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August 27, 2013 by Kathy F. Catoe

What is the formula for “Putting PR in Front of Your Inbound Marketing Engine”?  Scott Baradell, president of Idea Grove, cooked up a potent parallel between Walter White’s transformation in Breaking Bad and PR’s changing role as an integral ingredient in the inbound marketing mix at our August Social Media Club of Dallas meeting.

For those who aren’t addicted to the AMC show Breaking Bad, Baradell gave us a quick synopsis of the main character, Walter White.  White, Social Media Club of Dallas a struggling high school chemistry teacher, was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.  He turned to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine to secure his family’s financial future before he dies.  What is the parallel to PR and Inbound Marketing?  Walter White is a brilliant chemist who takes a core skill and applies it in a new direction.  Public Relations takes story ideas and applies them in a new direction.  “Story ideas”, says Baradell, “drive the inbound marketing engine.  Inbound Marketing is not just about process, technique, or technology, but about really good story ideas!”

As an example of a great story idea, Baradell pointed to the Father of Public Relations, Edward Bernays, and his innovative campaign for Lucky Strike cigarettes in 1929. At the time, it was taboo for women to smoke in public.  After consulting a psychoanalyst to determine women’s perception of and motivation for smoking, he determined that the women of the time emotionally tied smoking to strides toward the equality of the sexes.  Cigarettes were “torches of freedom” and Bernays promoted freedom marches to support women smoking in public. As Bernays wrote in his book Crystallizing Public Opinion, “PR must “create news…in order to appeal to the instincts and fundamental emotions of the public.”

So how do we wrap current PR practices into our inbound marketing mix? Baradell shared that “What’s Old is New”. Putting PR in Front of Your Inbound Marketing Engine

*Topical Stories become relevant as Newsjacking, a term pinned by David Meerman Scott referencing the real-time injection of your ideas or angles into breaking news in order to generate media coverage. This takes into account the stellar speed of online information, search and social sharing.
*Media Outreach is not just about connecting with traditional journalists and promoting your message.  It is now about finding online influencers based on keywords and topics that they use, creating meaningful links and site connections, and then developing real relationships that will benefit everyone.
*Thought Leadership is now about claiming Authorship.  Who are your internal thought leaders? Is their content being quoted and linked to their online bios and Google+ profiles to improve the brand’s searchability?

Baradell’s premise is that PR should be at the top of the funnel.  Your promotions offsite will get people to your website and drive social search and keywords that create awareness.  Engagement comes from “digital sharecropping”, driving people to your site through blogs, ebooks, downloads, etc.  The bottom of the funnel is for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), AB testing of landing pages, and email.

He shared successful client Case Studies to illustrate this approach.  One case involved Spousal Outplacement and how an initial article and press release lead to a vast array of content and the development of a new product offering for their client company.  “Just like the Alaskan Inuit, who use every part of the whale, all of your content should be utilized across multiple platforms with a consistent pitch,” Baradell said. In his second case study, he showed that by securing a subject matter expert to manage and create content for a client’s site, the value of the site and the web traffic increased so that the website is now the de facto resource for media on the subject.  He said that you could see this as lethal generosity.  By generously providing great content, you kill the competition.

The Q & A section got the audience’s attention when Baradell stated that link building had been killed by Google.  He clarified that the emphasis needs to be on building relationships and not just building links.  He expressed that it is beneficial for clients to work with one agency that understands your needs.  This supports a consistent message and the successful integration of your content across all platforms and venues.

We want to thank Scott Baradell again for providing us with this actionable information on the role PR can play in creating successful Inbound Marketing strategies and campaigns. Don’t miss next month’s Social Media Showcase on September 19th to gain more valuable insights from effective campaigns that can benefit you and your clients.

Thanks also to sponsor Tin Star Taco Bar and their notoriously addictive tacos.  If you haven’t completed the #ItCanWait pledge with our Quarterly sponsor Verizon, please do so now for a chance to win tickets to a Rangers suite.

 Kathy F. Catoe

Kathy F. Catoe is the Vice President of KTO Group, LLC, a marketing consultancy specializing in brand and social media strategy. KTO Group also offers its customers Optionz, a consumer incentive reward program.