Why content is king

PR expert Raman Sehgal on the shift in the way publicity-hungry businesses interact with the press and the value of good content in the battle for coverage.

“What’s the point in PR if no one reads newspapers anymore?”

That was it. That was the comment that set me off. Thankfully the rant happened in my head. I think the misguided man would have cried if I’d articulated what I was thinking to his face.

It did however get me thinking, which really hurts. Is that what people actually think? Do well-educated, smart business professionals think that PR professionals are just one -dimensional, focused on the traditional press?  Or that we simply live in our creative bubbles, ignorant to what the world thinks of us?!

With 2013 well underway, it seems a fitting time to tell you why PR will be fundamental to marketing and business communications strategies going forward. Just two words sum it up quite nicely - Content Creation.

For years and years, PR folk have been doing something quite simple – digesting some info and then creating an angle to make it sound like the most wonderful thing in the world. Even if it’s the dullest subject in the world, good PR people can make content relevant and interesting to a specific audience. The best PR pros can do this with anything...Anything! There’s no such thing as a boring subject; just boring minds.

So, where PR professionals might have once created just a press release for the traditional media, today that same content can be chopped, changed and recycled an incredible amount for other relevant platforms and audiences. The content might ultimately be the same, but the way you hook in a journalist, blogger, social media follower, potential customer or a search engine are very different.And who should manage those 160 character dialogues? That’s right, PR pros of the world. The people you employ to promote and protect your reputation should 100% be looking after your social media strategy.

Good content and keywords should also be used to create your company LinkedIn profile for instance. And as more and more journalists are now using LinkedIn as a platform for research, sources and stories, media contacts just might come knocking. The same can be said for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc. but the key is to make sure your content e.g. picture, profile and updates is relevant to that platform. Don’t just copy and paste. Uncle Google does not like replicate content either.

Strong content will not only get people to your website (supporting search engine optimisation (SEO) activities) but will also keep them there. And more than ever, user experience is vital as the chances are, if they like what you’ve got to say, they’re more likely to follow you via social media. And for goodness-sake, have a mobile friendly site.

Real-time information now rules the world. So if you can craft content that can effectively reach the right audience at the right time, then you’ll rule the world too - well, kind of. And although words are important, make sure you have a nice bunch of relevant images to accompany each piece of content. Each one is worth a thousand words you know? Even better, get your content on video and uploaded to YouTube too – vlogging is the new blogging.

As you can see, the lines between PR, social media and SEO are seriously blurring.  Ensuring content is recycled for blogs/vlogs, online posts, social media platforms etc.while being keyword rich is as important as ever. Again, a digital PR professional can easily and seamlessly interlace SEO keywords into content. So that same content that got you on the radio and the lead headline in the business press might also being shared via social media, being read by people on their mobile via a daily bulletin app and generating quality keyword-rich inbound links into your website. Simple but genius.

So yes, less people might be reading traditional newspapers, which I think is very sad. But in reality, people are reading, watching and listening to so much more than they ever did before. Yes it might seem a tad “info overload” but people only tune in to things that interest them. And wherever and whatever they tune-in to, top PR folk need to ensure their clients’ products or services are in the mix. So go on, what you waiting for? #gocreatecontent

Raman Sehgal runs Newcastle-based PR and marketing agency Ramarketing (www.ramarketingpr.com).