Highlights of this article:
- Importance of Building a Content Blueprint
- Stakeholders in the Content Blueprint
- Definition of PR
- Role of PR in the Content Blueprint
- Three Recommendations for PR
The Content Blueprint
I was recently working with a client to help them build a content blueprint for their Revenue Marketing practice. The blueprint entailed identifying the stages of the Buyer Journey, identifying key prospect personas and when and how they acted on that Buyer Journey, identifying what content type is needed at each stage of the Buyer Journey, what content type is preferred by each persona at each stage of the Buyer Journey and in what channels, and finally, how does all of this content get created. In the room we had key people from the revenue marketing team, a few sales representatives and some folks from the web team. Each person in the room had a vested interest in this content blueprint and believed that content is instrumental to effective Revenue Marketing. They all believed (and rightly so) that the company that is having an on-going digital dialog with both prospects and customers at all stages of the Buyer Journey, is the company with a competitive advantage. The Revenue Marketing team needs the content blueprint so they can effectively create and execute campaigns – both nurture and trigger. The sales team has a very good sense for how their customers take this journey – the content they find effective and the channels they use for gaining access to this content. Their interest is to use content to qualify a prospect. The web team has a vested interest as they want the best performing website possible and this means highly engaging and targeted content offers at all stages of the Buyer Journey, for all personas, and across all channels.
I’ve probably run the content blueprint workshop 30-40 times and I have never seen PR participate during or after. This seems to me to be a flaw in the process when you consider the role of content in the Buyer Journey and the purpose of PR. Let’s examine the role of PR and content and then take a look at a few steps to address this process gap.
According to the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) the working definition of PR is
“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
This definition was re-done in 2012 (using crowd sourcing and public vote) based on the evolving role of PR in large part due to technology. The earliest definitions of PR emphasized press pagentry and publicity, while more modern definitions incorporate the concepts of “engagement” and “relationship building.”
Simple and straightforward, this definition focuses on public relations as a communication process; a process that is strategic in nature and emphasizes “mutually beneficial relationships.”
“Process” is a better term to use in modern PR than “management function.” Management function today evokes ideas of control and top-down, one-way communications.
“Relationships” relates to public relations’ role in helping to bring together organizations and individuals with their key stakeholders. This is a key term for today’s PR team.
“Publics” is preferable to “stakeholders,” as the former relates to the very “public” nature of public relations, whereas “stakeholders” has connotations of publicly-traded companies.
Role of PR in the Content Blueprint
So, now that we have a working definition of PR that emphasizes relationships this implies that PR needs this content blueprint to understand who are the stakeholders, how they can influence the relationships on the Buyer Journey through the content they produce and the channel in which they work. This means that every PR piece that goes out needs to be treated just like a campaign – who is this message for, why will it resonate, what channel will we use, what is the call to action. This requires a customer focus or twist to PR, not a company focus. Let me give you an example.
There are all kinds of reasons to do a press release – new product release, new partnership, new acquisition, etc. Let’s take a new product release and see how PR can use this as a strategic content play. Any PR answers the basic questions of what, who, why, when, and how. For the PR team gathering this information, a product press release may need to influence multiple personas. It will need to influence the product end-user. It will need to influence the product decision maker. It will need to influence the company’s distribution channel. It will need to influence the business owner or executive. AND, each of these personas will probably gain access to this information through different channels. The end-user may see it in a forum, the decision maker may see it in a forum or an email, the channel may see it through a blog feed, and the business owner may see it through an email push. The call to action in the press release will provide valuable information to marketing about who is showing interest in this content and at what stage they are on the Buyer Journey. If the call to action is to get the spec sheet for the new product and the product decision maker responds to this call to action, you might assume they are further along on the Buyer Journey and this call to action would result in an alert to your sales team. This is just one example that illustrates how PR needs to think about a press release as a piece of content designed to engage with key stakeholders.
- If you are the PR team, go talk to your demand generation team and see what they have in the way of personas and a Buyer Journey.
- Work with the demand generation team on your next few press releases to understand how to create compelling content for your identified stakeholders, how to employ smart calls to action, and how to push qualified leads to sales
- Start tracking your conversion rates from the calls to action. PR is as much a part of demand generation as any campaign.
How does your PR team relate to your demand generation team and how have they collaborated with you in the creation of your Content Blueprint? I’d love to hear about it!