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Why Startups Should Ditch Traditional PR and Focus on Inbound PR

startup inbound marketing PR
As a startup, you probably don’t know how to do PR at all. You don’t have the experience nor the internal capabilities or resources.

On the other hand, you can’t afford to hire a PR agency that’s going to be able to do PR the right way for you.

But you’re just starting out as a business and you are not known, so you do need PR to generate awareness and positive word of mouth about your brand with the end goal of driving more sales.

So, you can’t do it on your own, you can’t pay an agency, but you need it. Hm, isn’t that a catch 22?

Don’t worry, I have the solution for you.

You should ditch traditional PR and adopt inbound PR.

Now you’re probably wondering, “What the hell is inbound PR? I’ve never heard of that.”

I’ll teach you.

In its very essence, inbound PR is the best of two worlds – inbound marketing methodology and traditional PR as we know it. It’s the combination of both practices that makes PR relevant in our inbound world.

Let’s look into each practice first.

How Do We Define Traditional PR?

One of the leading PR bodies – the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) – argues that “Public relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behavior. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organization and its publics.”

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) – the other major global PR institution – has defined the practice as follows: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

So as you can see, PR is all about reputation and engaging in meaningful relationships with various publics. The way you do this is with content. Often, that means publishing press releases and using media relations to spread valuable information. Heavily relying on media has been a traditional tenet of PR, but with the emergence of social and digital, the need for an intermediary – the media – has diminished. PR can now engage directly with customers, prospects, investors, and any stakeholder group using online channels.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

The way we make decisions and buy things has fundamentally changed. We used to rely on direct sales and direct mail, or on TV and magazine ads. We couldn’t do much research, we didn’t need much convincing as the array of choice for products and services wasn’t that vast.

But we are a lot more sophisticated now, we do our research online, we check recommendations on social, we read and get information, we compare vendors and products, we barely speak to sales people. We do everything on our own. We make decisions based on the content we find.

We don’t like it when someone interrupts that process (like ads – we skip them). But we like to be engaged, enticed, and drawn into something interesting.

That’s what inbound is all about. It’s about attracting people with the right content.

The concept of the inbound marketing methodology was developed by HubSpot and consists of four key steps:

  • Attracting people to your website with blogs, social media and SEO.
  • Converting your website visitors into leads with calls-to-actions, landing pages and forms.
  • Closing leads into customers with emails and marketing automation.
  • Delighting your customers with more remarkable content, blogs, emails and social media in order to keep them.

And you can do all of that on your website as long as you commit to it, develop a content strategy that covers each of those steps, and continuously create that content (on your own) and heavily promote it so that it can spread.

Now that we know what PR means and what inbound marketing is all about, let’s look into this new concept of inbound PR.

Traditional PR + Inbound Marketing = Inbound PR

As we’ve seen so far, both PR and inbound marketing rely heavily on content. Remarkable content is, in fact, the very key ingredient of each practice.

That’s the glue between the two.

What sets inbound PR apart from traditional PR is the ability to measure results.

PR has always been known for its lacking capability to show the real ROI of its activities – you can’t really put a $ or a number of new customers to a written piece in a magazine. With inbound, quantifying efforts is possible – you know very well how your blog posts perform with regards to views and shares. And the same goes for your landing pages and the conversion rates you get there — you know how many people open your emails and click on the links in them, you can track the entire journey of those website visitors and know when and how they become customers. What better way of proving the return on PR activities than tying each piece of content to a customer?

On the other hand, marketers tend to struggle with content, it’s a challenge. But PR is the master of content. Storytelling comes and fits naturally. And that’s the type of content that engages, that entices, that converts on your landing pages.

Any organizational material can become an inbound content tool – simply turn your press releases into blog posts, infographics, videos, whitepapers, ebooks etc. and use your own channels to promote them and generate leads, rather than relying on the media as your intermediary to drive awareness for you.

If you do want to do some media relations, then one thing to bear in mind here is that with remarkable content you not only attract prospects to your business, but the media too. I call this inbound media relations, where you let journalists come to you, rather than spending precious time bugging them and pitching at them.

How do you do that? By writing content that helps you position yourself as an expert and thought leader, as someone unique, different and new. This way the media will seek out your opinion and come to you – it’s inbound all the way.

So, dear startups, here’s your new methodology to learn – inbound PR. It’s going to help you develop a holistic content strategy to do your own PR, on your own website, to drive your own visitors and leads, which will not only include prospects or customers, but also the media. With that type of remarkable content,  you’ll get the word out about your brand naturally and authentically, not in a pushy way, but in an attractive manner that brings the right people to you.

With inbound PR you get the best of two worlds – PR and inbound marketing. And you can do it on your own.

How do you like this new concept of inbound PR?

Learn more about inbound PR on Iliyana’s Blog!

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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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