Where Does PR Fit Into Content Marketing?

A recent study answered the question “How often does content marketing really work?” with “almost never”. We were intrigued because the company behind the study was software maker InboundWriterso last week we spoke with CEO Skip Besthoff to help answer an alternate question: how can we make content marketing work?
We’ve covered InboundWriter in the past because the purpose of its “predictive analytics” software is to assist in the optimization and placement of content for clients via established best practices. InboundWriter’s tools help estimate how well each specific piece of original content will perform in terms of traffic and search results, and Besthoff’s recently released update comes primarily in response to Google’s recent algorithm changes:

“Google wants original, authoritative content that improves user experience for people searching for information. So in the marketing industry, there’s an increasing focus on high-quality content.”

So why should PR be interested? InboundWriter’s rep Natasha Grach explains:

“My job is to maximize exposure, and this product is all about grooming content for maximum exposure. As a PR professional of nearly 10 years, I can tell you that a major chunk of my work revolves around developing content for clients: press releases, blog posts, case studies, social media content, etc. This is especially true in recent years, as PR responsibilities have begun to include corporate blogging and content development for purposes of content marketing, etc.”

So how can InboundWriter it help us do that work more effectively? Besthoff says:

“As more content is created, the industry needs more accurate data to optimize it. But tools like Google search, analytics and adwords are very crude; they’re designed for digital marketers rather than editorial professionals. They are like hammers while InboundWriter is a nail gun: precise.”

For example, while the old version could help users gauge the ability of a headline to drive traffic and SEO, one new feature that will be especially relevant to PR is the ability to test how a given piece of content will fare when published on different websites:

As Besthoff puts it, “One of the factors with great influence over content performance is where it’s being published: is it a strong or weak site? Is it a site seen to be authoritative on a given topic?”
We all appreciate that question, but of course you have to choose the right topic and language as well. Besthoff says:

“‘Topic research’ helps publishers like HuffPo and Bleacher Report tailor editorial for maximum impact using data they can’t get on the web. They have their own unque internal review systems while Inbound offers ours to the public at large.”

InboundWriter is “not in the business of telling people what to write”, but the software’s algorithm can also help PR and marketing improve—in performance terms, at least—the copy within our articles.

“Our software gives guidance like suggesting a ‘focus term’ that will clarify the topic at hand. Titles that are obvious to readers can be confusing for search engines, so the software will suggest recurring terms/phrases that will make the subject clearer to Google. You can also use it to test the search effectiveness of relevant terms and experiment with where to place these terms within your headline and body copy.”

Natasha says that the software can be relevant to PR even if they don’t write all the content themselves.

“People often approach me for recommendations to improve their blog content, and the software can help me do that.
As strategists on messaging who, at times, become content producers themselves, PR professionals play an important role in content marketing. We should know the latest strategies and technologies in making content perform, how to measure results and know where a given company’s content efforts can compete with the sea of content that’s already out there.”

Besthoff concludes, “We want to let people make more insightful decisions about how to compose and place content”—whatever their situation or budget might be.
What do we think? Has anyone used InboundWriter or similar content-focused analytics software?

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.