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Why Inbound PR Is The Future Of Public Relations

Most people think that public relations is the happy-go-lucky relationship between PR specialists and the media.

However, the practice isn’t synonymous with monthly coffee meetings with journalists and publishers, and long gone are the days emailing a press release to every local writer you can Google.

While these tactics can still have some impact, they’re too traditional for the fast-paced world of digital media.

At INBOUND 2016, we learned about the future of PR and how marketing is completely changing the game:

What Is Public Relations?

Hubspotter Iliyana Stareva put it very clearly: She said that advertising is saying your product or service is good, while public relations is getting someone else to say it for you.

How Does Inbound Methodology Fit In?

Quite seamlessly, and surprisingly not a lot of people in the room put that together prior to this session. Stareva began by splashing cold water on our faces by proclaiming that “PR people suck at measurement.”

After that refreshing admission of truth, she explained that it wasn’t the end of the world. In fact, it was only the beginning.

By marrying the creativity and storytelling capabilities of content with the analytics and strategy behind marketing, public relations can soar to new heights. Add the inbound methodology and funnel, and you have Stareva’s Loveology formula for inbound and PR.

Why Inbound PR?

Stareva gave listeners a few key reasons as to why this method works:

  • Brands have too many stakeholders, and digital media is evolving faster than any brand can handle. Customers are empowered by online information.
  • Everyone with a social media account is an influencer on some level. People do their own PR with their content on their preferred channels.
  • Outbound PR strategies (cold calling, coffee meetings, and throw-me-a-bone emails) can’t reach everyone. It’s also interruptive, unattractive, and uninviting.

How Does This Fit In With The Inbound Process?

It begins with visitors, who look at blogs, SEO, social publishing, and press releases.

Those visitors become media leads after filling out forms, clicking CTAs, visiting landing pages, and going to your Newsroom.

Media leads then become publishers, committing to emails, social, events, and exclusive content offers. As these leads engage more often on social media and click through inbound links, they become repeat publishers.

Sound familiar?

How Exactly Do You Do Inbound PR?

Here are the seven steps to planning an inbound public relations campaign:

  1. Nail your stakeholder personas by interviewing and doing research. Remember: Data is always better than assumptions.
  2. Define your stakeholders’ journey. Using inbound methodology and the funnel, you can understand where the media is coming from and attract them:
    1. Awareness: Journalists need to write a story
    2. Consideration: They research ideas
    3. Decision: They pick a story and brands related to it
  3. Create a content plan that begins by answering your stakeholder personas’ questions.
  4. Promote your content more than once, and use the SPINSUCKS model to think about how to leverage each channel:
    1. Earned media
    2. Paid media (digital ads)
    3. Owned media (your personal accounts)
    4. Shared media (social-sharing websites)
  5. Do inbound media relations by setting up a Newsroom tab on your website or including the information in a blog post. This way the media can visit it on their time, and there’s less room for error.
  6. Nurture your new media leads by using data and planning with potential outcomes and goals in mind.
  7. Measure the results with Google Analytics, a coverage book, and other evaluation framework.

According to Stareva, “It's about time for PR to grow up, adapt, and do things with measurement in mind.” And our team couldn’t agree more.

For more information on this session, you can check out Stareva’s slide deck here. 

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