people need to be made aware of the company so the right leads can be generated. Marketing teams shouldn't shy away from providing PR pros with a "wish list" of publications they want to be in. That can help focus PR efforts while providing the PR team an understanding of what success looks like for the company. \
After all, marketing and PR success leads to business success, and that can only happen if everyone works together.
More Resources on How Marketing and PR Work Together
How PR Can Support Your Marketing Lightning Strike
How Marketing and Comms Can Team Up on Earned Media [Infographic]
A PR Primer for Marketers: Five Steps to Bigger Buzz [Webinar]
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