In December 2009, Forrester defined what it called the three new media options for interactive marketers: “paid, earned and owned.” Earned media had traditionally been the responsibility of public relations, while paid and owned media had been part of the marketing mandate.
In the meantime, the rise of shared or social media complicated things further. Was it a function of PR? Marketing? Customer service?
Now, more than three years later, it’s clear that PR, advertising and marketing have changed forever and that working together is the best tool these disciplines have in getting their brand’s message heard above the noise.
From converged media to content marketing
In response to the Altimeter group’s white paper on “converged media” last summer, Jeremiah Owyang took a stab on his blog at defining the new workflow for paid, earned, owned and shared media. “Today, advertising, corporate content, and social content is often separated,” Owyang wrote, “but tomorrow, we expect these circles to converge and overlap, with little or no separation.”
Meanwhile, as The New York Times recently reported, the popularity of online pay-per-click advertising like Google AdWords has driven up the cost of a visit to a brand’s website. Keywords that once cost $1 per click now can cost as much as $20 per click.
All these factors have prompted brands to turn toward content marketing as a way to supplement traditional online advertising (if that’s not an oxymoron) – at a much lower price point. In fact, a study by the Content Marketing Institute claims that 25 percent of B2B marketing budgets are now spent on content marketing and that more than 50 percent of those marketers plan to increase their spend in 2013.
However, that same CMI study shows that the biggest challenge for marketers is producing enough content.
The new story marketing cycle
With social media, marketers have more (and cheaper) access to their communities and customers than ever, but it’s hard to keep up with the demand for quality content.
That’s why PR, marketing, communications and customer service have to work together to achieve their goals through a new story marketing cycle that involves content curation, creation, optimization and amplification:
Curating content allows brands to develop story ideas, stay on top of industry trends and establish an authoritative voice that resonates with their communities. The trick is to develop a group of content creators across functions that consistently shares interesting articles, posts, videos and more with each other – and then your clients or customers.
Creating content involves everything from traditional marketing content like white papers, collateral and ads to owned media content like blog posts, infographics and videos. Marketing and PR teams will need to work together to create compelling content that serves customers across all platforms and channels.
Optimizing content both for search (basic keyword SEO and linking strategies) and social (ensuring content is easy to re-tweet, post to Facebook or Pinterest) makes finding, sharing and digesting content as easy as possible for your audience. All the content that PR and marketing teams produce can be optimized. The key is to share strategies, tips and keywords across the silos.
Amplifying content through organic social sharing, traditional media relations outreach and online paid opportunities is the key to ensuring that your message isn’t getting lost in the noise. PR is typically responsible for social sharing and media outreach, but marketing can power that content through paid opportunities and e-mail marketing.
This isn’t an easy process and the best way for a brand to achieve success is for the professionals that manage paid, earned, owned and social media communications to work together to develop an integrated – and effective – content strategy.