Thought leadership is a key marketing strategy to help companies grow. But in many organizations, content marketing is handled by either corporate communications (potentially via a PR agency) or by the marketing team. But keeping both teams on the same page for thought leadership efforts is critical to success.
Here are some lessons I’ve seen over the decades to ensure that PR and Content Marketing Teams and their shared efforts (e.g., thought leadership) are executed with excellence.
Lesson 1: Plan Together
There are really two key sides of content marketing planning. The editorial plan (e.g., storytelling frameworks, calendars, etc.) and the distribution strategy (e.g., event speaking, owned platforms, thought pieces in trade journals). Marketing and Corporate communications should really collaborate on planning on both sides to ensure the best return on thought leadership investment.
How do you do this successfully? Workshop it. Content development and distribution should have an annual game plan. Build this game plan across teams not in an operational vacuum. If you plan together, you’ll implement together and both will build on each other.
Lesson 2: Collaborate Systematially
Too often I see the misalignment of priorities between PR and content marketing teams. PR wants to focus on the big tentpole content items (e.g., annual research studies) since that is what they pitch to journalists. Meanwhile, the content marketing team is working on content quantity (e.g., blog posts). And all too often, this quality vs quantity conundrum creates editorial conflict in diligence, voice, etc.
How do you avoid this pitfall, use a shared editorial toolset and review process across both teams? This way the quality tent pole content lives alongside the quantity editorial work and is reviewed by the same “editorial board”. This will lead to consistency in editorial voice, vocabulary, and context. Super important for editorial excellence.
Lesson 3: Execute Together
Lastly, implementing content marketing and PR side-by-side takes enormous collaboration especially in large organizations. Using a shared calendar helps, but also you want to strategically think about the activity between content marketing and PR efforts.
How do you do this well? Stage everything. Meaning, use a repeatable process that time-gates your tentpole content in alignment with your quantity content. For example, let’s say you have a company executive speaking at an industry trade event. That same month your quantity content should be thought leadership on adjacent topics that create an audience to help you evangelize the tentpole content presented at the industry trade event. Maybe even invite that audience to a bespoke event at the industry event to a custom preview with your executive thought leader. Second, if your PR team snags a byline or similar, choose a topic that aligns to – but is not – the topic of the thought leadership content to be presented by the executive at the conference.