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Content & Public Relations Agencies: Here’s How to Ensure a Collaborative & Productive Relationship

BY: Dan Rubin

Merriam-Webster defines frenemy as “a person who is or pretends to be a friend but who is also in some ways an enemy or rival.” Some infamous frenemy pairs include the characters of Jim Halpert and Dwight Schrute from The Office, a duo that went toe-to-toe but had a friendly foundation, and Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who fought each for the presidency but also spent time together in Europe as companions.

While PR and content marketing agencies may also appear to be frenemies, the truth is that based on our experience, they can share clients, projects and goals that make both shops, and most importantly, the mutual clients, succeed. Let us explain …

On the surface, both types of agencies seem to be cut from the same cloth. Both factions can be strong content marketers. Equally important, they both believe that paid and earned media are integral components of a content marketing strategy. Furthermore, both typically understand that words, design, channel, user experience and context matter. Both are experts at their craft. 

So, what are the differences between content marketing agencies and PR agencies? Let’s examine a couple of ways that content marketing shops and PR agencies differ:

  1. Distribution: Content marketers produce content that is distributed primarily on their clients’ owned and operated channels, speaking to customers directly. PR agencies target media influencers and editors with much higher frequency.
  2. Approach: PR-oriented content typically has a direct promotion of a product or service, while content marketers are much more nuanced about how to integrate a client’s product. That’s not to say that content marketers don’t drive business results; of course they do, but the approach is different.

What are some similarities in how content marketing shops and PR agencies approach content?

Content marketers and PR specialists both …

  1. Create content with an audience-first mindset.
  2. Are hyper aware of context: Understanding the emotional reality of the audience will determine the editorial angle of the asset.
  3. Understand channel nuances: All expert content marketers acknowledge that channel dictates content execution. Each social platform has executional requirements that drive success. A video that exists on your site needs different executional nuances for your app.
  4. Focus on KPIs: A solid content strategy, produced by either type of agency, will have clear KPIs with measurement capabilities to ensure the program is hitting the mark.
  5. Similar clients: Content marketers and PR agencies often call on the same client, which can create conflicts for budget and attention. 

Next, let’s look under the covers to learn how to optimize the strengths of all teams. Let’s imagine that we have a shared client with a PR agency who is launching a new product. They’ve called their multi-agency team together and the client is charged with creating buzz and early consumer adoption.

Here are the key steps to getting the best out of a combo team with PR and content marketing agency partners:

  1. Start from a shared set of facts.
  2. Present a shared plan for who does what.
  3. Devise a divide-and-conquer approach.

In this case, the content and PR teams should focus on differences between them, including:

When both teams are working with transparency, the inevitable unforeseen hurdles are tackled together and greatness results. Some of our best work is done with PR agencies working alongside our efforts. We have years of experience working hand-in-hand with PR agencies, producing award-winning content. Please reach out to learn more about our offerings and how we can create a standout program for you!


Dan Rubin is a 25+ year veteran of digital and content marketing, bringing expertise from working with Fortune 500 clients across industry verticals, and is responsible for Foundry 360’s strategic solutions, marketing support for Foundry 360, Targeted Media Health, and Dotdash Meredith Accolades.

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