It’s that time of year again – planning season. B2B marketers are developing their PR and content strategies and, of course, budgets.
Notice I said budgets – not budget.
What’s with that? Your PR and content strategies work together, so why silo them?
The fact of the matter is, it’s hard to anticipate exactly how much budget you’ll need for PR versus content development. And don’t count on last year’s numbers to provide a reliable guide. That was last year. New challenges (and opportunities) will inevitably arise. Moreover, budgeting for content is difficult because it touches every marketing function from sales enablement to branding, meaning the demand can be huge.
If you combine your PR and content development budgets, you can allocate your resources more effectively, save money, increase efficiency and proactively plan your activities in a way that will improve and integrate your overall marketing program.
From a high-level, here are six key steps to get started down this path.
- Take stock.
Evaluate history, data and qualitative feedback from inside and outside your organization and identify specific wins. This will help you build on previous successes and prioritize initiatives.
- Create a calendar of key business initiatives.
While you can’t predict everything your team will need to deliver, there are usually several key business initiatives that are set by sales, product management and your leadership. Document those initiatives and any additional timely opportunities to integrate campaigns.
- Plan for continuous PR vs. sporadic projects.
While major “news” events (e.g. product launches, key conferences or events) are typically great opportunities for a PR announcement, a purely episodic approach to PR will typically deliver only marginal results and, in the end, this sporadic PR investment will often deliver questionable ROI. Taking a more holistic, annual approach to PR that includes a series of news events throughout the year, as well as a continuous PR/thought leadership program that integrates with your other marketing channels, will inherently reduce your costs and increase your effectiveness.
- Account for building a thought leadership platform.
Most companies have a common gap in authentic thought leadership. They build a strong mission and vision, but then it falls apart in your content when you focus on product features and benefits. Your content needs to deliver upon your company’s commitment to the mission and vision beyond product specifics. What expertise, insights, knowledge and overall value can you deliver to your audience to help them do their jobs better or to make your vision a reality? That’s the foundational narrative your content and PR programs should be built upon.
- Fund customer journey mapping.
Marketers must develop content that helps customers satisfy their information needs at each stage of consideration. It’s critical to assess what information prospects need to move through the funnel. By budgeting for a program that delivers content to support the customer journey, you will be developing a library of assets that can be used in multiple ways, reducing other marketing costs and providing significant value.
- Invest in pillar content.
Your thought leadership platform and customer journey map will indicate the topics for pillar content (e.g. white papers, eBooks, guides, etc.) that will help advance your company’s point of view. Plan to develop at least one anchor piece for each key initiative. Making this investment can streamline your marketing efforts and save marketing costs because pillar content can also be repurposed into different formats, such as video, blog posts and social posts, and can be delivered through multiple channels to build an entire three- to six-month long campaign.
Now is the time to lay the foundation that allows your PR and content strategies to increase customer engagement, drive and enhance brand loyalty, and ultimately influence buyer behavior. Strategically budgeting ensures you’re aligning with major business initiatives, as well as delivering value to customers and prospects. For a more comprehensive guide to 2019 budgeting, download “A strategic approach to content budgeting.”