This book, written by Iilyana Stareva – Global Partner Program Manager at HubSpot, is an insight into the concept of ‘Inbound PR’. Based largely on HubSpot’s ‘Inbound Marketing’ strategy, Stareva depicts the process she believes the PR industry must go through in order to keep up with the digital world and minimise the risk of becoming obsolete.
The book starts with a history of the PR world and describes how the industry was too slow to pick up on social media, a tool that, potentially, should have been theirs from day dot. Loosing this tool to the marketing world means the PR industry and the marketing industry are now closely linked.
Acting as a step by step guide and theoretical reference for anybody in the industry looking to the future PR, the book goes through the different elements of inbound PR that should be implemented by the agency, taking the agency professional through the process of positioning themselves in the industry and using various tools to generate more leads and convert more clients.
A timely notion
It is virtually impossible to ignore how much the world has changed. As Stareva states ‘the way we make decisions have fundamentally changed’. We no longer wait to be sold too but find the information ourselves. Not too long ago, the only options available were those that were pushed onto the consumer through direct advertising. Today, this is by no means the case. If somebody wants something, they go looking for it. Few people make purchases without looking up the reviews and doing their own research, so it is important for the required information to be there when the customer comes looking. This is essentially the concept behind Inbound marketing and thus Inbound PR.
Plus, influencers, social media, and platforms like YouTube are now part of the media. Media no longer solely exists in the traditional form that we once knew. Stareva highlights the PESO media framework which includes ‘paid, earned, shared and owned’ media, all inclusive of social media, website content and Google Ads. As Stareva states, the centre of media is content, and content is what PR does best…
For marketing professionals
The best element of this book is that it breaks down the theory behind ‘Inbound PR’ in a way that makes it digestible for anybody in the marketing and/or PR industry. As a marketing professional myself, I found the whole thing straight forward to understand and make sense of. PR is part of our agency’s services so I found the connection to inbound marketing helpful and important. Stareva makes good, solid points about how closely related marketing and PR both are these days. It seems that it is virtually impossible to separate the tools that both marketers and PR professionals should use to do their job.
With the likes of SEO and social media acting as PR for many huge brands, and being managed by marketing professionals such as myself, where does that leave the PR professionals? Stareva makes a good point for combining the skills of both the marketer and the PR professional stating that marketers know how to measure things and base everything on data whilst PR professionals are natural storytellers and write better content than anybody else, ‘marketers, advertisers, web or digital experts’ alike. Despite being slightly offended by this, as I spend most of my day as a marketer writing content (I’m not really offended by the way), it makes sense. Marketers have to measure the success of their campaigns with numbers and data, or the traffic to their website, because these are the things that justify their efforts. If you have an SEO client and you have no data to backup your efforts to increase their organic traffic, how do they know that you’ve done a good (or any) job? It also makes sense that PR professional write absolutely cracking content. It’s what they do. They tell stories!
The argument stands then, that inbound PR must be adopted by the PR industry but the marketer, too, can learn a lot from this methodology and concept, and this is why I believe that this book can help any marketing or PR professional to improve their understanding of how we use the media to attract our customers and keep them there.
A manual for agency professionals
I want to also point out the fantastic appendix: the ABCs of Inbound PR. It gives the reader bite-sized chunks of information that they should remember when practising Inbound PR in their agency. I feel that touches like these throughout the book make it ‘a manual’ as is referred to on the front cover. Without these elements it would be a theoretical framework of abstract notions.
The whole book is set out clearly, with each chapter having a clear and concise focus. I wouldn’t say that you could pick it up at any point on the first read, it has quite a linear structure, but to come back to different sections is perfectly plausible and I would recommend that. Since having read the book I have dipped in and out to difference sections when I’ve needed to remind myself of certain tips and hints.
Something to note is that the book is heavily focused on advice for agencies, although not just PR agencies but it can also help marketing agencies too. This is not misleading, it is clearly stated on the front cover, but much of it focuses on the agency itself and is perhaps a much less useful resource for a professional who works in-house.
A new concept?
It is somewhat hard to think about the concept of Inbound PR as a completely new concept. It essentially highlights the importance of good quality content that draws and attracts people to your business, rather than you going to them. Professionals are aware of the importance of content and social media, but Stareva makes a good case for it within the PR industry specifically, and conceptualising it within the modern day agency. In this book the concept is transformed into a solid practice and set of rules to follow in order to improve the PR agency.
There is solid advice given about how agencies must differentiate themselves or risk being lost in the crowd. Whilst this is not ‘new’ advice, Stareva contextualises it and describes it in such a way that appeals to the agency professional and inspires them to take action. Therefore, I would thoroughly recommend this book to any agency professional, both marketers and PR professionals alike.