Inbound PRBy Iliyana Stareva

Raise your hand if you agree with the following statements:

  1. PR people excel at content.
  2. PR people suck at measurement.

I really wish we could poll this now.

I’m pretty sure the majority of you agree with me. Even if you’ve been working in the PR industry for just a few months, you’ve probably come to the same conclusion.

(Editor’s Note: When I speak to groups of PR pros, I always ask how many went into PR because they hate math. Everyone, save one or two people, raise their hands. So I’d venture to guess you’re right.)

On the other hand, with the rapid growth of digital, there’s never been a better time for PR to shine and prove that it can be a sales machine too, not just a reputation driver.

Why Push No Longer Works

The way we buy has fundamentally changed. We are a lot more sophisticated and we feel empowered to go online, do our research, read recommendations, tweet at companies with questions and demand answers to our problems through the content we find.

We don’t want to be marketed at—we want the freedom to choose based on our own online experiences.

What this means for business today is that not being found online means non-existent.

Content is the name of the buying game today. And who’s better suited to create fascinating content than PR people?

PR pros have always been great writers and storytellers—that’s at the heart of what we do.

The Challenge with PR Measurement

But measurement… That’s another story. Google “measuring PR” and you’ll find plenty of articles trashing PR’s inability to show ROI. 

Marketers, ad guys, and digital experts, on the other hand, struggle with content but they are good at measurement—something PR pros are still at odds with and is ruining our reputation.

So, we have a problem here, right?

Don’t worry, I have the solution.

Inbound PR: Content + Measurement

Enter inbound PR—where content meets measurement and helps PR show the actual ROI of its activities.

The inbound PR concept combines the best of two worlds: Public relations and the inbound marketing methodology.

As mentioned earlier, the old world of push is gone. Inbound is about attracting people to your business rather than bombarding them with ads, direct mail or sales pitches.

How do you do that?

With content that is helpful, educational, and buyer-persona relevant.

Buyer Personas and the Buyer’s Journey as Key

Buyer personas are representations of your ideal customers. You need to know their pain points and challenges as well as the questions they’re asking so that you can create content that answers them. Only so will your content be relevant.

Defining the buyer’s journey or the active process your customers go through before making a purchase decision is also key.

It consists of three stages:

  • Awareness: Your buyer personas realize they have a problem, e.g. not enough website traffic.
  • Consideration: They’re now actively researching solutions to that problem, e.g. how-to guides on increasing traffic.
  • Decision: They’re evaluating products or vendors to help them solve that problem, e.g. PR agencies good at content and content promotion.

Research shows your potential customers want to go through the buyer’s journey. You need to know what it looks like to create the right content that covers it.

Building Your Own Content Machine

Nailing your buyer persona and the buyer’s journey is the most important piece of your inbound PR campaigns.

It’s your content strategy and is the first thing you have to do before creation. Otherwise your content machine won’t work. You’ll just be randomly throwing things at people with no clear idea of what’s working or not, why it’s working or not.

Next, you need to develop a content plan with offers such as eBooks, whitepapers, and webinars for each buyer’s journey stage, and put them on designated landing pages.

Once you have that, make sure you write relevant blog posts to promote those offers and include CTAs that lead to your landing pages at the end. Use social media as well as email marketing to promote your content.

Finally, track the performance of these assets—traffic from blog posts, click-through rate on CTAs, email open and click-through rates, landing pages conversion rate, and lead-to-customer rate.

You see now how you can do your own PR with your own content and on your own channels? That’s how you pull people in, build your brand, and ultimately drive business growth.

How Inbound Media Relations Works

Not only that, with inbound PR you turn into a media company. With your content, you position yourself as a knowledgeable expert in your industry.

That not only attracts customers, it attracts the media, too. Journalists and other influencers—such as bloggers—will seek your opinion or ideas for collaboration.

Isn’t it great to have them come to you, rather than you spending time pitching?

Using #PRstack to Get Started with Inbound PR

Now you might be asking “How do I do inbound PR when I can’t afford one of those fancy marketing software tools?”

Don’t worry; #PRstack has you covered here. With a little bit of preparation and planning, you can create your own software solution by combining some of the tools from #PRstack.

Here’s what you need:

I know this looks like a lot, but they are all pretty easy-to-use and the biggest hurdle is setting them up. Once you integrate them into your daily activities, it all starts to work seamlessly.

And here you have it! Your inbound PR campaigns are up and running. You know what you are putting into and you know what you are getting out.

That’s inbound PR—it combines PR’s biggest strength and biggest challenge: Content + measurement.

Are you ready to embark on your inbound PR journey?

image credit: Verve PR 

Iliyana Stareva

Iliyana Stareva is a Channel Consultant at HubSpot, helping partner agencies grow their businesses with inbound marketing and position themselves as thought leaders in their fields. She spends her free time dancing salsa or writing about PR, social media, communications and sustainability, expertise gathered from years of agency experience working for PR and social media consultancies in Germany and in the UK.

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