Customer-obsessed marketing

The Role of PR in Content Marketing and Thought Leadership

Laura Ramos
Vice President, Principal Analyst
May 7, 2013

After hosting a Forrester webinar on April 25 about "3 Ways To Turn Content Marketing into Thought Leadership", I received some interesting questions from clients. I thought I would share the questions — and a short response to each – since this line of inquiry points to broader question about the role of public relations (PR) in content marketing generally and thought leadership marketing specifically.

Here's the Q&A I found intriguing:

Who should lead the IDEA framework process?

For those of you who haven't seen the report, it builds upon a concept Jeff Ernst introduced in June 2011 – a framework called "IDEA" that CMOs should use to lead, and assess, their thought leadership content publishing activity. To make the IDEA process a company-wide undertaking (and not just a marketing program) the executive team, headed up by the CEO, should endorse and back it. The CMO should lead the initial efforts and then appoint a Thought Leadership "czar" to keep the editorial process going.Forrester's Four-Step IDEA Framework For Thought Leadership Marketing

Who should head up the editorial oversight board?

The CMO initially, who turns the reigns over to the "czar". A visible exclusive owner can overcome organizational inertia and politics that stifle thought leadership. This leader should keep the editorial calendar up-to-date, chair regular meetings with the oversight board, dole out support to contributors so that publications flow consistently, provide incentives, and keep track of success metrics across the company.

Who should qualify or contribute to the assessment of subject matter experts?

Besides marketing, business heads of organizations that touch customers on a daily basis should have a say in selecting spokespeople and SMEs. After all, it’s their people who will be on the hook to produce the ideas and viewpoints behind the content.

How should B2B marketers go about engaging buyers and sharing their thought leading ideas?

By publishing their big ideas and unique points of view to the world without an expectation of immediate commercial return.  Where and how you do that depends on where your intended audience (remember the “I” in IDEA?) goes for their information.

Where does PR fit into the thought leadership framework?

I think that the practice of developing content, some of which may become thought leading, on important topics your clients and target prospects face is a practice with which digitally savvy PR people will have a strong affinity.  Let’s take a closer look at the definition of PR:

public relations (noun)

1. the actions of a corporation, government, individual, etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc.

2. the art, technique, or profession of promoting such goodwill.

Isn’t the publishing of audience-relevant, business focused content an act of goodwill? Yes, but only if the marketers keep the selling out of the mix.

I think Rich Edelman would agree since he tackled this topic in a recent post on the new look of PR. In this Age of the Customer, marketers must move from selling to an audience to building relationships and trust across a community of stakeholders. And the advantages of PR to stimulate conversation, engage in two-way interactions, and develop interesting storylines that involve the intended audience are a natural fit for creating great marketing in this new digital world.

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