I’m sure you’ve heard about PR, but how about inbound? Do you know what it is?
Don’t worry if you don’t because after reading this post you will, and you will also know how inbound and PR fit together quite nicely.
Let’s start with PR.
As per definition, public relations is the communications process concerned with building relationships between an organisation and its publics.
Going back to a few decades ago, PR was mainly concerned with media relations, events, reputation and crisis management, and investor relations. In fact, for a very long time public relations and media relations were considered synonymous (some still think so).
PR is not just media relations
But PR now is not and shouldn’t be just media relations. Because today, the arsenal of PR activities has increased enormously. Media relations can simply be one of those activities.
As Gini Dietrich explains, PR people are now responsible for generating leads, nurturing them and helping sales close them by making use of content marketing (ebooks, whitepapers, videos, podcasts, blog posts), email marketing, social media, SEO, blogger relations, online reputation management, crisis communications and more.
And here’s where the link between PR and inbound is – in using the inbound marketing methodology to drive tangible and trackable results.
So, what’s inbound then?
Content at the centre of inbound
Inbound is about getting found. It’s about creating remarkable content and sharing it with the world so that people can find it and come to you, instead of you having to find and chase them.
Modern inbound marketing uses blogs, ebooks, whitepapers, videos, SEO, webinars and social, whereas traditional outbound marketing includes cold calling, TV and print ads, direct mail and trade shows. As you can see, the key difference is that outbound interrupts, inbound attracts. And it attracts with content.
Be your own media company
As mentioned, inbound PR is not just about the media anymore, it’s about you doing your own PR with your own content on your own channels. You no longer need an intermediary (unless you’re aiming high – Financial Times etc), today you can and should be your own media company.
Use your site, use your blog, use your social media platforms to tell your stories and engage with people. Have them find you, don’t chase them.
The same applies to the media. Journalists now use online and social profiles to actively do research, in fact, social and mobile now dictate the journalistic craft. They use social to build their brands and find stories on their own. They don’t need to wait to be pitched, and they don’t want to. They spam email pitches – their inbox is crazy (isn’t yours too?). So, do them a favour – have them find you. In case you really want to get in touch with them, try Twitter or LinkedIn.
Let influencers remark on your content
And don’t forget that journalists are not the only influencers today. Bloggers, celebrities, YouTubers, but also normal people can have huge social media networks and if your content is fascinating, if it’s worth remarking, they will share it. The word about you will spread via their messages, which are actually endorsements of you, your content, your stories, your work. Do you see how content can be powerful?
Pre-internet, you would get your news and information from radio, TV or newspapers. You couldn’t skip the ads. Other than the advice from close friends and family, you couldn’t find reviews of products anywhere.
We had less choice. How we were influenced to purchase and how we made buying decisions was not as sophisticated and media-channel-networks rich as it is today. There were fewer journalists, fewer media outlets. There was simply less information freely available and easily findable.
PR pros need to get inbound
As you can see, drafting a press release, sending it to journalists with a mass email and expecting well-spread coverage is a myth of the past.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be using press releases anymore, or reaching out to a journalist, it means that as a PR pro you need to adapt to the new world of content.
You need to focus less on the media and more on the publics, on the people that you want to reach.
Then you need to use the tools, the channels and the content formats that these people would actually like to find, read, watch and then share.
This is the only way you can drive awareness, attract customers, the media and other influencers. This way you can stand out and build lasting relationships with various publics.
If you are out there, then you are findable, you are available, you are engage-able. Just start writing and publishing. Use the power of your own content and own web presence.
Creating your own news would drive inbound interest and traffic to your site. And if you have multiple content pieces that are remarkable, people will be spending more time on your site wanting to learn more about you, downloading your ebooks from your landing pages and subscribing to your blog posts or newsletter. This way they will become genuinely interested in what you have to offer and so next time you send them a lead nurturing email, they will actually open it, read it and click on the link in it. If you do this right, they might even get in touch with you asking for your help.
See, with inbound it’s the other way around – you pull people in, you don’t have to be pushy and be the person that first reaches out with cold messages and pitches.
The WIIFM factor
So, next time you are working on a PR campaign, think about drafting that press release, putting it on your news section on your site so that journalists can find, but don’t stop there – write a blog posts using more human language to share the story and your perspective as well as why should it matter to your readers and customers, what’s in it for them and why should they care about it.
Notice something here? It’s about them, not you.
Focus on the benefits for them – your customers, your readers, the influencers.
Bear this in mind when we speak about media here: A journalist’s role is not to promote you, your business and your products, it’s to write a great story that will get read by the right audience and that fits with their media outlet. Respect that. Give journalists what they need, not what you need and want.
When you are creating content for your own channels, make sure you speak the same language as your audience and be on the same level. Don’t try to impress with pompous or highly technical words. Be relevant and resonate with the language your audience uses every day. Make it easy for them to consume and understand what you are saying.
Why is this so important?
Because information and education are powerful. They are the primary purchase drivers today.
Today, you inform and educate with content. You empower with your storytelling. And as a PR pro, storytelling and writing are the skills that make you stand out among the other professions.
Do you see now why PR must embrace inbound?