Inbound PR vs. Traditional PR and Why Traditional PR Sucks

Ok, maybe it doesn't suck. But definitely ageing.


“Inbound?” you’re thinking.  "I’m in Comms. We’re meant to push – not pull."

You beg for coverage – sending out loads of unopened emails, banging on the phones, going through your little black book calling all of the journalists that “owe you”.

Since you’re in PR, you may not be aware of the modern trend of sales moving to an inbound approach. Meaning: they come to you – not you to them.

Sounds like a fantasy.

While great, it’s not as easy as it sounds. You need to have a reason for them to come to you. Either a) by being a thought leader in the space you’re in (typically manifested via blog) or b) by creating content for which your audience is willing to exchange contact information (think video, infographic, document, etc.). And, typically, you need a particular software that enables you to track this activity (ISEBOX uses HubSpot, others being Marketo and InfusionSoft which you may recognize).

Here’s the thing: People don’t like to be sold to. And Journalists are people, too.Psychologically, humans prefer to make a choice (or feel like they are making a choice).

The Inbound Approach can work for public relations as well as sales – it’s content centric though. Not story centric.

Some examples:

  • A company merging with another - boring. An infographic or infovideo highlighting the benefits of the merger: awesome for today's visual world. See this infographic re: the power of visual content
  • A new CEO - if I'm not an employee or stockholder, don't care. A video of the new CEO Undercover Boss style, meeting employees, seeing the old coffee machine needs an upgrade, and shaking hands - fun.
  • A new fruit juice flavor might not be enough on its own to make the news agenda.  Memes of cartoon fruits in the image of celebrities making jokes about “boring” juice flavors – shareworthy. Almost to the point where the story is "ACME Co. releases memes of cartoon fruits looking like Kim K. and Kanye" instead of "New Mango Papaya Flavor".

It's the content that drives.

What if the journalists came to you – and they would voluntarily would provide you with information such as the outlet they work for, their email address, name, job title, and more? They will happily do this if you have both content they want and a software platform to track this activity.

Here is what happens today:

  • You have a great concept and angle for the story.
  • You have great ideas around the content to support the story (I hope).
  • You make the content
  • Find one or two places to post the content (YouTube? Good luck competing with cat videos).
  • You pump a press release out to 200 “press release farms” of which their sole purpose is to post press releases so your numbers look good, but no one actually reads them.
  • The press release may have a link or two such as “For the video visit” and your contact information.
  • This generated little interest, so to “support” this seeding on press release farms you call, email, stalk, etc. many media and journalist possibilities. Losing sleep. Losing hours.
  • You take creative liberties in creating your final results reports – mostly numbers, few screenshots.

Here is what inbound PR looks like:

  • You have a great concept and angle for the story.
  • You have great ideas around the content to support the story.
  • You make the content.
  • You upload all content to one location that tracks activity (ta-da!) along with the press release… this looks something like this for Michelin or this for Qatar Airways.
  • You tweet, post, share, the link of this page (see the importance of links here)
  • You send a targeted, friendly email, to those you know are interested in your topics
  • You push the press release out to key wires only - if you like.
  • You monitor your dashboard as you start seeing the link gain traffic and start seeing media and journalists offering up their information in exchange for your awesome content.

What does this mean? It means you now have a list of journalists to contact that KNOW who you are, and not only are they FAMILIAR with the story – they’re interested! The software you choose to execute an Inbound PR Approach should tell you what they downloaded or embedded and when.

That way, the phone call or email you make to them would go something like this:

Hi John, I saw you downloaded our video of the new CEO shaking hands with his new employees! Since you only downloaded a couple hours ago, this is still a fresh story. Could I offer you an interview with the CEO?

Imagine how refreshing this would be for the journalist – your customer. And for you.

PS: Don’t get me started on Newsrooms and Media Centers. They’ve got a whole different set of issues.




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