October 27, 2011 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
A solid content strategy combines the best of three worlds: search engine optimization (SEO), public relations and marketing. Alone, each is a fundamental process for advancing a business’ brand awareness and market share. With the move to digital media, the three functions have become so interwoven that it’s nearly impossible for one to exist without the others. And it’s based almost exclusively on a quality content strategy.
According to MarketingPower.com, the American Marketing Association defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” This function is primarily carried out through content: written, spoken and visual.
Public relations, in turn, relies nearly exclusively on content to obtain media placements and generate discussion around an organization. PR professionals must now be digitally savvy in order to succeed in today’s environment; placements and mentions on blogs and online outlets are in many cases more valuable than placements in traditional media without an online presence. Many well-known media outlets, such as Mashable.com, don’t have a print presence at all.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is an overall web strategy involving internal site structure, proper keyword usage and both internal and external link structures. Industry experts advise public relations professionals to optimize press releases in order to increase the odds of achieving unsolicited placements.
Content plays a huge role in the function of SEO. Content, especially relevant, frequently-updated content, is attractive to the search engines. It’s possible, but much more difficult, to create a website with a high SEO value without a significant amount of relevant, keyword-rich content.
We use content daily. We read content in newspapers, magazines, journals and of course the World Wide Web. Through website content, blogs, articles, press releases, even videos and podcasts, we can connect with our clients and customers. Messages that public relations pros and marketing managers once worked tirelessly to deliver to the right audience are now delivered seamlessly and instantaneously through the web.
Content strategy now serves such a predominant purpose in SEO, public relations and marketing that many content marketing experts are bringing their traditional PR and marketing backgrounds to the table. And that experience is valuable; after all, you’re still trying to connect with the same audience those professionals know so well.
A content marketing strategist with roots in any or all of these industries brings together a unique combination of expertise, with a thorough understanding of how each of these functions performs alone in the offline world, as well as how they translate to the content marketing field.
As a professional with an advertising, marketing and PR background who came to the world of online content many years ago, learning SEO and social media marketing practices along the way, I’m often asked to describe what it is that I do. I recently took on a business partner with a similar background, and for a time, she found it extraordinarily difficult to explain to family and friends what exactly she’d be doing on “the internet.”
Our solution? We offer content marketing services, which brings together a combination of best practices in SEO, marketing and public relations as one cohesive campaign.
Did we invent a new profession? Certainly not. There are other qualified professionals in this industry who do what we do, and do it well. But as the world of online marketing evolves, a need is emerging for identification of this profession, and content marketing is essentially it. A large portion of what any internet professional does is focus on delivering content that will improve SEO, deliver marketing messages and gain placements and relevant backlinks across the web. The result brings theories and practices common to the marketing, public relations and SEO industries together as one cohesive unit.
The next time you’re developing a content strategy, or hiring a content marketing specialist, give thought to the value these related industries bring to the table, and consider how you can merge the three into the wonderful hybrid called content marketing.
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