In it for the long run. Why PR and content creation is a marathon and not a sprint
I recently did a 10k run. I’ve run before, but this was my first trail run, and the course was certainly the hilliest I’ve ever attempted. My time was eight minutes slower than my personal best, but as that was run on a flat, tarmac road and this was a multi-terrain course with over 50% hills, I was thrilled with my performance and wore my medal with pride. As I sped (ahem) around the course, a thought struck me. In this world where everything is done – or expected, at least – at lightning speed, sometimes it’s cleverer and more effective to pace yourself. Not to speed ahead and miss the view, but to take in your surroundings, not worry too much about the pace, but to make every step you take count. We certainly apply this to the way we approach content creation and PR for our clients. That’s not to say we can’t, or don’t work quickly, but we are proud about what we develop and deliver and for us, the quality of what we produce is much more important than the time in which we produce it.
PR has changed so much over the 15 years I’ve been working in this field. Once wholly-focused on print coverage and Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE), there were multiple occasions early on in my career where I had to almost apologise to clients for getting their stories on websites, as online PR coverage was perceived as a less glamorous and certainly less valuable poor cousin to glossy column inches. Now of course, the instantaneous nature of the world we live in means that print publications are more often than not obsolete, with a few titles remaining in niche markets, but for the main part ignored in favour of their online equivalents.
What’s more, even mentions in online publications are now being replaced with that over-used, but ever-present term: content. It’s an exciting time to be in the media relations business: firms are now able to fully own and control the material and assets they create. Not only can they determine what they say and to whom, but they can be publisher as well as author. Content hubs and ‘owned’ channels are now the go-to medium for anyone wanting to know about a business, a product or a service, and if your website, twitter feed or LinkedIn profile is not up-to-date, you are destined to fall behind the competition.
In order to maintain the content and practices that are needed to populate and drive traffic to these channels, it’s vital to have PR and marketing support which is steady, regular, and well-planned in advance. Having a clear content strategy and sticking to this over time, with well-researched topic lists and links to issues and topics that matter to your audiences, is crucial. It’s not about instant, rushed responses to ad-hoc opportunities or impulsive, over the top statements. It’s about consistency, knowledge and expert opinion which cements you and your business as a leader in your field. Be the strong, reliable runner that comes in with a solid performance every time, rather than the flash in the pan sprinter who runs out of steam after an initial bid for glory.
After all, reputation is a long-term journey, not a race. You need to work on your technique and your form, not your speed, if you want to get over the line.