Some public affairs professionals pooh-pooh content marketing, even as they devour op-eds, letters to the editor and media coverage of their pet topics.
Content marketing has been embedded in public affairs DNA for a long time, becoming an essential tool to explain complex issues and demonstrate the consequences of action — or inaction.
White papers, proof of concept, legal analysis, third-party testimonials and financial audits are long-time public affairs staples. They have been augmented by SlideShare presentations, infographics and videos to tell your side of a story.
A critical principle of content marketing is producing material that attracts and sustains the interest of your target audience. When they do their jobs effectively, public affairs professionals zero in on what's important to a lawmaker, regulator or neighborhood group. They generate communications that answer the questions their audiences want answered.
Content marketers create materials that serve a purpose, or in Jay Baer's words, have Youtility. Effective public affairs professionals are hyper-focused on persuading their target audience, so their arguments are usually simplified and to the point, including a clear explanation of consequences.
Content marketing relies on repetition to sustain interest. Public affairs professionals are persistent. They find ways to keep talking to their target audience, even if it is nothing more than a simple information update. They activate grassroots networks to send letters or emails. They pursue media coverage to keep their issue — and their position — top of mind. As the saying goes, they leave no stone unturned.
If the goal of content marketing is to build lasting relationships, then public affairs professionals are content marketing experts. Solid relationships and networks of connections are their stock in trade. It's not just who you know, but how well your target audience knows and trusts your facts and arguments. That trust comes from repeat engagements and is earned by showing integrity, even when you have a pair of threes and your opponent has four aces.
Public affairs is really nothing but a specialized form of niche marketing. Marketing principles, including the principles of content marketing, prevail. If you aren't a serious content marketer, you probably aren't doing your job as a public affairs professional.