All too often, in a short-term bid to grow sales, score votes or generate donations, businesses and organisations neglect the things that underpin the achievement of the commercial goals we so desperately seek.
- INCREASED brand recognition and top-of-mind awareness.
- ENHANCED personal or organisational reputation.
- GROWING influence and authority in the marketplace.
- HEIGHTENED advocacy and loyalty among core buyers and influencers.
- REINFORCEMENT of a credible thought/knowledge/industry leadership positioning in the marketplace or community in which you operate.
A solid combination of these factors will often act as the forerunner to commercial outcomes.
Of course, the definition of ‘commercial outcomes’ will differ from entity to entity –
… a business wants more leads and sales,
… a politician is after votes and positive editorial coverage,
… a nonprofit seeks donations and increased advocacy in the community,
… an employed business professional wants access to better career opportunities in the marketplace.
If we’re going to look at content marketing through a PR lens, we need to tie back to the ever-important 5 VITAL Signs of PR:
(See infographic below for a more detailed explanation of the 5 VITAL Signs of PR).
Building VISIBILITY through content
The content you publish, distribute and amplify can have a significant impact on the degree of visibility your brand has in the marketplace or community in which you operate. But you need to be strategic about it.
Quality content will find an audience.
It gets shared, liked, bookmarked, recommended, commented upon and discussed.
Maybe it gets linked to, or even republished. And sometimes it will find its way up the search engine rankings, where it gets discovered, clicked upon and read/watched/listened to/shared/liked/commented on, and so on and so forth.
All of this, of course, leads to online visibility, or what I like to call strategic omnipresence.
This is when you’re known, recognised and respected for who you are and what you do, and stand for. This is mission critical. If you’re not on people’s radar in the first instance, you’re lagging behind and that can make life pretty tough in a world where infinite choice beckons at the touch of a smartphone.
Growing INFLUENCE through content
Influence comes in many forms and is fuelled in different ways through content, much of it focused around building reputation, credibility and authority in the marketplace, or community.
Content allows individuals, businesses and organisations to build an engaged audience. That brings with it a certain degree of power and influence, depending of course on the size and makeup of their audience and whether or not they can influence them to take action in some way.
People who have built an online platform, who have developed a public profile and an engaged audience off the back of the content they’ve created/curated/published, more often than not will have more influence in the marketplace than your average Joe or Josephine.
While there will always be an assortment of factors at play, ultimately, in much will come down to the content produced.
Sure, the content produced by CEOs, politicians and business leaders might be driven by traditional media by sheer dint of the position they hold, but for the rest of us mere mortals, we need to become our own media channel to get our voice heard.
If your content is smart, relevant, insightful, cogent – you improve the chances of being heard above the din. If not, you’re back with the rest of the herd.
If becoming an influential public voice is important for your cause, issue or business, then a savvy owned media strategy, backed up with an authentic presence on social media, should be the centre of your communications world.
Building TRUST through content
In an era where many businesses and individuals use websites and social media to loudly proclaim to be authorities, experts and thought leaders, it’s the ones who can back it up with a solid body of work of thoughtful, insightful and relevant content who will win at the end of the day.
Why? Because they show, not tell. They demonstrate their professional credentials, or bona fides, via the content they produce on a consistent basis.
Growing and nurturing ADVOCACY through content
At the end of the day, if you want to build advocacy – or what I like to call a ‘village of support’ for your brand, your ideas and the way you go about your business – then you need to show up consistently. But not in a shouty way.
Add value in the form of useful content designed with your audience in mind.
Shine the spotlight on your customers and the people who follow and interact with your brand on a regular basis on social media. Seek their thoughts and ideas and comments. Invite them to create content for you.
Use social media to reach out and acknowledge those in your community.
But above all, develop a culture that recognises the importance of community, and ensure you communicate regularly with those who like and trust you, the people who champion your brand.
Using content to reinforce your LEADERSHIP positioning
True 21st century leadership is about empowerment; articulating a vision and then lighting a path towards that vision, bringing people along for the journey as they buy into the bigger picture that you paint for them.
This is how social movements are born, develop and grow; how businesses expand and thrive, and individuals build passionate followings for their cause, issue or ideas.
But leadership can’t operate in a vacuum. It needs vision, fresh ideas and bold thoughts, backed up with positive action. And this is where content comes in.
Creating and publishing content can help a leader:
- articulate and communicate their vision
- clarify and expand upon their thoughts and ideas
- tell stories that resonate with people (who in turn share with their networks), and
- over time build a narrative that people can buy into.