Empower & Inspire with Content Marketing

IStock_000004471659XSmallYou work at a PR firm.  Among your tasks is netting a few juicy speaking opportunities for your client’s top executive.

You fill out the forms.  Follow-up.  Nail the gig.  A keynote, no less!  Yay!

Prior to the event, you draft a Media Advisory about the CEO’s upcoming speech.  You ping members of the media who will be in attendance: “want to hook up with the CEO for lunch after his speech?”

You attend the keynote with the CEO.  You take notes on his speaking points: these could be the crumbs of a new trend pitch…

Immediately after his speech, you scurry about the auditorium, scanning for green press badges.  Maybe you can drum up an extra briefing or two – or three!

After it’s all done, you have a drink and rub your aching feet in the airport lounge.  Job well done, mission accomplished.

Sure: yesterday that woulda been enough.  Yesterday that would have netted you an “atta boy” from the CEO. 

Tomorrow, though, that plan of action will not be enough.  “Tomorrow” you will do ALL OF THE ABOVE, plus, you’ll want to:

  • Interview the CEO in the car on the way to the event, with your Flipcam.
  • Hustle the CEO into a quiet conference room for an impromptu podcast.
  • Document hallway chatter and interview the conference attendees before/after the CEO’s keynote speech (“What are you hoping to hear today?  Did the speech meet expectations?”).
  • Film or livestream and/or liveblog/tweet the speech itself… while monitoring and responding to other tweets by fellow conference attendees.
  • Share this content all along the way, and monitor responses; interacting directly with users; answering questions, etc.

Note that these “tactics from tomorrow” are not necessarily targeted to “the media.”  They are aimed at sharing fresh content, using it to empower “passalong sharing” and spur conversation and reactions across all sorts of interested stakeholders.

Creating such a “content engine” creates ongoing opportunities-for-attention and dialogue, plus, the constantly-updated content stream aids in SEO.

When you consider a scenario like this one, do you really think PR will continue to be about “press releases?”

Tomorrow’s coming.

Posted on: August 5, 2008 at 10:50 am By Todd Defren
15 Responses to “Empower & Inspire with Content Marketing”


  • Agree completely with Kyle. As I read this post my heart just sank as it reminded me of the work that still needs to be done. News has turned into a 24/7 industry and I wonder if I will ever feel caught up. It is exciting and I love this new direction.

  • Mike Keliher says:

    Well, without trying to brag (although that’s pretty much what I’m about to do), I’ve been doing most, if not all of these things, for a few years now (live-tweeting excepted; *a* year, perhaps). That’s exceptionally encouraging.

    Good post, Todd.

  • Andrew says:

    Phew! I’d like your budgets Todd.

  • Todd Defren says:

    Thanks, all, for the comments!

    @Tim and @Melissa – I was just throwing out one example; I leave it to the readers to extrapolate and strategize for their own clients’ needs. But it is important to see the FOREST (rise of content marketing) vs. the TREES (which tools to use, and when).

    @Dharmesh – wouldn’t've blogged it if we weren’t ready. We’ll talk offline. ;)

  • You are a brave, brave man.

    A bunch of your CEO clients (including HubSpot’s CEO) are going to now want this tomorrow — as in tomorrow. :)

  • Excellent post. But “tomorrow”? I would hope – expect – that any marketing or PR firm that follows your blog and has adopted social media has already been doing much of these tactics you propose. Why? because it works.

    We’ve been having tremendous success with this model you describe (even wrote an eBook about it). Leveraging “content” in traditional and web 2.0 marketing and PR campaigns generates visibility (buzz), web site traffic (for client) and sales leads.

    And that’s what it’s all about – and it’s measurable, unlike the PR of yesterday. This blog post of yours (Todd) is dead-on accurate and gives great examples of how to use these new communication tools to accomplish these measurable metrics. Nice work.

  • Tim Shisler says:


    This is all good stuff, but the “tipping point” I see is when content becomes synonymous with editorial. Creating content is a necessity in the Internet world, but the word content still does not yet carry the connotation that editorial does. When a PR engine can introduce content with an arch — something beyond just PR in-the-moment blabber — I think we will see a major rise in raw content being streamed, tagged and followed by the gatekeepers of editorial.

  • I’d have to agree with Tim’s assessment… while I think you’re right, Todd, people are much more “what have you done for me this minute?” than they ever have been, I always have to go back to strategy when I get over-excited about PR 2.0. And frankly, I think it’s our job as PR counselors to remind our clients that they don’t need all of this–just what is “right” for them and on strategy.

    In no way am I saying we shouldn’t act opportunistically or remind ourselves that content is king, but I’m getting the sense these days that we’re getting caught up in the tactics and tools…and losing the point.

    It’s tough, too, b/c the metrics game is ever-evolving–how do we measure the impact of that impromptu podcast? how do we justify to the CEO that it’s worth spending his time (or someone on my team’s time) tweeting? We’re finding unique ways to measure, but there’s definitely no silver bullet…and I think the more scatter-shot our approach is, the more it just reinforces to clients/leadership that this digital world is a bunch of random tactics.

    Then again, I’m sitting here blogging and I’m all over Twitter, so I obviously see the value!

  • Justin Levy says:

    I don’t think press releases will ever completely disappear but I think we will continue to see a change from “traditional” press releases to internet-based releases. I do agree that PR is less about press releases and more about utilizing several forms of social media and multimedia to provide the end-recipient many different formats to learn about an event, product, etc.

    I wonder if in another 10-15 years we will be seeing a post similar to this but listing all of the above as the old-hat items along with a line of other tools that we can’t even fathom. Really, who would’ve thought we’d have podcasts, feeds, streaming video, social networks, etc.


  • Tomorrow is HERE. And there won’t be one person doing all of these activities, there will be several. And the podcasts and impromptu video interviews will become more polished as people are trained and/or become experienced. With Twitter, video, podcasts, etc. along with traditional media appearances and annoucements, the noise will be overwhelming to the audience. Will they gladly take it all in? Will certain sectors only “view” via Twitter or livestreaming video? Or will all of PR’s efforts turn everyone off? What is the TiVo of the future for all of this? It remains to be seen, but it’s very exciting too. Now where did I put my Flip?

  • Tim Allik says:

    Hi Todd,

    I guess I’d have to ask (before anything else): what’s the strategy? Impromptu flip-cam interviews and stream-of-consciousness tweeting are all well and good, but what exactly is the point?

    Above all, the client needs *focus* to give his or her best at a speaking engagement. I’m not convinced that getting poked and prodded in real-time by PR cameras and microphones is going to achieve that.

    I’d rather produce and edit a solid well-crafted podcast or videocast prior to the event. I would embed a link to that podcast in press release (yes, a press release) and craft a persuasive story around what he or she is talking about.

    I personally don’t see much value in extensive live tweeting at conferences. Most of it is frankly not worth reading. I also find the act of tweeting at speaking engagements to be distracting for participants and audience members alike. Maybe it’s unfair, but it gives the impression that the tweeter isn’t fully engaged, that he’s passing notes in class and would rather be somewhere else.

    Not that there isn’t value in Twitter. After the event, I would help the client craft a thoughtful and compelling blog post that hits on all of the key points that we want to make, and I’d tweet the blog post.

    All of the tools that we have at our disposal these days make PR lots more fun and potentially more impactful. But I don’t like the idea of throwing it all up on a wall and seeing what sticks. I think that in the future, there is going to be more value placed on focus, strategy, and deliberation than there is now. At least I hope so.

  • Thank you Todd for spending your time writing this valuable content. I’m always amazed of PR people who find the time to write content for promoting their own businesses and the industry as a whole. We all should do more.

  • Kyle says:

    Ugh…I have SO much work to do ;)

    You nailed it Todd. I’m constantly faced with 360 degrees of content creation, even for the smallest news item. None of it is for the press anymore, it goes direct to our community. These days this is a must.


  • “Content engine” is a great phrase. It defines a broader responsibility for today’s (and tomorrow’s) business communicators.

  • Daniel Lally says:

    There always be a “press release” in one form or another. As long as there are gatekeepers there will be a need to influence _their_ perceptions and document the details so the message gets passed on accurately. But as the technology changes, the tools we use need to change too.

    Great post and very teachable example of how the media are changing.

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