For any brand or business looking to grow reach and build a connection with new audiences, public relations needs to be a vital component of the marketing mix. It not only helps you reach people who are likely to be interested, but also in connecting with newer audiences.
PR can define your brand’s voice and get other people talking about what you have to offer. But despite all the advantages, PR has often found itself under scrutiny when it comes to measuring return on investment. Over the years, PR has evolved as a medium to embrace the digital.
Inbound PR, or, as many people are calling it, the future of PR, eliminates the only major drawback of public relations — measurement. Combining PR’s biggest strength (content) with its biggest challenge (measurement), inbound PR has made it possible to measure and prove the ROI of your public relations strategy. This puts it right where it needs to be, in the digitally-driven world. Digital media, the primary source for information consumption these days, is evolving faster than most brands can handle.
Customers are empowered by online information and they like to learn by themselves, instead of being told what to do; they have their preferred channels and sources that they trust. This is where traditional channels of PR fail to make an impact. With inbound PR, everything is initiated by the customer. It attracts, unlike traditional PR, which interrupts.
Put simply, think about your own process of buying. You prefer to do your own research, comparing prices online and finding out what certain individuals on social media have to say about a product. Nobody trusts salespeople or forced ads anymore. In the same fashion, marketers are switching to an inbound approach where they get attention with relevant content, fostering more meaningful connections that last.
When you’re ready to take your first steps towards this future, where do you begin? Here are five steps to help you get on the path to inbound PR success:
To make the most of inbound PR, you must have a crystal-clear view of what you do best, and you need to be certain of the niche you are offering. This could mean undergoing a complete transformation of your business model by, for example, going fully digital and skipping the outbound strategy completely. An audit will allow you to get a 100% focused positioning for your business. It will also help your clients know exactly what you do and stand for, paving a clear path for you and your employees to follow going forward.
Use the services you offer to your client for your own business. Whether it’s content creation, PR, social media, webinars, or blogs, you must learn the techniques inside out. This not only proves that inbound PR works, it also adds credibility and trust among your clients. Practicing what you preach comes with the added benefit of positioning yourself as a thought leader in the market.
When your business is transforming into an inbound PR one, you need to have a team that is aligned with your vision and understands the core values of the business. This could require the training of existing employees and the hiring new talent. Defining your values will shape your hiring standards and will give you a better understanding of who is a best fit for your team. Timing is also crucial; when the clients come in, your team must be armed and ready.
The ability to say ‘no’ to the wrong strategies goes a long way when adopting inbound PR principles. Do not go with plans for short-term gains. Apply your full expertise when building campaigns and don’t be afraid to scrap developed ideas. It is vital to adapt this approach early on, in order to get a successful start on your journey to inbound PR.
Last but not least, position yourself as an expert and share whatever knowledge you amass about inbound PR with your team and clients. Don’t be threatened by the competition; let their presence serve as motivation.
Reem Masswadeh is Client Services Director at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations, an independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. | www.cbpr.me