As professionals from any discipline, we have a tendency to jump into action too quickly.
We spend little time defining goals and then doing research to identify the right tactics that will enable us to hit those goals.
I think this is particularly relevant in PR and on the PR Resolution podcast with Stella Bayles, we discuss exactly that.
Stella and I had a long conversation around inbound and PR, goals and measurement, content creation and planning.
I want to share with you the beginning of our discussion points and give you the opportunity to listen to the whole podcast below.
Let's start with a definition of inbound as some of our listeners are completely new to this. Could you give us a summary of what inbound really means?
People nowadays are very different in terms of how they make decisions to either buy or work with someone than a decade or more ago. They no longer like to get information pushed out at them, i.e. the outbound approach. Today, your marketing is far more effective when you pull people in to your business with remarkable content that they find on their own at their own time, i.e. the inbound approach.
PR was a lot more about proactively pushing but now it seems to be merging with the marketing approach of inbound - is that correct?
Yes. When I was working in PR, I used to do a lot of direct pitching to journalists with the traditional PR approach. Then I joined HubSpot and one of the realisations that I made was that PR people don't really leverage their content to attract different types of stakeholders and are sticking with what they've known for years. I firmly believe that PR has a role to play in Sales to help acquire new customers which is the best way to show ROI. PR people are the most skilled content creators and they need to use that ability more broadly. One example is the creation of a newsroom that's designed specifically for the media people so that they can find content on their own time rather than be spammed by pitches that may not be relevant to them.
Do you think there's an element of outbound in the inbound approach or is it just create the content and they will come?
It's two-fold. The quality of content is paramount but you also need to make sure that that content reaches the right audience. Sometimes, email might be the correct channel for that. But what's more important is to sit down and take a strategic approach supported by research. Before you think about content, stories, campaigns or channels, you first need to define your stakeholder persona - buyer, media, employee etc. You want to research their interests, needs and challenges, how they prefer to be contacted, how they do research and what channels they use, how they make decisions etc. You want to create a full profile of what their day looks like and who they are so that you can make informed decisions about the content you need to create and through it, become part of your stakeholder's decision-making process. Such an approach is much more effective than just emailing 500 contacts from your database and hoping that they'll bite.
Do you think this approach works for all industries?
I believe so. One thing that I explain in my book is that you need to start with the bigger goals in mind - with your WHY. Why in the first place do you want PR involved? What do you expect out of it? What are your overarching business objectives? What role should PR play? How much would invest? This is relevant to any industry. Once you have the answers, you can identify the stakeholder personas you need to reach and then the tactics and channels to use in order to hit those goals - you may only need earned media or you may need owned and paid media as well.
How do you personally develop yourself and grow new skills?
I'm inherently a very curious people and I always need to learn more. One of my purposes in life is to share all the knowledge that I've gathered with the world which is why I wrote a book. I'm very thirsty for learning new things, building new skills and growing an expertise. I'm just genuinely interested in things. Passion is what drives me. I didn't even study PR but worked in it and that was purely because I was so interested in it and wanted to do it so I put all the effort needed to make it happen. One of the most, most rewarding experiences in life is reading books and then applying the learning from them in real life. Probably half of everything I know I've learned it through reading books and then going ahead and trying things out on my own.
In the rest of the interview, Stella and I talk about what content works well, how PR can and should work with other departments, some of the challenges PR pros face, measurement, the Inbound PR methodology, how to get started with Inbound PR, opportunities for PR to tap into new budget and more.
Listen to it here:
How do you define your broader business goals and tie them back to PR?