Are PR firms becoming content marketing agencies

The content marketing segment globally is expected to grow by 20% CAGR, making it a billion-dollar industry by 2025. This raises the question, are PR firms in India moving towards this trend rapidly and becoming a content marketing firm first?

Shoebahmed Shaikh, director and head of content, Ideosphere Consulting agrees, "As a communications firm, we are observing a clear shift towards the creator economy, either as a brand or an individual. In a world where everyone has the same channel access to digital, the differentiator is always the content. This is even truer while working with the media, who need a content churn every 24 hours."

Palin Ningthoujam, vice president and head of EXPD (Digital & Content), Avian WE explains that, "As consumers, we have increased our online content consumption drastically since COVID-19. This habit is here to stay and content marketing as a discipline evolved by leaps and bounds in this last one year."

Drishti Vasisht, head- marketing, Weber Shandwick India says the content marketing approach lays more emphasis on better quality content that is both engaging and relevant, and best suited for the target audience.

She adds, "When you put out better content that is tailor made, it’s easier to establish yourself as a thought leader or an expert in the field, which also helps your credibility as a person or organization."

Types of Content marketing, channels and formats 

Commenting on the type of content that audiences are demanding Neena Biswal, head of south, CommsCredible comments says, "Video and audio content is emerging in a big way, however we believe text content is still powerful. Its shelf life is bigger. Overall, short form content is flying in terms of video, a one minute or 30 secs explainer video has great connect with audience.

On the audio side, our observation is that fiction is flying a lot. And so has been the fact that who is narrating the story. That impact of the central character is big in both audio and video."

Ningthoujam says, "Executive communications today can rely heavily on content marketing through long-form content on LinkedIn, podcasts, and video posts.

Some of our clients transformed themselves - from just catering to publishing platforms to becoming publishers themselves. The corporate blogs and website newsrooms provide huge opportunities to create great content and build readership for the brand."

Kiran Ray Chaudhury, Cofounder, 80dB Communications, "While in the earned space, the percentage of longer form text is more popular still, brevity in content is key for social media delivered through videos, infographics, blogs. Much has been said about the popularity of videos and with one third one-third of all internet activity spent watching videos, and mobile video consumption increasing by 100% every year, it is a versatile medium that simply cannot be ignored. Further, social video generates 1200% more shares than text- and image-based content."

Putting the content consumption trends in perspective, Palin Ningthoujam, Avian WE

"User-generated reels and shorts are among the hottest trends today as users can play with music, texts, and filters on their posts. A YouTube video is to a blog post today like Shorts is to a tweet. People love creating these 15-second videos.

The second upcoming trend is the emergence of audio social platforms like Clubhouse. Many of us keep our Clubhouse apps open in the background and listen to the sessions while we do our daily work, just like some people do with radio and TV. Both these trends signal the age of audio rising like a phoenix.

The third trend is the emergence of messaging platforms like Telegram where a lot of influencers have created their own groups and channels and broadcast messages to their subscribers. These work well for companies where instant and timely messages are crucial like in the financial markets, and sports."

Are editorial partnerships on the rise?

Is an important outcome of content marketing editorial partnerships?

Absolutely, answers Bhaskar Majumdar, head – corporate affairs, communication & digital, Egis India, "A wide blend of earned, paid, owned & shared media are now an integral part of all campaign planning and editorial partnerships are also part of it. Having said that, it largely depends on #brands #services #products to decide (the need for a B2B and B2C brand can be completely different)."

Ningthoujam explains that with the new ASCI guidelines for influencers, editorial partnerships are undergoing a transformation. As we expect to see more transparency in such partnerships, influencers will have to work harder to create content that is fun and entertaining or genuinely informative. To get audience to accept paid content and engage with them will demand superior quality.

Secondly, while earlier editorial partnerships used to be limited to A-listers, it has now percolated to micro influencers across platforms."

Shaikh shares, "We have definitely seen a more open discussion and seeding of quality content planned over time over the last 12 months. Independent media are faster to move on this than the traditional media universe because they are usually digitally native and understand the importance of velocity in a digital world."

Vashishth also agrees that, "Partnerships have tremendously increased in the post pandemic world as people have understood the value of meaningful collaborations."

Biswal has a different perspective on the issue of editorial partnerships, she feels that, "Media is moving towards branded content in a big way. The pressure of alternative revenue streams is big on media, beyond the advertising stream.
There will be always limited editorial partnership opportunities available. They were always there, in limited numbers. Those who will be able to deliver value for media through these, be it in terms of content or revenue, will get them."

In conclusion, Shaikh sums up the shift to content marketing best saying, "Every brand needs to look in the mirror and see a content machine stare back at them. It is become one of the most valuable asset whether you are a market incumbent, challenger or CEO.