In the past, public relations has revolved around pushing a message out to a targeted audience to build awareness and drive sales. As traditional public relations continues to migrate to digital PR, content marketing and inbound marketing – every PR professional worth their salary is aggressively learning new skills and adapting their processes to fit the changing environment.

The ability to integrate inbound marketing tactics into the public relations mix has never been more important.

Instead of letting the massive changes to our PR industry intimidate you, it can help to break them down into digestible strategies you can apply one at a time – and remember that some things DON’T change. It’s like a shoe with a broken shoelace. Instead of tossing them into the nearest garbage can and heading to the mall for new shoes, you simply need to replace the laces and interweave them into the existing shoe.

The same applies here – your existing skills have enormous value, and you simply need to weave new skills into the existing ones. It’s a win-win for you and your clients.

What Doesn’t Change

In some ways, your day-to-day PR activities remain the same – but applied slightly differently. You’ll still…

  1. Write and place byline articles on targeted websites with established traffic
  2. Create newsworthy press releases and distribute them to appropriate media & news feeds
  3. Be a brand evangelist sharing your client’s news and maximizing visibility

Many of the same traditional tactics are in the mix, but with additional components or new tools blended in.

What is Inbound Marketing and How Does it Apply to PR?

Inbound marketing simply earns attention through two-way communication, great content and creating value.

It’s about them finding you, instead of you finding them.

You entice people’s attention to your product/service through a carefully laid trail of breadcrumbs that captures their interest, like dangling the aforementioned shoelace in front of a kitten (your prospective customer) until it pounces.

Social media, content marketing and SEO are the main components of inbound marketing. They have the same overall goal as PR – visibility and awareness – and complement each other perfectly. In fact, many argue that inbound marketing IS public relations and I completely agree. Same thing, different tool.

3 Ways to Integrate Inbound Marketing into Your PR

So, how can you update your PR with a little inbound marketing magic?

1. Add educational articles to your mix of bylines, and place them on credible, well-trafficked blogs and ezines. Instead of a byline article that is traditionally an opinion piece published in a print magazine or trade publication, an inbound marketing article is an educational or entertaining piece of content published online. Virtually the same deliverable – an article – but written to showcase expertise and published online.

If your client is a weight loss clinic, for example, the article might be “5 Ways to Avoid Hunger While Dieting,” “How to Avoid Night Snacking,” or “What You Need to Know Before Losing Weight with the HGC Diet.”

The content piece might be a blog post, a guest submission on another blog, or an article posted on a media site or ezine that is relevant to your subject – but the important thing to remember is to generate as much content possible, at the highest quality level possible.

No idea where to start? One way to identify where to publish a guest submission is through a simple Google search, such as “Top Ten Weight Loss” search, “submit post on weight loss” or “submit article weight loss.” You can also localize the search, such as “submit post on weight loss az.”

2. Optimize your press releases for search (SEO). Inbound marketing and public relations have something in common – helping your client be found. So why not make each press release not only easy to find, but tied to the most popular keyword related to that topic? SEO doesn’t have to be scary or complex; just five minutes of keyword research can make a huge difference to the visibility of your release.

Just google “keyword research tool” and head over to the free Google AdWords tool. Enter in a few words related to the topic of your press release and identify the top keyword phrase that fits your press release. Next, put that keyword in the headline of your press release and the first sentence – sprinkle it in another time or two in the body of your release as it is appropriate, then “mission accomplished.” You are good to go and far ahead of your competitors who AREN’T wrapping in the right keyword, or bothering to learn basic SEO.

If your press release is local, be sure and search for local terms, such as weight loss arizona” instead of “weight loss.” You’ll have a better chance of success because the competition for that keyword is smaller.

3. Become a content generation machine, using your PR materials as fodder. Don’t stop at press releases and bylines – use them to create infographics, eBooks, podcasts, white papers and other pieces of content. Because everyone is trying to get better results with less time, it is important to get full use out of every resource. Every time you write a press release or byline article, newsjack a story by adding a fresh take that fits your client, or create a blog post – re-purpose that content in different ways and make it easily sharable.

Just launch a press release with survey results? Take an hour to turn it into a PDF and use the Scribd app to make it a Facebook page download. (See an example here)

Write a case study? Spend the day turning it into a compelling blog post for a trade publication AND a white paper for the website, then push out links to both via social media.

Media kit gathering dust? Use it to create a Pinterest newsroom in ten minutes.

Have tons of great content sitting unnoticed on your client’s blog? Invest an hour once a week to post comments on OTHER blog posts that are similar in nature, then hyperlink the comment back to your client’s blog post.

These tactics take typical traditional PR assets and transform them into inbound marketing mojo with minimal time invested.

One last repeated statement, before I step off my soap box… Instead of creating fresh content every time, focus on how you can re-purpose and reuse what you have from your PR efforts in other ways – and how you can maximize readership using social media. It’s not hard, but it does take time and a concerted effort.

How are YOU integrating inbound marketing into public relations? Share your tactics and ideas! We are all in this together.