International PR firm FleishmanHillard recently announced the launch of ContentWorks, a global content marketing service promising brands access to the PR giant’s network of newsrooms, content shops, partners and tools in more than 100 markets. The offering is a result of the merging of FH’s existing content services with Freshwire, a creation and content strategy service acquired by FH in 2012.
Although in a press release, FH describes Freshwire as “a first-mover in the content marketing category,” other PR companies have, in fact, made forays into the content marketing space.
Back in March 2013, Weber Shandwick launched Mediaco, a content creation and distribution unit, which CEO Andy Polansky credited with helping to fuel the company’s success that year, as well as its earning the title of Global Agency of the Year by The Holmes Report. Similarly, international PR company Porter Novelli launched PNConnect, a content-creation and brand-publishing service, in July 2013, while Boston-based March Communications also recently added content marketing to its list of services.
Clearly, the PR industry is looking for its slice of the content marketing pie. And with good reason. “Whether it is a press release, opinion article, a keynote or a video, PR agencies and in-house communications teams have traditionally been custodians of content for clients or brands,” writes Sian Gaskell, director of the UK PR firm Cuban Eight, in The Guardian. “The rise of social media and the desire to feed all those channels with content, coupled with the fact that consumers don’t want a disruptive banner ad popping up in front of them, brands have realized how important engaging content is to get their messages to resonate with their target audiences.”
Which means PR companies that want to get in the game need to invest in high-end content teams that can create quality products able to compete for an increasingly sophisticated content consumer. As Gaskell notes, content marketing is here to stay: “The PR industry needs to ensure they are not sidelined and retain that custodian of content status by taking advantage of the tools and resources available.”