When we talk about outbound and inbound, this is how you should think about it: outbound means pushing messages out there to journalists or potential customers for volumes-sake so that it goes out and hopefully reaches as many people as possible; inbound means pulling the right people in with relevant messages that they find on their own and choose to consume of their own will whenever they decide to.
That's what's changed over the past few decades ‒ consumers have become far more sophisticated, educated and guarded with devices, tools and apps to ignore you. Or if you do your job well, to pay attention to you.
This is the world we live in ‒ a constant fight for attention because of a complete saturation with content and information everywhere, all the time, from anyone, brands and ordinary people.
To build a sphere of influence in such a tough environment is a hard job. Usually, that's the job of PR people so I don't envy their new reality. But to stay relevant and manage to break through that attention bubble, PR people need to turn to inbound. They need to combine the good parts of the outbound world and use them for inbound.
Inbound PR focuses on all things digital across paid, earned, social and owned media (PESO) and with this post I want to show you a few ways in which you can turn traditional PR activities into Inbound PR activities. Here we go.
How to Turn Outbound PR into Inbound PR
I've written a whole blog post about how to do media relations the inbound way, but the main gist really is that in the digital world, there's no need for crazy journalist cold calling and mass emailing to pitch your story. Don't chase journalists. Give them a reason to chase you or the business you represent.
Just as with customers, you can pull the media in too with relevant content that they can find when they do research. You can do this by turning your (dry) press releases into more engaging, keyword-optimised blog posts, videos or even infographics and additionally creating an inbound PR newsroom on your website where you can store all of this, including your press release copies for future reference and as a search bank for the journalists that poke around your website.
And then of course, you can still do your media outreach, but do in a way that the journalists you want to target prefer, meaning that you need to do your research about them too and be on point on the right channel, whether Twitter or LinkedIn or with a comment on an article they've written.
Research and Reports
This is another type of content that PR people usually take care of ‒ the presentation of big research and reports (e.g. yearly reports, sustainability reports etc.) and spreading them through the media.
What I find most shocking is that all those super valuable, filled with lots of information PDF files are just put there on the website as a free downloadable link and anyone can get a free copy of a report that's taken months or a whole year to create. And so you can't even measure how they end up performing.
Here's a solution for you. Keep your PDFs, but instead of offering them as a hyperlink, create a landing page where you ask people to fill out a form with their name, email address, company (or whatever info you need) and only those who fill this out, can get the report. This way you don't give away such valuable pieces of content for free, but you exchange them for direct contact details that you can use to engage with these people further as they've clearly shown interest (they filled out that form, right?).
Speaking of all the content mentioned above ‒ press releases, infographics, research and reports ‒ don't stop at your own media channels or hoping to gain some earned media through inbound media relations.
Go a step further and offer to write guest posts on relevant online magazines or blogs. You'd be surprised how appreciated such pieces of work are (provided they are relevant and of interest to the publication's readers).
This will allow you to share your own content in your own words (you control it!), achieve more reach and audience attention, and most importantly get some link building going because usually the publication would reference you as the writer and link to your website. And as you probably know, having a number of authoritative websites linking to yours is extremely important for SEO and getting your page higher in search results.
Brochures and Catalogues
Another thing I've seen PR people do a lot is creating collateral. Brochures, catalogues, all that print materials being transmitted here and there. Don't get me wrong, such materials are needed at events for example, but why leave it only there? Why not turning them into infographics, PDFs hidden on landing pages on your inbound PR newsroom, or even better, mobile apps for people to browse and learn more or quizzes and bots to find what's best suited for their needs?
Interactive content is growing in importance so now is the time to repurpose all that materials and collateral you already have for the online world.
The main learning here is that you need to find ways to be there where your consumers are and that means stepping out of your comfort zone and embracing all the possibilities that digital offers. Yes, it's going to take a while but why stay outboundy stuck? It's better to take a risk now, learn, adopt, adjust and welcome the inbound era.
What other outbound activities could you turn into Inbound PR?
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