Why Inbound Marketing is the New PR

Published on September 27, 2017

Inbound marketing and PR have much more in common than many brands think – in fact, the argument could certainly be made that, today, they’re really one in the same!

How do we know? Well, first, some definitions! SearchCRM defines inbound marketing as:

 “a strategy that focuses on attracting customers, or leads, via company-created Internet content, thereby having potential customers come to the company rather than marketers vying for their attention.”

In other words, inbound is about making your brand available on search engines, social media, and email, so that consumers, who are already scouring the internet looking for solutions to their problems, are able to find and engage with your business.

Meanwhile, the Public Relations Society of America (or PRSA) defines PR, or Public Relations, as:

“a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Looking at those two definitions in sequence, it’s easy to see why, today, more and more brands are merging their PR and inbound marketing teams. After all, their goals, at their core, are fundamentally the same – connecting the public with a business by means of strategic messaging. In the end, the customer’s needs are fulfilled, the brand profits, and everyone benefits - and it all stems from the simple, beautiful act of communication!

Where divisions between the long-standing field of PR and the emerging (and ascendant) inbound marketing model crop up, the source of the argument generally comes down to the type of messaging being used.

Some would argue, for instance, that a press release, so vital as a tool in PR, can’t be effective as an inbound traffic-generator; for others, social media isn’t a PR channel, but purely a content marketing delivery vehicle.

The Geek Chicago argument? Drawing lines in the sand is a fool’s task, and one that will only hinder your brand’s ability to grow and cultivate a deeper pool of customers! Drawing from our own experience with brands around the country, here’s why adopting PR strategies can actually help bolster your inbound marketing success – and vice versa:

1.) They’re Both About Content

At the end of the day, PR and inbound are both about controlling the messaging around your brand by putting out materials that help guide the conversation in a beneficial direction. For a long time, the most effective tool in the PR practitioner’s belt was the press release, a targeted burst of information that helps get your brand’s latest and greatest updates out to the news media and the public at large.

Now, press releases still have their place! But it’s also important to realize that there are countless forms of media available today, many of which are going to spread your newsworthy information further, and faster, than a conventional PR blast.

We’re talking, here, about all sorts of things – infographics, social videos, image-based posts, eBooks, slideshows, user reviews on major aggregation sites. All of these can help strategically spread your brand message directly to the consumer, in ways that were unheard of even a decade ago – and which all have a proven track record of increasing chatter, engagement, and lead generation.

What’s more, dominating multiple channels with your brand’s messaging is a way of establishing your thought leadership within the field. The more that users see your content, the more trustworthy and dependable they’ll find it, and the more likely they’ll be to engage with your brand down the road!

But let’s say you’re still trying to keep it simple, and avoid multimedia in lieu of a conventional, text-based piece of content. The reality is that, today, your PR pro is still going to have to know some inbound marketing techniques if they ever want that press release to be discovered and consumed by the right people.

The internet is a more crowded place than ever before, and, in order to cut through the noise, you’ll have to make sure that any branded content you release is SEO-primed on the front-end (i.e., highly readable, educational, valuable, and evergreen) and the back (i.e., strategically keyword-optimized, with a plan for developing backlinks already in place).

PR is all about crafting the message, and inbound is all about making sure that the message is found; can your business really afford to have one without the other?

2.) They’re Both About Reaching the Right Audience

Historically, successful PR and successful inbound marketing both depend on reaching the best audience possible, on connecting your brand with the groups most likely to amplify your message and the individual consumers most likely to make a purchase.

Today’s inbound marketing tools make cultivating and reaching this ideal audience easier than ever before!

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, for instance, have vastly simplified what we call “social PR;” today, your brand can pass along any updates, media coverage, or otherwise important content directly to your most ardent followers by sharing it via social. At the same time, savvy brands can use social media to effectively listen – whether that means keeping on top of the latest talk and trends in your industry, finding what consumers are saying about your brand, or actively responding to positive and negative feedback in quick and productive way.

And this is all organic social media; today, most platforms can (and should) also be used as paid advertising platforms, as well. Using social media for advertising will allow you to narrowly target your messaging, meaning that you’ll be able to exclusively communicate with the audience most likely to respond to your brand messaging, whether by focusing on specific demographics or retargeting users who have already shown an interest in your product.

Email, too, is a powerful inbound tool with distinctly PR-based applications: In addition to driving in traffic, digital newsletters can be a powerful way to retain customers and continue to engage with your audience, even after their initial purchase. Updates, deals, funny stories, educational content – all of these can be have a remarkable effect when they reach your ideal customer directly in their inbox!

3.) They Both Require Analysis and Monitoring

One of the major knocks against traditional PR is that it can be difficult to gauge what effect it’s actually having. Besides tracking profit margins and polling focus groups, how can you realistically tell whether or not your message is having an impact?

One of the great things about inbound marketing, in contrast, is that it’s quite easy to quantify and track – and the metrics we apply to inbound can actually be a great reflection on the overall efficacy of a brand’s PR efforts, to boot.

Overall site traffic, SEO ranking, social followership and engagement, lead conversion rates – these are all raw numbers gathered through analytics reporting, but they suggest patterns in real human behavior and feeling, from which you can make deeper extrapolations about your audience and hone your brand’s messaging even further.

Get some positive news coverage one week? With the analytics provided by an inbound marketer, you can see how that local report correlates directly to the traffic coming to your site! Have a negative earnings report? With social media monitoring tools in place, you can gauge exactly how that bad news translates into responses on social media.

The possibilities of an integrated PR and inbound marketing campaign, in short, are endless – but first, you have to get started. That’s where Geek comes in! Drop us a line today to see what a comprehensive approach to content marketing can do for you!