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Content Marketing vs. PR: What’s the Difference?

Whether your brand is a large, international company or a small, local firm, publicity can help generate awareness about your business and bring in new customers. The industry never seems to stop, so capitalizing on project progress, company news or industry insights and communicating that information to your audience is key but, the question is, how do you go about accomplishing that?

The answer is to establish a marketing strategy. For many years, public relations (PR) and content marketing have existed in some form — even if these tactics weren’t always labelled as such. 

PR and content marketing can seem quite similar, and it may be a bit difficult to distinguish between the two and decide which marketing strategy is best for your business. While different types of businesses will certainly have different marketing needs and goals, it’s important to understand the distinction between PR and content marketing.

PR is about influencing, engaging, and building a relationship with key stakeholders across numerous platforms to shape and frame the public perception of an organization. Quite frequently, this happens by creating and distributing newsworthy content. Content marketing, on the other hand, is focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. Can be achieved through backlinks, referral traffic, engagement metrics (time on site, social shares, comments, etc.) and lastly, conversions.

Here are a few more ways to differentiate the two:

Who is creating the content?

Traditional public relations is the way to go when you want someone else to write about your brand. Content marketing happens when you want to tell the story.

Who controls the copy? 

When you pitch a story to journalists, you don’t get to approve the final copy and sign off on how they’re positioning your brand or company. With content marketing, you create the copy that appears on your blog or in publications, you basically own this copy.

What’s your angle?

Public relations is when you want promotion or create awareness. Content marketing is used when you want to educate or entertain.

One of the biggest differences between public relations and content marketing is the channels through which it is distributed. For instance, social media content writing services often use the Internet to share information with followers of the business, helping to build a network of people who are interested in what the business has to say. Public relations, on the other hand, is more likely to reach out through local news media and other print avenues. While both of these marketing tactics can use a variety of channels to get the idea across, there are clear differences in the preferred avenues.

Every business needs a public relations strategy, and content marketing is an essential component of that. Providing content that serves the audience, rather than sells, establishes a brand’s value and proves knowledge and experience. The connections a brand makes through good content marketing can also lead to quality promotional treatment by media outlets, which creates a positive loop of coverage and content. 

If you’re weighing the pros and cons of content marketing and public relations, stop asking yourself which you should invest in. Ideally, you’d invest in both. I believe that integrating content marketing with public relations would be one of the best ways to survive in an increasingly crowded digital space. Traditional media can send traffic to digital channels and vice versa which can help achieve better results. For instance, you can pitch your infographics to the media, repurpose columns published in the news to blog posts for your website or use the topics of case studies as the basis for a speech. 

In conclusion, bringing together the real world and the digital world by using both disciplines will be the most effective way to communicate your message. 

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