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2016 PR Forecasting: Most Corporate and Agency PR Pros Will Increase Content Marketing Efforts Next Year, New Study Reveals

Content marketing distribution concept. Woman carrying a box with the word "content" in front.The PR industry will turn its focus to content in 2016, according to new research from news distribution hub Marketwired, which recently surveyed PR and marketing practitioners to find out how content fits into their communications programs and how to best support its customers with tools and knowledge to drive business impact with content marketing. Survey results reinforce the growing importance of content marketing: 79% of survey respondents currently have a program in place, and the majority plan to increase (64%) or maintain (22%) efforts next year.

“Results from this survey echo conversations I’ve had with customers about the importance of content to their PR and marketing programs, and to their overall business objectives,” said Sanjay Kulkarni, Marketwired vice president of Product & Marketing, in a news release. “It’s clear that relevant, quality content is increasingly important to telling brand stories, boosting customer affinity and driving qualified leads for the sales team. And while building a content strategy isn’t quick or simple, our respondents see it as a must-have for 2016. They recognize the opportunities in front of them by having a plan in place.”

Survey highlights and insights:

  • PR and marketing professionals are using an expanding range of content in their communications: blog posts (55%), photos (29%) and news releases (24%) were identified as the content used most frequently by respondents. Newsletters, video, infographics and white papers were also named, along with case studies, webinars and tip sheets.
  • A notable 61% of respondents said they are using influencers and brand advocates to help amplify their content, reach new audiences and increase engagement. For those who answered “no” to using influencers, they commonly cited budget and/or resource restrictions and not knowing where to start with an influencer program as their primary challenges.
  • Half of respondents use visuals on a weekly basis to support their content efforts, and an impressive 30% do so daily. As consumers increasingly look for relevant and engaging multimedia content, it’s no surprise that PR and marketing pros are answering the call by producing and sharing photos, video, infographics and other visual content with their audiences.
  • PR and marketing pros are taking advantage of opportunities to connect with and engage their audiences across multiple platforms. Twitter (75%), Facebook (73%) and LinkedIn (63%) are the most commonly used social channels for sharing visual content (video, photos, and infographics). Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest are popular choices as well, and social networking newcomers Snapchat, Periscope, Vine, and Meerkat also made the list.
  • When asked which of part of the “media mix” (Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned) was most important to their communications programs, it was not surprising to see respondents rank earned media efforts as their top priority; after all, it has long been a staple of PR. But owned media—blogs, tip sheets, case studies, webinars, etc.—ranked nearly as high in importance among respondents. PR and marketing pros recognize there are many opportunities to create relevant, useful resources for their customers and tell brand stories through the content they design and own.
  • Seventy-seven percent of respondents said “yes” to measuring their content efforts, proving that for PR and marketing pros, what’s worth doing is worth measuring. And while engagement, reach and website analytics are the most commonly named metrics, click-through rates (CTRs), lead-generation, brand awareness and influence were close runners-up.

Marketwired surveyed PR and marketing professionals between October 15 and November 25, 2015 via the online questionnaire, “Are You a #ContentMachine?” More than 100 respondents, from corporate PR/marketing departments, PR/marketing agencies, non-profit/government agencies and other professional settings contributed to the data in the survey results.

Source: Marketwired; edited by Richard Carufel

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