Public relations, despite having been around for more than a century, has always had issues measuring ROI for—let’s be honest—practically the entirety of that century. Other disciplines such as digital marketing, digital advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) have played more pivotal roles in today’s digital strategies simply because PR has struggled to prove its worth; however, that is changing. As mentioned in a previous article, traditional PR is dead. And for a good reason. Now, a new approach to PR allows marketers, startup owners and PR professionals to yield valuable results once and for all.
Many startups get confused when it comes to earning media, mostly because of the evident difference between how they approach PR and other marketing practices —traditionally, when it comes to PR, they only consider the storytelling part of the message they want to convey, without even considering the real ROI of all those efforts. But what if there was a way to merge PR with the goal setting methodology of inbound marketing? Inbound PR, one of the many things that will certainly fall under the umbrella of PR before long.
The link between PR and inbound marketing allows startups and pretty much everyone who has tried PR in the past to take a look at its intricacies from a different perspective —taking in what inbound marketing does really well, which basically revolves around setting business goals in a very practical and measurable way, figuring out the right tactics to achieve them whilst aligning them with expected ROI and revenue.
By building up the business brilliance and wisdom that inbound marketing teaches you, you can start taking a look at your PR efforts through a different lens. Traditionally, what companies, regardless of their size and PR expertise, have done in terms of PR is to send out messages out there in hopes of earning media. Of course, you may be highly familiar with the ways they do that: direct email, traditional advertising, traditional press releases, etc. Although many companies may have achieved positive results from those well-known, and to some extent worn-out, tactics, the truth is those have always been intrusive and interrupt consumer experience rather than make it better.
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Now, the idea is to create content that is relevant to your buyers and your audience and publish it through your different channels, making people come to you because the content you create is relevant and resonates with your consumers and potential prospects in a much deeper way. That’s one of the lessons of the inbound methodology and that’s basically what it does, and that’s also where PR comes into play.
Given the fact that people don’t want to be interrupted by random messages from brands or companies they are not aware of, and also given the fact that PR people are astounding content creators and storytellers, PR takes up a notch the inbound methodology by integrating the whole content format inbound habitually uses. Thus, instead of pushing and sending out messages with no strategy whatsoever in mind, PR people can develop content for all the profiles a specific company strives to reach whilst harnessing their own storytelling capabilities —which ultimately adds value to the communications. The main difference here is that inbound PR takes a lot of what inbound marketing excels at whilst leveraging the strengths that PR as a digital marketing tactic has, allowing startups and PR agencies to have a much clearer insight, with numbers in mind, on how their core is being affected by the messages they convey to all the audiences they reach out to.
When we speak about having the numbers in mind and how your customer’s or your company’s, in case you are a PR agency, bottom line is affected, we mean that by knowing what metrics you should pay special attention to you can measure how your PR efforts help generate prospects and leads, be those consumers or media contacts, which ultimately help break through the noise out there. Also consider all the collateral storytelling that PR people generate that can be used by your sales team, for example, to continue engaging and nurturing prospects.
Under those circumstances, in case you’re considering to start a PR campaign, the first thing you’ve got to do is to define your goals—which are essentially company core driven—and think: who do I need to generate this impact for? Which persona or media channel am I targeting with this message? What type of content do they like to consume? What kind of stories are they familiar with? With those questions in mind, as a startup, you can think about PR as a continuous, scalable, but most importantly measurable in terms of ROI, exercise.
PR really focuses on two main things—it promotes your company to consumers and media channels and protects your business from negative publicity that could damage your reputation or you brand. A well-crafted inbound PR strategy also impacts your business in four different ways:
Although mostly in B2C, the proper piece of press coverage on the proper media channel can get hundreds of leads and also impacts website traffic in a positive way. Once thought of as a byproduct or a traditional PR effort, this is now more than possible. And it is even more possible if you happen to be a startup or a small company in a specific market —getting your company featured in a major publication gets the approval that often leads to a sale.
Oh yes, those venture capitalists folks are really fond of PR. Got great and frequent press coverage? You just increased your chances of getting that funding you’ve been craving so much. Inbound PR allows you to come up with a clear story that stands a better chance of being considered by this specific group of individuals. Bear in mind that digital PR is seen by investors as a double-edged sword as well: if you’re receiving good coverage but you’re not raising enough money, then you must be doing something wrong.
Individuals always want to work for people who are pioneering the future of tomorrow. Those actually making a difference. A well crafted inbound PR strategy can get people excited about your brand or your startup. What do you think that great developer is going to do immediately after getting that call from you or from your recruiting team? Exactly —they are going to google you and, guess what? Exactly —you are going to appear in the search results. Be advised that this is also a double-edged sword as well, so strive to focus your company efforts on doing something positive.
In today’s rapidly evolving economic landscape, it has never been more important to articulate the story you want to convey in order to cut through the noise. Great PR, achieved through inbound PR, helps your company cement its image as a thought leader or expert in a specific field. The media normally loves thought leaders, as they always generate positive noise and their stories are easy to address and distribute. In fact, it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
So, is PR changing? Yes. Is it measurable in terms of ROI? If you pay attention to the metrics, yes. Is it cost-effective? Yes, and in fact it happens to also be efficient and a great way to build your company’s reputation and brand, but only if you do it consistently and tailored to both your audience and the media channels you want to reach.
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