By Mary Cate Spires

Public relations and inbound marketing are two hot keywords in the marketing industry. But what are they? What do they mean for your organization? And how can they work together to bring the most value to your business?

For those not as familiar with these two facets of marketing, I will give you a quick rundown:

Public Relations

According to the Public Relations Society of America, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” A public relations strategy can help increase awareness for an individual or an organization, it can help build relationships with the media, and it works to create or preserve a positive image.

To be successful in public relations, you must focus on the needs of your company, the media, and your audience. You can’t focus on one without the other two in a successful PR strategy.

Something that PR and inbound marketing have in common is thought leadership. In public relations, you pitch your thought leadership in your industry to the media on a certain topic. In inbound, you create content that you publish yourself that is still educating your audience and showing your expertise. The difference here is where the content is published. In PR, the content can be written by a journalist or by the thought leader him- or herself; however, it will be published through a third-party outlet. This gives your content more credibility. In inbound, usually, you publish the content yourself, and your audience knows it is coming from you.

Inbound Marketing

So, now you are thinking, “Okay, great, my PR and inbound marketing have things in common but are not the same, but wait—tell me more about inbound marketing.” You’re in luck! We love to talk about inbound marketing on the SmartBug blog.

Here is the quick and dirty version: Inbound marketing focuses on being found by customers by providing valuable content.

So, now that we have wrapped our heads around what inbound marketing and public relations should look like, let’s take a look at how they can work together.

 

1. Content, Content, Content

When it comes to public relations, it is all about the pitch and the relationships to take it the distance. What is the angle? What publication will find this most valuable? How can it be tied to current events? Once a PR professional has the topic, he or she pitches until that topic is picked up—or until it is determined that it’s time to move on. After all, not every topic will get a bite. In inbound marketing, you take your topic, figure out what your audience needs to know about that topic, and get to writing. So, the question is: Why come up with similar topics for two different purposes when you could just repurpose one topic? That is exactly what you should do!

Similar to inbound marketing, public relations cannot survive without continuous ways to prove expertise and thought leadership.  

Use your inbound marketing topics and ideas to help create your public relations pitches and vice versa. There is no need to always reinvent the wheel. Also, with this strategy, you can ensure that your messaging and strategy align across all aspects of your marketing.

2. Let’s Get Social

Utilize social media to not only engage with your audience but to spread your message and content further.

When using social media for public relations and inbound marketing, be sure to use hashtags that your audience is using and make sure you are posting to social media sites that are being primarily used by your personas.

Integrate your news and thought leadership into your existing social media promotions and use your social media platforms as a way to get your brand in front of even more relevant people.

 

3. Don’t Kill the Press Release Just Yet

Fun fact: Press releases aren’t dead. People will try to tell you they are, and let’s be honest: Just putting a press release out over the wire and crossing your fingers no longer works. This doesn’t mean, though, that you should toss them altogether.

When creating a press release to talk about your newest content or product launch, write it to be picked up by a news outlet but also optimize the copy for search engines.

More than likely, your audience isn’t finding you by reading thousands of Yahoo! News articles, BUT it is going to Google. Give your audience another chance to find you by offering up your press release as part of its journey.

Once your release is distributed and popping up in search engines, you can also use that content in other areas. Create a slideshare, a blog post, or a video with the same information talking about why the news is important to your audience.

As you gain more visibility from public relations, you will get more inbound clicks to your site, and you will ultimately get more leads.

 

4. Optimize for Search

As we touched on above, never forget about the search engine. Again, you can use the same news or content multiple times—the key is optimizing that content for the right keywords each time.

If you put a press release in your news room on your website, write a blog article about why that news is important for your industry, or you can even create a site page specifically about the news—always optimize this content for search.

By optimizing for search, you are helping ensure people get the information they are looking for, which all goes back to successful public relations.

 

5. Don’t Knock Media Relations

Yes, marketing is changing, and with that, PR is changing. While a good public relations consultant knows to not lay all of his or her eggs in the media basket, he or she also knows it is still a large part of a public relations strategy.

So, the key is making sure you make the most out of your media articles. Integrate them into your inbound marketing campaigns. What is the article talking about? Take what the article is showing and use that as a way for people to make it back to your website and become leads. Did the article talk about your innovative new product? Share case studies from your website on social media and talk about how your product made your customers’ lives better.

"So delighted to be featured on @ABC [link]! Get more of the inside scoop on how we developed our latest product to help serve @customer [link case study]."

This is a great way to build on the authority of the media outlet that mentioned you, get traffic to its article, and get traffic to your website.

Inbound marketing and public relations don’t have to live in separate worlds. They can work together to make each other better and ultimately drive more leads to your business.

How else have you integrated PR with your inbound marketing campaigns?

inbound-campaign

Learn about inbound marketing campaigns with:

10 Steps to Build an Inbound Marketing Campaign That Works

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Mary Cate Spires

About the author

Mary Cate Spires is an Strategist at SmartBug Media. With over five years of experience running inbound programs in the technology, healthcare, fitness, senior living, and nonprofit industries, Mary Cate loves to help customers grow and achieve their business goals. She is on the Board of Directors for the Columbia Chapter of the American Marketing Association. “MC” graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Public Relations and a minor in Sports and Entertainment Marketing. Her best friend is her 5lb Morkie, Harley, with whom she loves to binge watch any tv show. Read more articles by Mary Cate Spires.