You most likely have heard of Inbound Marketing – a famed tool used by all marketers today for spotting, developing and nurturing prospects to become customers. Inbound Marketing was created a bit more than 10 years ago by a company named Hubspot (by the way, they have a very good & free online Inbound Marketing class).
The Inbound methodology is built around 4 key practices which are:
- Attracting the Prospect – This is achieved by creating compelling content such as blog post, infographic or podcast which the prospect (also known as a customer or marketing or buyer persona) will most likely be interested and be attracted to your marketing / advertising media
- Converting – e. transforming the prospect into a potential sales lead. By this stage some level of trust has been build and the prospect might be thinking of making a purchase.
- Closing – This stage is when the prospect is ready to commit / to become a customer. They might still request a demo, discount etc.
- Delighting – This is the stage where the prospect is now a customer. Hence this stage requires consistent customer communication and support as well as updates and upgrades that have been made on the product since his / her last purchase.
Although the idea of Inbound Marketing as an effective marketing technique is quite young, it has gained natural roots within the worldwide marketing community and has grown really quickly.
According to the 2017 Hubspot inbound Insights: 68% of inbound marketers believe their organization’s marketing strategy is effective. Due to the efficacy of inbound techniques, 1/3 of marketers think outbound marketing tactics are overrated.
The Inbound Concept for PR.
The Inbound technique is the new wave in marketing but does it also work for Public Relations?
Simple Answer: Yes
Besides marketing, the Inbound methodology can be applied to the PR domain (see Inbound Marketing and PR image) as well as any other communications arena.
Public Relations has always been about informing the masses or certain sections of the masses on a particular issue or idea or other communicable ‘item’. This is primarily done through the media. Professionals in the PR industry have historically been slow adopters of technology and they have not been keeping up with the current digital realities not have they actively penetrated the digital landscape.
Most professionals are still stuck in the phase of distributing press releases and building a book of media contacts who will publish their stories which is the basis of traditional media.
Inbound PR is also not advertising in the strictest sense of the word. To differentiate between the two, keep in mind that “Advertising is about screaming to prospects how good your organization is but PR is getting everybody to say how good your organization is”
Inbound PR in the context of modern communication.
Inbound PR is using compelling content to inform the public about your brand by employing various modes of communication through PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned) media:
- Paid media is actually buying a slot either on traditional and social media to communicate content to your publics. Paid media does not mean advertising the PR content but must be driven towards information, education and acknowledgement.
In traditional PR, entertainment focused paid media is also a consideration- for example P & G (Proctor & Gamble) introduced the Soap Operas (in the 40s-50s) to show their appreciation to housewives using their cleaning products (this the name Soap Opera) by entertaining them every day.
- Earned media means getting the media -be it traditional or digital- to talk about your brand.
- Shared media has to do with the social media platforms and online publishing platforms such as Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
- Owned media has to do with a corporation’s own portals such as its websites, and social media channels and pages.
P&G still produces Soap Operas and actually now they have their own writers and production company. So, they turned their Paid media action into an Owned one.
Marriott is doing now the same, with Storytelling (google the 2 BellBoys video- series please)
Please keep in mind that not every communication from a PR Agency on behalf of a client does not necessarily have to be a press release. Especially in the technological age where there is an abundance of real-time publishing platforms.
Personas as Key Drivers for Inbound PR’s Success
Once again, PR professionals need to stay away from the “spray & pray & pay” approach to content distribution. Before content will be distributed, companies need to spend some time learning about their Marketing and PR Customer Personas. How? By literally spending time to build actual personas. It makes it easier to target the right media contacts and recipients of information.
Creating Personas for inbound PR means asking important questions like
- What issues / topics do my prospects care about?
- How do they source for information?
- What type of language are my personas comfortable with (formal or slang)?
- Will my personas be interested in formal written text or infographic?
Promotion of PR Content
Most PR professionals are also guilty of not finding ingenious ways of distributing PR Content. There is this erroneous impression that has been created that PR content must be shared once. That should not be the case when it comes to Inbound PR. There must be a consistent and frequent strategy to share content more times than once.
Content can also be re-purposed to fit another type of demographic – especially in 2018 where Digital has forced markets to be further fragmented. For example a Press Release can be re-purposed as an infographic, video or blogpost. Or re-purposed for different distribution channels.
As PR content builds up, corporations can then focus on building newsrooms on their websites with a capable search bar to help visitors find the specific information they need.
Inbound PR will help progressive content-focused organizations stand out because the industry is flooded with so many Press Releases that journalist have a hard time choosing which to publish in the first place.
Example: the average American journalist receives more that 1,200-1900+ Press Releases a day.
Who is using Inbound PR?
- Virgin Group
- Goldman Sachs
- Mondelez International
Measuring and Analytics
This is one of the fields the PR industry is truly lacking. Media monitoring and evaluating content via hard statistics is virtually non-existent. This can also be equated to the “spray and pray” approach and what it means that most PR firms are not backing their content plans with hard data to know what type of content works and what doesn’t for their audiences.
Inbound PR focuses specifically on analytics but this is the topic on a forthcoming article that we are busy with – too big of a topic to properly address it now.
Some of the tools PR professionals could use for proper analytics include:
- Google Analytics
- Hoot suite
- Coverage book
Why analytics for Inbound PR?
- Helps you determine which content strategy works best – therefore guiding and directing you as to how to tune content to meet your various personas’ needs
- Measure open rate and share rates of content
- Helps in better pricing
Inbound PR in Ghana + Special Offer to B&FT readers
HireLoyalty is the sole company is Ghana that specialises in Inbound PR solutions for large corporates and SMEs. Our expertise spans years of research and valuable case studies that can be used to help your brand. In fact, HireLoyalty started as an Inbound PR project of HIREghana and has evolved into an independent company.
We are happy to offer a free 20-minute Strategy Call to help you with your Inbound PR. Please send us a direct message (details at end of the article) and we will reach out to schedule a call . Although this is absolutely free with zero obligations, limited slots are available for this Strategy Call.
Finally, time-permitting, we will be briefly talking about Inbound PR during our May 11th talk at Workshed Accra.
Thank you and Good Luck .
Kwaku and Spiros
About the authors:
Spiros Tsaltas –a former University Professor & PR Practitioner, and Kwaku Abedi -an uprising Digital PRofessional, are PRrincipals at HireLoyalty (www.HireLoyalty.com) , the only Loyalty PR company in West Africa that Consults (How-To) , Measures (Test-To) and Trains (Learn-To) in anything relating to Customer Loyalty and Loyalty- focused PR.