PR and Inbound Marketing Go Together Like Peas and Carrots

Tim Holdsworth
Posted by Tim Holdsworth on August 4, 2014

peas-and-carrotsJust like Forrest Gump and Jenny, Public Relations (PR) and Inbound Marketing (IM) "go together like peas and carrots." At their core, both are about increasing visibility, driving awareness and winning converts. In addition, both rely on content creation, search, and social media to attract their respective audiences (media and customer), which are more interdependent than you may think.

Customers Use Search and Social Media to Make Purchase Decisions

Research from Forrester indicates B2B buyers locate three content pieces about a vendor for every one piece of content that marketing can publish or a sales person can deliver. These customers are locating this content through a wide array of channels (search, social media, videos) on a range of devices. Using an average number of 7.6 different sources throughout the purchasing funnel, these buyers can be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% through their purchasing journey before they reach out to a salesperson.

Media Use Search and Social Media to Make Story Decisions

A national survey conducted by Cision and Don Bates of The George Washington University’s master's degree program in strategic public relations showed B2B journalists and reporters mainly use search and social media to track down ideas for stories. Among the survey’s respondents:

  •    89% said they turn to blogs for story research

  •    65% use social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn

  •    52% turn to Twitter and similar services

Customers Believe the Media More Than You

In terms of the content they view, 85% of customers regularly or occasionally seek out trusted-expert content (i.e., articles from credible journalists) and rely on this content to make purchase decisions five times more today than they did five years ago, according to a recent Nielsen study. In addition, the study showed that expert content:

  • Lifted customer brand familiarity 88% more than branded (company generated) content and 50% more than user reviews

  • Boosted brand affinity 50% more than branded content, and 20% more than user reviews

  • Increased purchase intent 38% more than branded content

Position Yourself for Success

So, given the interdependent nature of IM and PR, how can you maximize your efforts?

1. Start blogging, regularly.

It’s the digital age … start thinking of your website as your very own media outlet and get to publishing. However, don’t do so without having a content plan that aligns your customers’ needs with your organization’s capabilities. To pull together that plan, regularly gather a group of story champions together to share customer stories, organization events, product updates, known problems that your service/product can resolve or topics on which your people have some key expertise – you’ll be surprised just how many ideas such a group can generate. From there you can develop your plan. Be sure to include news releases on your blog too. Remember, journalists use blogs to search for relevant topics to write about, plus the more blogs you publish, the more traffic, leads, and sales your business can generate.

2. Start building those media relationships.

First, pull together and segment lists of the media outlets (i.e., trade press, local press, etc.) and journalists relevant to your organization and the market segments it serves. Be sure to collect their contact information (email, Twitter handle, etc.) and note the type of stories they typically cover. From there, start following those outlets and/or journalists on Twitter (almost three-quarters of journalists use Twitter as part of their daily work) and start building relationships with them. Share their content when it’s related to your business, provide positive comments on things they’ve written, ask appropriate questions and start understanding their needs so you can provide them help (story ideas, industry expertise) when they need it. Also, be sure to seek out online PR opportunities, including release syndicators, such as PRWeb. Even a simple PR plan can do wonders for SEO and your total inbound marketing results.

3. Seek out opportunities to contribute your expertise.

Keep track of trends and key issues in your industry and create blog content that addresses them. Once complete, send a link to that content to the media contacts with whom you’ve built relationships. Such a proactive response may help you gain media coverage. Also, seek out opportunities to guest blog, submit articles, or provide a regular column to a publication. Many outlets, particularly B2B trade publications, are short-staffed and are looking for content to pick up or repurpose; it may as well point back to your organization.

4. Share your content.

Content without sharing is, well, nothing. Regularly share your stories – via organizational social media accounts and via the key members of your organization. Remember, the more you share, the more people will see your content and the links pointing back to your site. Selectively choosing which social channels you participate in can help foster the right audience for your company's objectives. Remember to share not just your branded content, but any of the expert-generated coverage you receive; doing so helps to increase your credibility with customers.

Since the old “say and spray” marketing and PR models no longer work in today’s high-speed, information-everywhere world, PR and IM have become virtually inseparable. Whether you’re targeting potential customers or media professionals, the goal is to make information about your company, product, and/or expertise easy to find and accessible.

Use social media to attract visitors to your website

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing

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