In the face of newer competing communications strategies like ‘inbound’ and ‘content’ it’s worth reminding ourselves why PR still trumps both, even in 2018.
Take the 2017 State of Inbound report released by inbound specialists HubSpot earlier this year as an example. This report asked over 6000 industry respondents what sources of information they relied upon when purchasing business software in 2017. Topping the list - at 54% and 45% respectively - were “Word of Mouth” and “Customer References”. Coming in just behind these – at 39% - was…media articles! That’s right: the top source of trusted information for buyers of business software outside of existing customers’ word of mouth/references is the media. And directly beside “media articles” came “vendor authored materials” (also 39%) while just behind these came “analyst reports” (at 33%).
Hang on. Aren’t these newer strategies precisely what has always been driving tech PR programmes for decades? These ‘influencers’ touted in the HubSpot report are exactly the same audiences for any tech and B2B PR of the last 20 years. Indeed, if you look at any PR programme put together for any tech company in the last 20 years – start up or otherwise – writing case studies, getting testimonials, and pitching and placing media stories will all have featured prominently. But PR offers something more, as we shall see.
For tech PRs, “content marketing” also has a very familiar look to it. A recent article in Entrepreneur.com entitled “How to Produce Content That Doubles Your Sales Funnel Conversion Rate” included the following “irresistible content”: branded blog posts, whitepapers, email newsletters, guides, case studies, how-to content that showcases your products, demo videos, product descriptions, data sheets, testimonials and reviews. Look familiar? Just as with our ‘inbound influencers’ above, these have been standard tech PR tools for decades.
So why is PR better, even in 2018? Where PR trumps both of these strategies is in the execution. While ‘Inbound’ and ‘Content Marketing’ offer tools and advice, PR - and especially focused PR like tech PR - goes the critical steps further: working with the client to identify the audience- often on an individual by individual basis - shaping the strategy accordingly, writing and producing the material, and making the approach. I have had clients rave about ‘inbound’ until the unavoidable questions were asked: ‘Inbound from where? How will it get there?’ The same goes for ‘irresistible content’. Who will produce it? And where will it appear, where will it be published?
As well as asking those questions, PR answers them, and delivers the execution of the strategy as well. That remains the difference, even in 2018.
(Pic: A Dublin Fox.)