PR Pro’s New Title: Content Marketers

Is it me or is PR not actually evolving and instead completely disappearing?

It’s safe to say that you can start calling all PR people “marketers.” Why? We’re all about marketing strategy now; we’re not just relating to publics but trying to learn how people tick, how they’ll be moved to purchase or pass along something – based on research and continuous analysis found in deep dives into social networks and by reading a vast amount of blog posts on the topic. The practice of PR has traditionally been built upon persuasion, but persuasion isn’t accurate. 

Real-life interaction is, so us “marketers” are now talking to consumers in efforts to better understand consumption of content. We are both drivers and creators of content, not crafters of company-favored news releases with a lot of fluff. We can’t do that anymore because it’s not authentic, and because it’s not authentic, it’s not interesting. That’s the cycle of a harsh reality hitting all of us.

More evidence for PRs falling off the map: take a look at events and seminars being favored by PRs. You won’t see PRs in high attendance at PRSA (I wish it weren’t so); instead you will see the most interesting blur if you attend an event like MIMA – it’s where PR meets interactive meets ultra geeky in Minneapolis. And you know what, we’re starting to get all of this geek stuff in our new roles as marketers.

No longer are our days spent pitching media over the phone or e-mail. Instead, we are reading and aggregating posts that give us glimpses into the lay of the land, and we’re building media lists that feature news outlets with blogs, because otherwise, we’ll have to buy an ad – either in the paper or digitally-speaking.

But wait, what about the traffic figures? Is this media outlet not worth it because of the uniques, or should we flock to something that contains more of an exponential-reaching audience? What are people’s behaviors on this specific page of our client’s website? Do they stay or is the bounce rate something to take note of? How can we keep consumers intrigued by what our clients are doing?  I know! Let’s send a MNR (multimedia news release)! That will drive them to our site, plus it ranks pretty high in Google. That’s how us marketers are talking now.

And oh those titles… “brand public relations director,” “digital PR specialist,” “conversation igniter,” “emerging media expert”… Really, we’re just hiding behind the realization that we’ve become marketers. Content marketers.

Why are we so ashamed of being a marketer? It’s a good title, honest. Your spell check won’t redline you, claiming an “s” doesn’t make sense. And you can avoid the possibility of misspelling “public” on a resume. It’s a win-win situation. PRs, wear your new title proudly.

Agree or disagree?

Tim Otis is supervisor of social media and PR for Gabriel deGrood Bendt, a full-service marketing agency based in Minneapolis. Alongside a tenacious team of always-thinkers, Otis manages all social and traditional communications initiatives for a variety of CPG brands. In his spare time, he is a musician and foodie and advocate for time well spent in social networks. He also blogs on the topic of connecting social media to business at

Share on Tumblr

  • Anonymous

    This is a really intriguing post.  I am absolutely consumed with developing ‘engaging’ content…more than I ever used to.  Alot of it is trial and error…but the need to engage communities is paramount…

    • Anonymous

      Yes, me too, Elissa. I can’t get away from content analysis and auditing a brand’s social networks to see how they could make their content more engaging and produce active users/advocates at a faster rate.

      • Samantha Stone

        trouble is, there already are marketers (with the skills to do such) – anyone trained to send out vacuous email on mass is generally referred to in the publishing biz as a spammer – auditing social media channels is the equivalent of looking upstream – content creation comes to great ideas and equally great execution – the domain of specialists and perhaps that is the gist of the article – time to learn new skills
        (and as an aside, advertising still works – and smart publishers should be ignoring PR firms who are operating in the middle)

  • I wonder if we’re becoming marketers, or if marketers are doing what we do, thus blurring the line.

    • Anonymous

      That’s the million dollar question, Sam. But I’d lean on us becoming more like marketers. Or we could all just collectively proclaim we’re “content strategists”

  • For those of us who remember when PR folk didn’t talk to marketeers OR to advertising people…welcome to the reality of the 21st century’s multi-layered communication model! I’ve always approached my challenges as a PR pro from the “create a compelling message, not spam” perspective. Or as “Cora” said in the Wendy’s ads…”Where’s the beef?” I was chanting this in the 80s…it FINALLY got traction!

  • Pingback: A Brief History of Content Marketing-And Elements of Success | V3 Kansas City Integrated Marketing and Social Media Agency()