Content vs Relationships – It’s not a monarchy…

Low angle view of the statue of Emperor Augustus, Faraglioni rocks, Monte Solaro, Capri, ItalyI’d been bouncing around a post on this topic mentally for a few weeks, but as usual things get in the way.  But when a post from superstar Chris Brogan declaring not content, but rather relationships “King” and a counter-post (though not referencing Brogan’s) appeared on Chris Illuminati’s blog declaring content King it was time to, as they say, open a vein and bleed on the page.

Declaring either content or relationships as King implies that either can stand alone.  After all, in a monarchy the King rules — his will is law (and in some cases religious doctrine).  This is certainly the exception, not the rule.  It’s a triumvirate folks.

For those who don’t recall their Roman history or Julius Caesar, a triumvirate is “a political regime dominated by three powerful individuals, each a triumvir.”  In our case content and relationships are each one of the triumvir.  The final one — the quality of the delivery, or simply, the delivery.

I’m no Brogan or Illuminati (I haven’t written a book on PR or SM or headlined a conference on the topic [yet]), so what do I offer as proof?  My own experience (and likely that of my colleagues reading this).

Two brief stories many of you can probably relate to:

  • First week on the job – no relationships, send out a quality announcement (content) and get a few hits the client was very happy with.  No, it wasn’t the Journal, but high-end trades.  My guy got several pats on the back at the next industry conference based on it.  I had zero relationships and was terrified to hit that send button on day 2 at work.
  • Few years in, a number relationships established, and weak, very weak (like Superman and Krytonite weak) content that the client insists must go out.  We send it, pitch it and nothing.  Finally flip the Rolodex to that often used card, the one you know you can get the hit from.  The mid-level outlet — make the call and get that de minimis hit.

In short, we’ve all gotten hits from content that could’ve pitched itself and hits that would never have happened but for the pre-established relationship.  Neither rules, neither can stand alone.  To imply, or flat-out state this, disregards the other, and for those new to the biz can easily distract them on where they should focus.

The third part — the delivery, is right up there as well.  How we deliver the content or “work” the relationship is vital.  A bad delivery, or abusing a relationship, will certainly obfuscate the message you’re trying to present.  Will it kill it — possibly.  Will a great delivery enhance even the worst content or a non-existent relationship — of course.  Heck, it could even repair a relationship that’s started to run in the red.

Each of these pillars, in varying degrees, is key for success in our business.  They can boost each other up, enhance what might be lacking.  Can a campaign survive if it lacks one?  Surely.  Can any one exist without either of the other two…questionable.

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