Putting PR in Front of Your Inbound Marketing Engine

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Social Media Club speaker Scott Baradell
I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on inbound marketing and its relationship to public relations at next Thursday’s SMC Dallas event.

As I’ve pointed out here previously, I’ve noticed something about a lot of companies that are calling themselves “inbound marketing firms” these days: they are actually SEO firms or Web design firms that are attempting to reposition their businesses in the marketplace.

The problem for firms that start with SEO or Web design as their core discipline is that while these are both important tools for inbound marketers, they are not the foundation of inbound marketing. The foundation of inbound marketing is good storytelling, which starts with good writers.

And that’s why public relations firms are well positioned to be the inbound marketing firms of the future. PR has always been about storytelling; when journalists change careers, it is typically to go into PR because it’s such a natural transition. Journalists are far less likely to join SEO or Web design firms, and when they do, they often feel like fish out of water — a “content provider” bolted on to an agency that doesn’t really understand journalism or storytelling.

Unfortunately, while it makes all the sense in the world for PR to lead the inbound marketing charge, the reality is that most PR firms aren’t very good at it. Why, you ask? I’m reminded of the old presidential debate skit in which Chevy Chase, playing Gerald Ford, told his questioner: “It was my understanding that there would be no math.”

Historically, PR is allergic to analytics and the true quantification of results. I participated in a panel on media relations in Austin in June and the experts on either side of me, from very large PR agencies, led their presentations with the benefits of taking reporters out for coffee and/or sending them cookies.

It’s 2013. Coffee and cookies? Really?

So, will PR agencies win the content wars despite themselves? I don’t know. But I do know that it makes all the sense in the world to put PR in front of your inbound marketing engine. I’ll talk about how to do it at SMC Dallas on Thursday. Hope you can attend.

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