A few years ago, the founders of a marketing automation software company published a popular book on the topic of inbound marketing. The book discusses the benefits of blogging and SEO at length, but doesn’t include anything about PR’s relationship to inbound marketing.
In fact, it only contains a seven-page chapter about public relations.
Those seven pages communicated only two things. One is that you probably don’t need a public relations agency at all and, two, that public relations agencies are mostly good at one thing: interrupting print journalists to pitch self-serving puff pieces.
Unfortunately, these authors, like many marketers who came from the worlds of SEO, content management systems, or web design, missed the critical value that a public relations strategy can add to an inbound marketing program.
PR Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Transitioning
PR is neither irrelevant to inbound marketing nor an afterthought or add-on. Indeed, PR should be the story generator that drives your entire inbound marketing engine.
Earning exposure with good story ideas rather than paying for it with advertising has been PR’s driving force for decades. Everything Idea Grove does as a digital agency, for example – from website outreach to establishing Google authority for our clients to “newsjacking” on social media – is derived from traditional PR practices. So why do so many marketers leave PR out of the equation?
Probably because there’s a common misconception as to what PR actually does. People seem to think being in PR is about who you know instead of what you know. But it’s more than just taking editors and reporters to coffee; it’s about what you say during the coffee.
Most of the stereotypical practices people associate with PR professionals really only apply to the ones who aren’t very good at it. For PR practitioners who are competent at their craft, it’s never about “blowing hot air.” You’re not going to get a second coffee with that journalist if you don’t provide some useful information – in the form of compelling, journalistic story ideas.
PR Is About Real Ideas, Real Stories
PR is about developing story ideas that can pass muster with the news media. And these are exactly the kind of stories that you can build your entire inbound marketing program around.
It’s perfectly summed up by what Edward Bernays, one of the fathers of PR, said 90 years ago: “PR must create news in order to appeal to the instincts and fundamental emotions of the public.”
Create news, not product pitches. As it turns out, this “new trend” toward providing educational, high-quality content traces back to PR strategies and tactics that have been around forever.
The transition from a world of mainstream media gatekeepers to a world of direct communication through blogs and social media has changed the PR landscape. But at the same time, it has made PR’s unique gift more important than ever. When it comes to driving inbound marketing success, many of the most effective practices are just reinventions (or renaming) of tried-and-true PR techniques.
Check back next week as we discuss these reinventions and how PR professionals and marketers are using them to raise brand awareness and grow thought leadership.