Vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. Peanut butter and jelly. Bacon and pretty much anything. Some things just belong together, and I promise it's not just your (or, maybe more realistically, your kids') favorite food items; I'm talking about content marketing and public relations.

Why, then, do so many leaders tend to choose one strategy over the other? Too often, brands fall into this exclusivity trap, mistakenly believing there's only one way to achieve their goals. Sure, both PR and content have their respective benefits; done right, you can see wins using either approach. But they actually work well together -- even better than they do independently.

How PR and Content Make the Perfect Pair

Despite the fact that PR and content work so well together, plenty of marketing and communications leaders focus their time, attention, and budget on one or the other -- typically, on PR. Every leader has his or her own reasons for choosing PR over content, but I see it most often comes down to a couple of key reasons.

For starters, PR is familiar. Yes, it encompasses a lot of tactics, but it's not as "new" to some brands as content marketing, and you usually know what you can expect when you invest in PR.

And part of what you get is speed and short-term wins that you can see pretty easily, which will always be attractive to companies looking to build their brands and reach new audiences. But brand building and audience engagement are long-term strategies that are ongoing, and that's where a content marketing strategy becomes especially valuable.

So if you're stuck deciding between PR or content marketing and focusing all your efforts on one over the other, it's time to look at what you stand to gain by aligning the two. Here are three reasons your PR and content marketing should work together:

1. You can generate press through your content.

Imagine something exciting is happening at your company. You write about it on your blog and fill your social feeds with teasers about this big development. Someone else -- maybe a contributor for a publication in your industry -- takes notice.

She decides to write about your company or, better yet, sends you a message asking for a quote to boost her article. Suddenly, the content you've created has put you on the radar of someone with even greater reach and access to your target audience, and that's powerful.

I should mention that simply publishing content won't get you in front of journalists and contributors who are just dying to write about you. You've got to use a variety of content tools to help you create the right content and distribute it effectively.

2. PR can validate your other content.

Say you're on the road to content success; you've got a process that works for you, your content is engaging the right people, and you're seeing some positive results. That's fantastic -- but if you want to take it to the next level, PR can give you the validation you need.

Consider how much stronger your brand looks and sounds when you're not the only one writing about how great you are. When influencers and leaders in your space sing your praises in reputable publications, the work you're doing gets a serious boost of validation and credibility.

3. PR opens the door for more educational content.

Content marketing isn't meant to be promotional. In fact, blatantly promoting yourself and your brand will get your content rejected by online editors, so you've got to create truly engaging and educational content.

The thing is that no matter how much educational content you create, it's pretty hard to start conversations with your audience if no one really knows about you. That's what PR is for.

PR is promotional, and it builds awareness about your organization, making your company's name and brand more familiar. Consistent PR placements and mentions help you reach people and introduce yourself to them, and content allows you to continue that relationship with educational content. And when your PR and content align, it becomes easier for you to build trust and meaningful relationships with your audience.

Whether you're a content guru or a PR pro, you might never have realized the benefits of bringing these two strategies together. As you prepare for next year, consider launching some experiments to see how you can build your brand and engage your audiences through PR and content marketing.