The Birth of the Hybrid Publicist: How Content Marketing Has Transformed the Role of PR

The Birth of the Hybrid Publicist: How Content Marketing Has Transformed the Role of PR


Content marketing has been a popular buzzword in the last few years. And in the same way that social media spawned the new job title of social media marketer, content marketing has created new roles through the ever growing content marketing team. And that’s great news for journalists and publicists.

Because producing quality content takes time and commitment (At Onboardly, we have calculated that it takes, on average, 14 hours to go from topic idea to publication. This does not include the estimated 80% attention that should be given to promoting the content), it’s not enough to have a lone content marketer handle everything from brainstorming to copy to management, budgeting and design. One, that person will be burned out, lowering the overall quality of the content. And two, since content marketing significantly costs less than traditional advertising while generating three times the leads, companies can afford to hire a team to make sure their content is top notch. Brainstorming with a team is fun anyway, right?

This is where journalists and publicists come in.

Hybrid Publicists Write for the Audience

With the decline of the newsroom, traditional journalism jobs have been dying. They have been replaced by a hybrid position of social media manager, writer, editor, publicist and general marketer. And in some cases, in the startup space, the new ‘Growth Hackers’. Which really are super powered, number crunching generalists.

Because PR is so intrical to the growth of businesses, a new sector has even emerged called “brand journalists.” These specialists are used to researching, providing quick turnarounds, and have connections within the industry. They’re like the gunner on your content marketing team. They get the job done fast. And because their training involves writing for the audience, they’ll be an essential part of your team. Part of good storytelling the ability to align your story with your audience after all.

The new publicist is one that understands the audience and the product, instead of having a one sided understanding. The problem with CEOs or founders doing PR themselves is that it often times creates biased messaging around what they want people (audience) to hear and not what needs to be heard. A great publicist and content marketer creates the story and publishes great content based on what the audience needs to hear while understanding the WHY behind the business.

The ‘WHY’ and Why It’s Important

A great publicist will take the needed time to research, collect data, insights and case studies to present a companies WHY in a way that is compelling to the most discriminating and busy journalist or editor. Instead of highlighting the basic features of a product or service, a PR professional will connect the dots, showing why the product or service provides value to a media outlet’s specific audience.

Their skill lies in their way of using narrative to reach everyone, not just media outlets. As Christopher S. Penn of SHIFT Communications says, “The ‘public’ in public relations means everyone. We’re going back to the idea of the people as the platform. We have to get used to the idea that we’re not talking just to the news media, we’re talking to everyone.”

PR professionals are innate storytellers and can tailor a narrative to meet the demands of the media saturated public. Most founders can only think of one narrative–the reason why they created the product or service in the first place. They know why it provides value to them, because they created the damn thing. Publicists make it accessible to everyone.

PR Professionals Rock at Outreach

In a recent post, we talked about why it’s important to leave PR to the professionals. It’s like we said, “The thing that many people don’t understand is that journalists do want to talk to founders… eventually. But if the founder can’t pitch, they won’t get the opportunity in the first place. A journalist is a professional who doesn’t want their time wasted. So why wouldn’t you use another professional to deal with a professional journalist?.”

PR professionals live for outreach and usually bring with them a great network and incredible ability to create meaningful and long lasting relationships with key influencers and the media. They’ve spent a lot of time perfecting and innovating their pitch, know how to approach influencers, and can work under tight deadlines. On top of that, they can create content strategy, position their clients as experts in the space, and write a damn-good blog post to boot. Plus, they are skilled at targeted outreach.

Remember the (very unsuccessful) Segway? When it first debuted on the market, you couldn’t turn on a TV without seeing someone riding the machine. Yet it failed anyway. That’s because their strategy (or lack thereof) was a free-for-all. Instead of trying to reach their target audience, they settled for empty hype. Startup founders doing their own PR tend to rejoice at any press, like getting published on big ticket sites like Entrepreneur, Forbes or TechCrunch, even if it doesn’t reach the people who will actually buy their product or service. Any old publicity isn’t sufficient, you need PR professionals to get your product in front of the right people, not just anyone.

The Knowledge Economy Requires People

In the 90s, newsrooms abounded and Internet journalism wasn’t taken seriously. Now the tables have switched. Journalism has evolved into a PR, social media and content marketing trifecta. And thanks to Demand Marketing, which is the integration of traditional and digital marketing methods, including PR, content marketing and social media, to generate demand for your product or service, demand for journalists is at an all time high.

For those who aren’t adaptable, this shift has brought crisis. But for those attune to innovations in media, they have found new opportunities to thrive in. Opportunities like native advertising (a.k.a. the Buzzfeed model) and product videos (like the Dollar Shave Club viral video).

The point is that thanks demand marketing, those who have skills in integrated PR, content marketing and influencer marketing (social media), can flourish. Journalists no longer have to “follow the news” but can use their wide-ranging skills to help build and grow a brand. The line between journalist and marketer is blurred. And that’s a beautiful thing (for your company, that is).

Do you agree that content marketing has created new jobs? Let us know in the comments.

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What do you think?

One Comment

Good article. I do have a question, at the beginning of paragraph 4 “Because PR is so intrical to the growth of businesses,” should intrical be integral? Just wondering.