How to gather insights for your content marketing for PR program
Any time you embark on a content marketing for PR plan, it’s advisable to start watching and listening to what’s going on in and around your virtual world. Not just a cursory scan of the interwebs: I’m talking full immersion and discovery.
The goal here is to arm yourself with information about what your company or organisation has done and is doing currently in terms of publishing content, including on social channels, plus broaden your view of what’s going on in your particular space.
If you are already producing longer form content, conduct a content audit to find out what has been working and what hasn’t. Establish a benchmark across metrics such as web traffic, referral sources, numbers of downloads, social shares etc.
Review what has already been published: if there is content that is way off the mark from where you are currently, to the point where it might actually be confusing people about who you are and what you do as an organisation, consider deleting it. You can revisit this action once you’ve gone through the strategic process and have a clearer vision of what you want to achieve.
Consider auditing the content efforts — or lack thereof — of your key competitors:
- What are they doing, how well are they doing it, and what impact do you think they’re having with the content they’re producing?
- Do they have a consistent perspective and point of view?
- Are they establishing an informational foothold in a specific niche or segment within the broader industry in which you both operate?
- Do they look like they know what they’re doing?
If you haven’t been producing content and you’ve got a clean slate, the competitor content audit is a good place to start.
However, and I say this often, try and not get too hung up on what your competitors are doing. It’s important that you run your own race when it comes to content marketing for PR. Your business or organisation is unique, with its own goals, opportunities and challenges.
Don’t get suckered into copying your competitors from a content perspective. Just be cognisant of what they’re doing so you can start differentiating your brand through the content you produce.
Given the critical role social media plays in content marketing for PR overall, it’s prudent to take a step back and review what your brand is doing in the social sphere as well.
Again, establish some benchmarks. Are people interacting with your brand? Are they sharing your content, and if so, how much is this increasing the reach of your brand?
Critically, look at tone of voice, consistency of output and the quality of the content you’ve been publishing. Is what you’re putting out on the socials doing your brand justice in terms of cohesive messaging and imagery?
As per content audit, you may want to extend your review to what your competitors are doing on their social channels.
Social listening — watching and observing, delving deep on the web — can unearth some terrific insights for your content marketing for PR efforts.
Preferably this is something you do as a matter of course, but it’s particularly useful to put in a big effort from the outset and then maintain as a habit over time.
What’s being said about your brand in the marketplace?
If you’re a bigger brand, there could be quite a bit. If you’re a smaller business, not so much, but still worth keeping an eye on.
Looking more broadly, what’s being said about your industry sector, your profession, your cause or issue?
Dedicate some time for this exercise. Go deep. Become a virtual bowerbird, cherry-picking informational fragments that over time might provide some inspiration and meaning.
At this point, we’re just gathering information and letting it percolate. I call this ‘slow research’.
Allow yourself to free-fall down online ‘rabbit holes’ if need be, as quite often that’s where the magic lies in terms of ideas and insights. Pick up on the little things. These might be the source of interesting content ideas down the track.
It’s quality we’re after, not just a stack of useless data points. Keep an eye on the big picture. Try and join the dots. Do you see any patterns emerging?
Pay attention to the nuances of what’s being said and written about. Is it positive, negative or neutral? Just as importantly, identify and investigate further those people who are leading the online discussion around key topics of interest relevant to your brand.
If they’re on Twitter, segment them into a private Twitter List.
Do they publish a blog? If so, subscribe.
Like their Facebook Page if they have one.
Follow or connect with them on LinkedIn. The goal is to gather insights and ideas, identify potential trends as well as get a better handle on potential customers/donors/advocates and the people who influence them.
There are a plethora of online tools available to help you in your quest for insights. Some of these tools are free, some you need to pay for. Here are some you might like to check out:
- Twitter’s ‘search’ function (free)
- Facebook’s ‘search’ function (free)
- Answer the Public (free)
- Reddit (free)
And of course, there is always Google Analytics to dig deeper into data on your own website.
Searching for keywords around your industry generally might provide some insights you can incorporate into your overall thinking.
One quick and easy way to see what people are seeking on Google is to take note of what pops up as you type your query into the search engine. If you want to go a bit deeper with your keyword research, here are some tools to consider:
- Moz Keyword Explorer
- Google Keyword Planner
- Keywords Everywhere (a free browser add-on for Chrome and Firefox that shows search volume for keywords)
Social media monitoring
Basic social media monitoring tools can also be useful in the initial research phase, as well as ongoing e.g.
If you work for a large organisation, you might consider using a more heavy-duty media monitoring, business intelligence and social analytics service. For example:
Services such as the ones above will, to varying degrees, help you round out your research, particularly in terms of what people, including influencers and the media, are saying about your profession, industry or community, and associated topics, trends and issues.
Spending time upfront in the research phase will better guide your planning efforts when it comes to developing a content marketing for PR strategy for your brand.