Don’t Do Media Relations. Do Inbound Relations Instead and Let Your Audience Find You
PR 3.0 is the PR of new technologies and new competencies. Today, when virtually everyone can publish content and almost instantly earn the rank of an opinion leader, the Holy Grail of your profession isn’t the traditional media relations anymore, but your very own content and promotion on your own channels. As experts say, “Today you can and should be your own media company.” Forget user databases built with great effort. With Prowly’s new Brand Journal equipped with lead forms, journalists will rush to subscribe to your mailing list.
Inbound PR, meaning what exactly?
For many, it’s the future of PR. And it has been roughly since 2014, so if you still haven’t left your trenches and stubbornly claim that the lead generation doesn’t refer to you, you’re making a huge mistake.
Let us go back to basics for a while. What exactly is PR? [here you will find various definitions and check out what practitioners say about it]. And because I value your precious time, let me just use this short, yet brilliant passage (by Jean-Louis Gassee) cited by Iliyana Stareva from HubSpot at the Inbound 2016 conference: “Advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you’re good.”
— Sharen Murnaghan (@sharenmurnaghan) November 10, 2016
At the event, Iliana also said, “PR people excel in content but suck at measurement.” Let’s skip the moment when the audience falls silent and waits in bated breath, and focus on what such a merger of PR and inbound relations could give us. And because today PR requires much more of us (including being responsible for generating leads, nurturing them, and handing them over to sales to close), I’m assuming that all those sitting in front of their laptops and bending over smartphones will agree. And they definitely don’t want to be considered dinosaurs.
„PR should reinvent itself; we are still rooted in conventional ways of thinking. If we don’t do it, we will die out like dinosaurs” — Iwona Sarachman, PR Director at Amrest.
— Orla O'Brien (@orlaobrien) November 10, 2016
— Megan Leonard, CMP (@MegansMeetings) November 10, 2016
So, how do we do inbound relations?
There are several elements of successful inbound PR. The fundamental ones include:
- outlining detailed characteristics of your recipients and customers (the so-called buyer personas),
- defining their journey,
- drawing up the content plan and schedule,
- promoting your content,
- finally, engaging into inbound media relations,
- nurturing leads, and
- measuring effects.
The key to fruitful inbound relations (point 5) is, however, to somewhat change your approach: “Use your site, use your blog, use your social media platforms to tell your stories and engage with people. Have them find you, don’t chase them. The same applies to the media. Journalists now use online and social profiles to actively do research, in fact, social and mobile now dictate the journalistic craft. They use social to build their brands and find stories on their own. They don’t need to wait to be pitched, and they don’t want to. They spam email pitches—their inbox is crazy (isn’t yours too?). So, do them a favor—have them find you,” writes Ilyana on her blog. And she’s right.
How Prowly’s lead forms can help you with that?
1. Your journalist database will include those who are interested in your content
A carefully constructed and continuously updated media contacts database is a must in your work. After all, such a directory is one of the most fundamental tools used every single day. Luckily, the times when you used to save all your most valued leads in an Excel file are long gone (I do hope so). Anyhow, I bet you rarely take any steps to expand such a user list. Prowly’s latest feature will make it very easy for you—just add a lead form to your story or press release, and have journalists leave their contact details themselves. I think it goes without saying that the value of such contact information is worth its weight in gold. That person simply wants to receive news from you. And you don’t have to spend hours searching for journalists’ email addresses online and verifying whether their field of interest is compatible with what you’ve been recently working on. How cool is that?
2. You will be able to easily share your exclusive content
Do you want to publish a press release or a piece on some study or trend and you have something special up your sleeve—e-book, whitepaper, report—that you would be happy to share in exchange for an email address? Nothing could be simpler. Decide where you want to put up the lead form, come up with a copy that will pull lots of eyeballs to your story and voilà! For extra convenience, assign all leads collected after a given campaign to a relevant segment (that you can name as you like). This will allow you to send out email blasts with special materials later on. If you want, you can attach such a form both to a news piece introducing it and to your newsroom’s menu bar—this way no one will scroll past it. You may also choose to pin it on your landing or category page—it’s entirely up to you where you’re going to put it.
3. You will be able to create lists of people interested in your events
How many times have you organized a press conference, a webinar or a different event and you had to register participants via email? How many of such registration emails ended up in your spam folder? And how many did you simply miss in the deluge of messages that are piling up in your inbox? The form available in Prowly’s Brand Journal will make this process easier for you, so you can have all the people interested in your event at hand. In case you’d change the date of the event or decide to inform the participants about the appropriate dress code, invite them to an after party or share the agenda with them—you have everyone’s contact deets stored in one place. After the event, don’t forget to reach out to them to say thank you for attending and/or perhaps send out some additional notes. The list may be exported and printed out in case you’d want to give it to the hostesses at the reception desk.
4. You will be able to offer a discount on your services
The same way, you can use the lead form to offer deals to your customers, for instance 20% off their first purchase in your store or a discount on a training session you’re planning to hold. Following the training, send an email to the participants and ask them to rate it—you’ll get invaluable feedback, and your customers will feel valued. Also, think about starting a loyalty program. Above all, however, open up for communication and don’t leave these people hanging.
Each of these forms can be customized to suit your needs—you can choose the colors you like (of the background and font) and change the copy.
To take full advantage of this new feature, remember to group and catalog your contacts—without keeping your database in order, you won’t manage to go anywhere. Order will help you keep calm in case of a sudden crisis that you’ll have to bring under control or whenever your news can’t wait for too long for being published. You can freely group your contacts: thematically, by tags, media type, media reach, or even by the level of industry specialization and your liking for a particular journalist. All is up to you. Do whatever will be convenient for you and your colleagues. And don’t forget to monitor and update your database on a continuous basis. If it contains the details of a considerable number of journalists, remember to reach out to them from time to time—after all, they are people too!
Finally, measure and review the effects of your email blasts to improve with each new attempt.
Don’t have Prowly in your PR toolkit yet? Change it today!