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PR Takes Its Place at Content Marketing World Week

Photo credit: Cristian Escobar

To wrap up Content Marketing World week, our Halifax colleague Ellie Bramah connected with Deirdre Breakenridge. Breakenridge is the CEO of Pure Performance Communications and pillar of the PR, marketing and branding community, and we asked her to share some of her insights into the ever-evolving communications landscape.

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EB: For you, how does content marketing fit into the communications landscape today?

DB: Today, everything is blending and it’s such a better place to be for every communicator. It’s natural for PR to be connected to content marketing because the PR world has always been storytellers. I’ve spent decades in the agency world, and I saw the integration early. Even back as far as 1998, in strong communications and marketing programs, PR was there and storytelling was always there too. Now, that integration is making sense for the rest of the world.

PR has always been driven by story and by what’s important to an audience. What is changing, however, is the technology and channels that enable sharing that story in relevant ways. The audience is in total control today, and we all have to be a part of the creative conversation. Across every organization, we have to collaborate more, bring every team to the table and make sure that we’re all connected to the bigger business picture, whether we’re in PR, digital, content or marketing. It’s all connected.

EB: Could you share your perspective on how advertising and PR have adjusted to new content models? 

DB: We, as PR professionals, are natural listeners. We’ve always had to understand our audience, be transparent, objective, human. We care about what the public thinks, the brand overall, and its reputation. I think that foundation has given our industry a huge leg up and poised us to lead in this area. We have prided ourselves on understanding people and how important it is to be responsive to your publics and engage in a truthful way with them. The market is speaking to us, and as content marketers have to listen. PR has always done that.

Similarly, PR’s professional association has had a code of ethics for our industry for years. It’s something we subscribe to and our ethics impact how we counsel clients and our communications efforts. We’ve always been concerned with being fair, accurate, truthful. In today’s market, that’s more important than ever, and there are some organizations still on that learning curve.

EB: How do you encourage clients to be real and authentic?

DB: First, we have to help clients understand the true need of their customer or audience. They don’t care who’s communicating with them – if it’s marketing or content teams or social managers, they just care if they’re happy and being served well. We have to make sure teams are aligned to deliver that quality of communication.

I believe that good communication starts on the inside, and good communication on the inside breeds good communication on the outside. Silos are broken today, they don’t exist anymore, and teams are beginning to understand how to work together. From my perspective, I’ve seen stunning results when you give people ownership over their work, give them the means to collaborate and empower them to share ideas and push each other. It leads to so much more innovation and productivity across teams.