Is content creation the bottleneck to keeping your social media campaign vibrant and consistently active? 

Learn of free coBy Jim James,

Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast

Compelling content not only strengthens public relations, it creates traffic to a website and social media accounts which will ultimately result in sales leads. The Progress Shed coach Peter Rolliston says that nobody really wants to do PR or have a PR agency; what they really want is sales, and the uncomfortable truth about public relations is that companies suffer the marketing process in order to get those leads and sales, but it doesn’t always have to be like that. 

In a recent survey in Singapore, in the Sunday Times published by SPH, the top five non-essential jobs as polled by over 1,000 readers were number one, artists at 77%, followed by telemarketers at 69%, then social media and PR managers at 61%. When asked which jobs they would not like to do, first came garbage collection, while only 20% said that they didn’t want to be a PR person. In other words, they may not think it’s essential, but they do think it’s a good job to have. 

Companies during COVID times might have to consider cost-cutting and presumably, most businesses don’t have artists on board, and so they outsource telemarketing work to social media and PR managers, as agencies are often considered a luxury. One aspect of the business that is not a luxury, however, is communication with the three main audience groups: internal, partners, and external. It’s a necessity especially at this time, otherwise, it will be even more difficult to get the business noticed. Fortunately, the solution lies in content and content marketing. The role of content is important in any company, because in marketing, everything begins with search and with people going to Google or, in Asia, to Baidu in China. So, unless you’re seeing advertising or sponsorship offline, by and large, most people are looking for things by starting with the search box, and this highlights the significance of content as it’s the content that brings the search engine rankings, both organic and linked.

These platforms will help fill your website with content

One chap called Ronnie Nimjeh said that he grew his stress management practice from zero to 25,000 unique visitors per month to his website, which is pretty impressive, with some simple content marketing techniques all from free Google traffic. In other words, he let the website content do all of the heavy lifting, the drawing in of leads and creating the kind of noise about what he was talking about, in his case, stress management, so that he could bring leads through his funnel to get clients. Ronnie set up a business in 2008 for health and wellness providers called PLR, which stands for Private Label Rights. Basically, people pay to gain access to 14,000+ pieces of content like articles or courses without giving credit to the author. So, for companies that need to have course content or blog content but don’t have the people to author it, you can get it for your site, course, and community by paying a small fee. You can start off by buying a few credits at $0.99 per credit, or you can move up to annual plans of 400, 800, or 2,500 credits. In real numbers, that is around $99 per month, or you can pay up to $900 per year to have unlimited content. With this catalog mainly covering health and wellness but also now expanding to business in coaching, one can easily curate content for the company website. It includes courses that can be monetised as well. For instance, one person took an ebook and made into a five-day challenge in their private Facebook group.

There are a number of other places to get content for free, but they obviously have varying degrees of quality. One is Amazines which has tens of thousands of articles written by aspiring authors and people that would like to provide free sample work so they can eventually be contracted to write longer articles. If you’re looking for media files, pictures, and more, a great one is Wikimedia Commons. On it, there are  62 million freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute, so this is great if you have media files you’d like to upload, share, and have credit for, and these can all be downloaded as well. These articles are of great quality and are made specifically for social media and for customers. If you’re looking for infographics which are a combination of both pictures and text, a good website to find infographics on is Infogram. You can have up to 10 projects with five pages per project for free, and then you can move up from starting at $19 a month. You can also create infographics on a website including Canva and Visme, but Infogram also has some samples there that you can use and download. If you want to create your own content but don’t know where to start, Hubspot, the inbound marketing website, has an interesting tool called the Blog Topic Generator which creates five different headlines for free based on nouns inputted into the tool. 

An interesting platform is The Noun Project. It gas over 2 million curated icons that can be used in PowerPoint presentations, images, videos, or infographics. They’re all nicely laid out and easy to search and download. It’s free to use, and free and paid basic users can get access to all the icons. Where it changes slightly is that if you use them for free, then you have to credit the source, and you can only use them in one color. If you’re willing to pay $39.99 per year, then you can use them in a royalty-free manner, the icons can be downloaded in any color, one gets access to all their apps, and they can be embedded in programs like Adobe, so the Noun Project offers an opportunity to get icons for text, pictures, and more. 

To use articles that have already been written and are on established websites, a good and free service is Scoop.it. Similar to Google, it scours the web to bring you content. It can be used to get a curated list of editorials appearing around the world for one to select, editorialise, and redistribute. To maximise its features, there is also a Business account which allows for resharing of content through your own website with a plugin to WordPress and also through social media channels, making it pretty much a straight-through process. If you’ve defined who your audience is, be it your staff, partners, or customers which make up the three different audience groups, Scoop creates a steady automated stream of curated content of considerable value because it has already appeared in mainstream public occasions and platforms. If you have good content on your website or you’re redistributing other people’s content, where the real benefit comes from in terms of content is if it can be placed in top-ranking websites. This also leads to the question or whether it would be possible to get the company’s articles placed in mainstream media.

What public relations has to do with content creation

There was a case study of Mint software, where they were creating fantastic blog content, but the founders credited their success coming from Gawker Media, the owners of Lifehacker and Gizmodo, because whilst they had great content on their website, they didn’t have anybody looking for them. So, the role of public relations and the consultant that you might hire is to take this great content that was generated through an outsourced provider or content found as a combination of graphics and infographics from various sites and then taking it to where there is traffic, such as websites like Reddit or big mainstream media like the Huffington Post.

The idea of generating content and having it on your website is great and it will help with SEO and inbound marketing, but having created this great product which is this great content, it needs to go where people are. This is the essence of why people want to advertise on big newspapers or television, because what they’re really buying is the audience. So, as you create great content and thought leadership and put that onto a website and social media channels, look at which of that original content can be used to get noticed and to get that pitch to the local editor or journalist because as mentioned before, journalists are very short on time and they’re looking for quality content. That quality content can be generated from one’s own ideas, but prompted and augmented by content from other websites. Moreover, infographics, pictures, and videos complement an article or a piece and bring it to life.

Companies often think about PR, not because they want it but as a necessary evil. However, publicity is the beginning of the sales process. If no one knows about a company, the chance that they’re buying from it are pretty limited, so the goal is to generate awareness, intention, desire, and then action by sharing quality and engaging content across multiple platforms. These are ways that you can either create that yourself, augment it, or buy it to get a steady stream of content in EASTWEST PR’s Active Communications Index. For most entrepreneurs, that’s a huge challenge, but the good news is that there are plenty of platforms and technologies that can make that job a lot quicker, a lot easier, and not any more costly.

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.

Cover Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

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