Neither on one side nor the other.
And that’s a challenge for the industry trying to find its way in the new digital landscape.
Some consider PR an inbound practice because it’s all about content creation, from traditional news releases to the more up to date newsrooms, videos and/or various social objects.
Others consider it outbound because if you’ve got a story and want to get noticed, you have to shout about it like crazy. Of course, that’s a leftover from the days when PR folks became broadcasters (spammers?) via the treacherous route from fax to bcc. And while it’s better now, we’re still producing too much junk.
Personally, I’d prefer if PR crossed over to the inbound side of the fence and became more journalist-creative and less huckster.
Here’s how to get there:
Step 1 – People
In a world of info overload, the so-called buzz of pure publicity can quickly become a grating buzzsaw. So instead of focusing on the usual subjects (i.e. mainstream media), PR needs to think about people first. Beginning with your community and expanding outward, we have to identify and delight both your customers and the folks they trust.
Step 2 – Story
The news release has its place, in the same way a formal setting has its place on a dining room table. But what if you’re having a picnic or a quick buffet lunch? Certainly you’d want to change things up. It’s time to move beyond formalized corp-comm and replace that with an interactive newsroom that acts and reacts in real time and features news, personalities, videos, graphics – creative, surprising and meaningful stories that people discover and share. Instead of constantly pitching, let’s program and curate. Then people will find us.
Step 3 – Relationships
In the traditional world of billable time, too many relationships begin at the 11th hour and are based on a you-do-something-for-me request with little or no social capital built up to exchange. Relationships are reciprocal. Sure, they can be started quickly, but longer-term, they can’t rely on a push-push-push mentality. We need to create a real two-way street and that requires a shift in mindset and business structure (i.e. value does not equal time spent).
Based on this approach, we could change the name of the profession to PSR – that is people, stories, relationships.
And then practice what we preach.
Where do you think the future of PR is – inbound or outbound?