Subscriptions & inbound PR: how amazing content can generate leads

Subscriptions & inbound PR: how amazing content can generate leads

Try this "set it and forget it" approach to finding new clients using the passive power of inbound PR.

Inbound PR sounds like one of those Very Buzzword-y Phrases that doesn't quite seem to make sense when you first hear it. Someone says it in a meeting, and you insightfully nod along while quietly writing it down to Google later.

And to be fair, it's not the world's most intuitive phrase. But it is a fantastically useful strategy. So, what is it? What does inbound PR do for your strategic PR efforts, and why should you care to learn a new expression when you're still learning how to properly use "l33t" as an adjective?

What is inbound PR?

Inbound PR is about making content that is so good that it generates leads on your behalf. It's getting clients, journalists, and partnership opportunities to come to you instead of constantly having to seek them out yourself.

But, you might be asking, isn't all content supposed to be good?

Yes, sure, of course. Nothing is ever written just to be SEO bait.

But really, inbound PR is great because it generates leads for you, and the content you produce acts as its own sort of social proof. Your future clients will assume that if you know enough about the industry to churn out several thousand words on the subject, you obviously know enough to do great work for them.

As we know, most public relations efforts require just that: effort. It's a lot of pounding the pavement and getting out there and moving and shaking and wheeling and dealing. Rarely do amazing PR ops just land in your inbox without you trying.

But what if they did?

What if you created content so impactful that people sought you out for whatever you're trying to sell? That is inbound PR.

Inbound PR is tricky

In theory, inbound PR seems easier than outbound PR. With outbound PR, you have to run after and chase down leads, coverage, and media partnerships.

But inbound PR has its own set of issues as well. Namely, it requires a lot of upfront time investment, and once you've penned your content, there's only so much you can do to control the results. Maybe your piece goes crazy viral and everybody loves it. Maybe it just sits there, dormant for thousands of years.

Inbound PR is what some people like to call "slow PR" because, well, it can be pretty dang slow. It takes time to build good content, time to work on sharing that content, time for people to find it, and time for those people to convert. The initial cost of establishing the content can seem a bit high, but once it is built and put out there into the universe, it's a relatively passive process. Sure, it might require the occasional social or blog post, but that's (hopefully) not too much effort once the groundwork has been laid. We'll get on to this later, but first!

Examples of inbound PR

Alright, so the key here is content. What does this magical inbound PR look like in practical terms, and how can you create your own inbound PR strategy?

Thought leadership

People want to be inspired. They want to follow people who make them feel like they are learning and growing just by reading what the expert has to say. Every industry has a set of leaders who not only do the work, but also share their insights with loyal fan bases on social media and other outlets.

This thought leadership can be incredibly valuable for generating leads. Obviously if you have insightful knowledge, people will actively seek you out to work with you. Building a social media following and digital presence is not easy and doesn't happen overnight. But once you've established yourself as a thought leader in your industry, your future clients will inevitably come to you and seek out your knowledge instead of you having to endlessly pitch them.

The caveat to thought leadership is that you have to actually be an industry professional and have insightful things to say about your niche. Unfortunately, "personal branding" is the hottest thing right now, so everybody is fancying themselves a consummate industry leader. If you attempt to use this type of inbound PR, make sure you have something different and valuable to say.

Here are a few very clever folk that get this whole personal branding schtick right:

The 20+ best PR & comms thought leaders to follow in 2024https://www.prezly.com/academy/the-best-pr-thought-leaders-to-follow

Linkable assets

In this day and age where SEO is incredibly (and increasingly, harrowingly) important, providing some sort of linkable, valuable content is a phenomenal inbound PR opportunity. What is a "linkable asset"? Pretty much anything that people want to link to as an authoritative source on a topic.

For example:

  • Statistics, facts, and figures
  • Original research
  • "State of the _______" reports
  • Survey results
  • Deep dives and breakdowns of complicated information into non-technical, digestible information

Basically, anything someone else can confidently quote or cite when creating their own content is fabulously linkable content.

A similar caveat to this point as to thought leadership: you need to actually be providing something valuable. If you're representing a brand and your "original industry research" is a survey sampling only your brand's customer base, then that's unlikely to be recognized as reliable unbiased information.

Ebooks

Inbound PR is all about providing value. What provides more value than an ebook that people have to download and figure out how the hell to read because it's a PDF?

Just kidding, we love ebooks around here. (Ok, some of us like ebooks.) An ebook is an amazing opportunity to provide in-depth, authoritative insight into a topic that goes beyond the standard list SEO article. It's also a great way to build brand awareness and position yourself as an educator in whatever field you're in. If people feel like they can learn from you, they will trust you and eventually give you all their money.

Here are a few books not just for PR, but by PR.

The 15 best PR books (according to the experts)
The 15 best PR books (according to the experts)

We asked some seasoned comms professionals which books they'd recommend on the industry, and here are the results

Podcasts

Podcasting, while less passive than some of the other options we've discussed, has so many direct and peripheral benefits for your inbound PR efforts. Not only do people seek out your content because of the entertainment and education value, but you also get exposure to new audiences through the guests you feature. Yes, it requires more commitment to maintain, but so long as you keep showing up, your popularity will only grow with time.

You share your podcast with your audience. Your guest shares it with theirs. You have an awesome chance to have an engaging, industry-specific chat with someone who is equally as passionate about the topic. Win–win–win.

To learn how to make podcasts work for you, check out our PR Roundtable episode on pitching to podcasts with with the Media Maven herself, Christina Nicholson.

12 binge-worthy PR podcasts in 2024 (+ best episodes!) 🎧
12 binge-worthy PR podcasts in 2024 (+ best episodes!) 🎧

No time to read? Hate words? Listen to these PR podcasts instead to gather insights on trending topics & PR best practice

Company blog

There's a reason every brand has a company blog these days, and it's not just because people love writing. SEO content helps you rank your website highly on Google, of course, but it also helps you establish authoritativeness in the industry. SEO is a powerful form of inbound PR, especially for people who may not be super familiar with your industry or niche. What better way for people to find your brand than for them to stumble upon it when they use Google? Or… Bing.

The key here, and the thing that differentiates "inbound PR" from "just doing SEO," is quality. You want your content to be optimized for the algorithms, but you don't want it to just be algorithmic garbage. When using your newsroom for inbound PR, make sure you are prioritizing the reader over everything. If someone finds your content and it's not good, it won't generate leads. They'll just assume you're another hack with ChatGPT and a dream.

How to use SEO & social media for PR
How to use SEO & social media for PR

27x more people visit Facebook than NYTimes.com. So why are you still killing yourself trying to get that mention?

Capturing your audience

Creating great content as part of your inbound PR marketing strategy is only the first part. If you create something great, give them all your knowledge, and they walk away smarter and better – well, that doesn't really help you, does it? The missing piece is having a way to build that audience over time, and the best way to do that? Email addresses.

Which is yet another reason to use your newsroom as a base for your distribution strategy.

Many of our clients use Prezly's newsroom subscription feature to practice the art of inbound PR. Subscriptions are a phenomenal way to not only own your media, but also to stay connected with your audience and build relationships with current and potential clients, journalists, industry partners, nosy aunts, etc.

We include the ability for our users to incorporate subscription signups into all of our client's press releases and newsrooms because we know the importance of building and maintaining those relationships. The ability to capture emails and foster those relationships is an important part of effective inbound PR.

Want to check it out and see if Prezly might be a good fit for your inbound PR? Try it for free. 👇

Prezly – software for modern PR teams

  • Write & publish brand stories in an online newsroom

  • Send email campaigns, pitches & newsletters

  • Manage all your contact lists in a single CRM, with easy import & export

  • Measure performance to see who's engaging with your stories

Inbound PR strategy: Putting it all together

Each of these strategies does not need to be done in a vacuum. In fact, inbound PR often works incredibly well when done strategically using multiple initiatives. Let's see what that could look like practically.

First, you establish a social media presence (like X, LinkedIn, Threads) and begin posting regularly about your insights into the industry. You connect with other PR professionals and start building a fanbase. Somebody stumbles across your account and likes what you have to say. They check out your website, where you provide more in-depth industry insights through your blog, research studies, and an ebook or two.

Your visitor likes what they see, so they subscribe and enjoy your regular content updates through their email. When they need a product or service exactly like yours, all of your inbound marketing efforts make you top of mind and voila! Now you've got a brand new client.

Does it work exactly like this every single time? Absolutely not. If only it were that easy! But inbound PR techniques are powerful tools to help you connect in ways that aren't just endlessly spam-emailing potential clients.

One final note: Inbound PR only works if you have clear ways to make yourself available for client meetings, demos, and future partnerships. However you want to do this is fine, but your website or socials should have a very clear CTA so they can get ahold of you. It doesn't make sense to do all this work to establish inbound PR and then you're impossible to reach.

Go forth and create great content!

Now that you know what inbound PR is and how it can help you, you're ready to let your content work for you. If you'd like to see an example of an amazing inbound PR mailing list, why not subscribe to ours? 😉

Sorry, I had to.

Prezly – software for modern PR teams

  • Write & publish brand stories in an online newsroom

  • Send email campaigns, pitches & newsletters

  • Manage all your contact lists in a single CRM, with easy import & export

  • Measure performance to see who's engaging with your stories

Published February 2024

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