Content Marketing: What does a modern PR strategy look like? with Mark Hook (episode 025)

by April Buencamino-dy

Mark is the Global Director of PR and Communications at Digital Operations Solutions supplier Brightpearl. He’s been in PR for over 10 years working for content sites, hospitals, at a PR agency and as Global PR Lead at eCommerce Retailer Lovehoney. It’s fair to say that Mark knows PR inside out!

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How Mark got into PR

Mark started his career in publishing but always had an interest in PR. While in his publishing role, he had written a press release and received extensive negative feedback.

He took the heavily marked up piece out to show a friend when an acquaintance with ties to the PR world saw it, loved it and invited Mark to come work with her.

Previous to this Mark had done an extensive amount of volunteer experience and had been making inroads in the PR world for some time. 

Defining PR

PR is really simple (but not easy) — if you know what you’re doing.

If you understand what fundamentally makes a great story and can gauge the dynamic of the relationship between clients and journalists, you’ll be able to launch a successful PR campaign. 

Mark says that these days, PR overlaps with SEO and with content, but not recognizing the specific value of PR would do it a disservice. PR and SEO dovetail and should compliment each other and in the very best circumstances, one greatly strengthens the other.

The link building aspect of SEO is an especially appropriate tactic that works well with PR. Regardless, it’s all about a good story. Not having a good story to tell and sell is where most people miss out on the value of PR.

Building Media Relationships

Building relationships with journalists is really the first thing people should do when they begin getting interested in utilizing PR.

Having a real conversation is an underutilized tactic to developing a robust PR department and Mark recommends trying to get people on the phone or in person.

Too many folks simply send their press releases off and hope for the best, but Mark says that PR is a content driven exercise and it’s one that should drive value. 

You Have to Tell the Story

Without a good story, you might as well be advertising. The best PR is made up of engaging content that also offers value.

More than just a press release, think of reviews, unboxing, podcasts and more. LoveHoney recently did a digital event recently in which  they offered a panel of wellness experts answering listener questions in real time.

This kind of event obviously drew a lot of positive PR because it offered a lot of personal, valuable content. To craft really compelling PR, you have to be willing to take people on a journey.

It’s more than a victory lap and Mark says that connecting with people means looking at the whole range of the human experience. 

Creating Emotional Engagement

Good storytelling can help a brand shape their story and build an emotional connection with an audience. Ultimately PR is all about the human side of business and only works when brands are real.

Ultimately — Mark says you have to open up to be loved.  In 2020 a lot of brands have opened up to their audiences, but keeping the conversation going will be crucial for continued returns. B

esides engaging with your existing audience, PR validates brands and builds trust by helping a brand show up in more places online.

Insider Tips

If we’ve inspired someone to take their first step with Email Marketing – what do they need to know to give themselves the best chance of success?

When it comes to building a good PR practice, it really is about knowing your audience. Whenever Mark takes on a new role in the PR space, he looks at the data about customers.

Finding opportunities works much better when you understand the customer. Really getting a picture about what’s happening with your customer is the best place to start. 

Once you’ve started of course you’ve got to ‘keep optimising’! So what’s your favourite way to improve email marketing performance?

Tracking data wherever you can is incredibly valuable. Seeing how your brand awareness is improving over time is invaluable. Mark says that when you are tracking your impact you can also discover surprising alignments.

It’s impossible to improve our marketing unless we’re monitoring the performance – but the list of stuff we could monitor can be overwhelming. So what, for you is the number one email marketing KPI?

It depends largely what the value stakeholders are looking for. Mark’s favorite is average domain authority, that is where they are placing on highly ranked websites.

Share of voice is also important. Mark wants to see if they are getting more coverage than competitors. 

Crystal ball time – what’s coming up in the next 6-12 months that we should be getting ready for in email marketing?

The next year will undoubtedly be digitally focused, but that’s where we are moving even more. Mark says he sees content marketing and SEO moving even more closely together.

If you’re in PR and not aligning campaigns with SEO then you are really missing out. PR is a very digital activity that sits alongside affiliate marketing, SEO and digital marketing.

Supporting and helping those disciplines is going to grow in importance. 

Interview Links

Mark on Social media:

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