But, as many library marketers know, media outreach can be time-consuming. There’s also no guarantee the media will cover your story. But there is an alternative: content marketing. Although the term is new, PR professionals have long created content for their organizations, such as thought leadership pieces and contributed articles.
What’s changed is we now have inexpensive means to distribute content, including email newsletters, websites, blogs and social media. While it’s still important to reach out and build relationships with local journalists, public library marketers no longer need to rely only on the media to get their messages out.
For public libraries who want to create their own content, here are seven reasons why I think content is the new PR.
1. Engage Directly with Audience
Public libraries can tailor content to the interests of their stakeholders – community leaders, library visitors, non-users, moms, teens, etc. – and publish helpful and informative pieces that might not make the editorial cut elsewhere. After publication, any comments or “shares” will come to your attention, enabling you to continue the conversation directly with your readers.
2. Share Your Perspective
When news happens, you want to share the full story with your readers. Given space and editorial restrictions, local media may not be able to accommodate all of what you’d like to say. But you can provide your perspective and more details about your news in your own content channels, and share it directly with your audience.
3. Respond More Quickly
In a crisis, getting information out quickly is critical. If you have control over the medium, you can publish urgent news immediately. On the flip side, you can also be the first to share exciting news.
4. Attract the Media
Reporters are always on the lookout for good story ideas, so they talk to a lot of people and they read widely. If you publish regularly, you may not need to conduct as much media relations outreach. Journalists can sign up for your newsletter or follow your blogposts and social media. When they see something that might add to a story they’re working on, they’ll give you a call.
5. Correct Misinformation
As a public institution, public libraries are often subject to criticism. Correcting misinformation or filling in gaps can be a challenge. As I’ve mentioned, editors have a good deal of discretion over what is printed in their publication (as they should). But you can use your own channels to correct errors and omissions.
6. Regular Coverage
In a perfect world, the media would write about your public library every day. Alas, that’s not realistic. But, with a well-planned content marketing strategy, you can build awareness by producing a regular stream of content distributed through each of your media channels.
7. Higher ROI
While a comprehensive content marketing strategy can take up a fair amount of resources, it can also pay off in a big way by giving you multiple opportunities every day to engage with your audience. As you reach more people and the volume of conversation increases, this strategy will result in a higher return on investment. A content program will build loyalty, increase library visits and event attendance, and gain greater support for your budget proposals.