When most people think about what public relations agencies do, they picture media relations, industry exposure and … well… lots of press releases. The reality is that the public relations industry has been transforming itself as new technologies and strategies become available that help us gain optimum exposure and get our clients and their products in front of target audiences.

Activities that have typically belonged in the marketing department – such as social media, blogging and other content creation — are slowly being taken over by outside agencies — including public relations firms. It’s not too surprising when you consider that public relations agencies are supposed to not only get media attention, but also ensure that a company’s brand image – as displayed to any audience – is consistent in its message and correctly represents the brand.

So, what is the recipe for success when it comes to content and social media marketing?

Well, the key thing is coordination among all parties. The most successful PR, social media and content marketing strategies are well coordinated, integrated, discussed and designed in cooperation with all departments.

Far too often I see a message posted on social media by the marketing department about some great sales offer that sales has no idea about, and so it is rather wasted. Or, I see an outside agency post something on social media at 9:00 am and then the marketing department posts a different message at 2pm that totally wastes and negates the earlier message.

It’s important to be coordinated. Let every department have their input but, if these messages are not coordinated, it can come across as a confusing jumble of “stuff” with no purpose or destination in mind.

A well-coordinated social media marketing effort should be a mixture of industry-related content that supports the brand’s core message, along with personalized company content – such as birthdays, pictures and videos of the office or staff, recognitions, etc. Any outside agency will need to coordinate with someone internally at the company to get this personal content. This is vital as this type of content is what generally gets the most likes, comments and audience interaction.

This in combination with an excellent content marketing strategy which includes press releases, blogs, articles for trade magazines, speaking engagements, case studies and paid social advertising, can maximize visibility, tell a brand’s story and position its executives as industry thought leaders. It will also help to personalize the company and make its true personality shine in a way that prospects identify with and wish to do business with.

In the end, whether you subscribe to the idea that a public relations agency can be a good social media and content marketing partner or not, there’s a lot more to the whole content marketing and social media game than simply slapping content on a Facebook page, or throwing up a blog article and simply hoping people find it.

If you don’t know how to optimize that content for maximum reach, then you may find that you’re simply spinning your wheels in the mud and never actually getting anywhere.

Sara Callahan | Carter West Public Relations