How (and when) should you use public relations in tandem with your inbound marketing strategy?
This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Ruby Media Group Founder Kristen Ruby breaks down the myths surrounding PR and inbound marketing. In this conversation, she gets into detail about who should consider using PR, when to use it, how much you should expect to pay, and what kinds of results you should expect.
In addition, Kristen covers the difference between PR for brand building and PR for SEO, as well as the difference between reactive and proactive PR.
There's lots of practical information here for any marketers who has ever considered using PR as part of their strategy.
Highlights from my conversation with Kristen include:
A PR specialist is different than a media relations specialist. Kris specializes in strategic Public Relations and Media Relations. PR can encompass anything in a communications plan and marketing plan whereas media relations is specifically about interaction with the media.
PR is a good strategy for any business that is looking to build a long-term, sustainable funnel of leads, as well as to build their brand.
One of the big benefits of PR is that it can contribute to building your domain authority, which is great for SEO.
In terms of setting expectations for a PR engagement, Kristin says that the results you can get are very dependent upon the news cycle and what journalists are interested in covering.
Kristin says you should expect to commit to working with your PR firm at least one hour each day.
There's a difference between reactive and proactive PR. Kristin specializes in reactive PR, which entails responding to reporters' requests for sources, as opposed to proactive PR, which she states is going out to the media and spamming them with unsolicited pitches.
When it comes to PR, it's important to build up online (and offline) authority so that the media sees you as a credible source.
For clients looking to get started with PR, Kristin recommends that they begin by publishing content that is aligned with what they are hoping to get coverage about. This can be published on their website, LinkedIn profile, etc.
According to Ruby, the cost of a PR engagement can vary widely depending upon the scope of services and the type of media coverage that you're looking for and then the size of the PR firm you want to work with. A range that PR services may start at could be anywhere from $4,000 or $6,000 a month, but some of the larger firms could be charging $35,000 or $40,000 a month.
If you plan to be on TV as part of your PR plan, Kris says it could be worth investing in media training as part of your PR package, as it will prepare you to be on camera.
I'm your host Kathleen Booth. Today, my guest is Kristen Ruby who is the founder and CEO of Ruby Media Group. Welcome Kristen.
Kristen Ruby (Guest): Hi, thank you so much for having me.
Kristen and Kathleen recording this episode.
Kathleen: I'm so happy to have you here. You are in the field of PR and we don't get to talk about PR a lot on the podcast so I'm really excited to dig into it with you, but before we do can you just tell my listeners a little bit more about yourself, and about your company, and what you do?
About Kristen and Ruby Media Group
Kristen: Sure. My company is Ruby Media Group. I have been a practicing public relations practitioner for over a decade now. I work with clients and businesses of all sizes from small to midsize companies to even Fortune 500 companies, and particularly with a lot of medical practices and doctors as well.
We assist with brand building, content creation, social media, public relations, and really help people get found online. What we're really best at is taking peoples' thought leadership offline and translating that online.
Kathleen: Great. It's interesting. When you and I first spoke what I really liked was... My question to you was obviously this podcast is all about inbound marketing, and people have mixed opinions about where PR, public relations, fits within that mix as an inbound marketer. I think there's also a lot of misconceptions about what public relations is, especially today, like as it's evolved over time.
You had some really interesting viewpoints on that, and I wanted to just actually start by having you explain what you see as what PR is, and the different uses of it, because there's obviously PR for SEO, and then there's other types of PR.
Kristen: I mean, so it's a really interesting question. To start with I think there's a difference between PR and media relations, so I want to also explain that to your listeners. PR can encompass anything in the communications plan and marketing plan whereas media relations is specifically about interaction with the media.
To clarify, I do a lot of media relations work whereas some public relations practitioners will sort of do community outreach, and sponsorship, and a larger umbrella of what PR is.
In terms of public relations, a publicist will help you in terms of all your interactions with the media, getting you out there, handling media inquiries, anything of that nature.
When should you invest in PR?
Kathleen: Okay, great. What do you see as the value of PR for the companies that invest in it? Who is it right for? When should you do it? That sort of thing.
Kristen: That's a great question. With PR, it really depends what stage you're at in your business. For example, let's say you're a medical practice, and a doctor, and you've been around for 10 years, you already have a waiting list of patients, but at this point you have other goals.
Maybe you want to become a paid speaker. Maybe you want to write a book, and you want a publisher, and you need a social media following for that, or maybe you're at a different level in your career where now you just want to focus on putting out educational content to reach the masses because your time is limited, and you can only see a certain number of patients a day.
For that type of practitioner, I think PR is ideal, because it fits in the brand building bucket.
If you're someone that is saying, "I need more patients in the door tomorrow, and I've just launched a practice," I would still say more traditional inbound marketing would make sense for that, including some direct marketing and advertising as well. I really think you have to evaluate, "Are you looking for sales and leads tomorrow out of this or can you have a longer sort of sales funnel in terms of what you're doing with all of this?"
Kathleen: Yeah, that's a good point. I often hear about PR a lot from startups, especially B2B technology startups. There seems to be this assumption that in the beginning PR is something that you should invest in almost before marketing. I think part of it is this desire as a startup to plant your flag in the ground, in the marketplace, and get your name out there.
But then, the other part of it is also, from my perspective as a marketer, it's building domain authority. That goes back to the PR for SEO thing, so I wonder if you could just talk a little bit about that.
PR for brand building v. PR for SEO
Kristen: Sure. I have a great case study in terms of PR for SEOs. We worked with a client, and we started everything from scratch for them with a new website, and we had not done any direct marketing, and we've only done PR for them.
Their Domain Authority ranking right now is a 32, and that's only from public relations. So, all of that authority and they have not done any paid advertising. It's all back links from PR articles that I've gotten them.
Now, again, that was never even a primary goal of why we did PR for this brand, but I think one of the amazing things about that campaign is that it just sort of compliments, and comes out, when you're not even trying for it, right?
With public relations practitioners there's often this disconnect with SEO, and with PR, because they're so focused on getting the hits, and working with producers and journalists that they don't actually realize they really are building someone's back link profile, and Domain Authority while they're doing PR.
Now, of course you can never guarantee any placements, and we could talk about that as well, but if you get them it can be great, especially if you are securing it for a client in that third-party national media outlet, and that outlet has very high Domain Authority, well then, you're benefiting from that.
Kathleen: Yeah. It is tremendous potential if you have a well known media entity. Those back links can be worth a lot.
What should you expect from a PR engagement?
Kathleen: I want to talk about expectation setting because that can seem very alluring, and I'm sure you have clients who come to you and say, "Get me mentioned in The Wall Street Journal, or on TV, et cetera," so can you talk me through when you first start working with a new client how do you, A, determine what's possible, and B, how do you set expectations around that?
Kristen: Sure. The first thing that we ask a prospect that's interested in working with us for public relations is what does PR success look like to you? So how are you going to evaluate the engagement here, and what do those metrics and KPIs look like?
For example, if they're saying, "We want to be on The Today Show, within a month." Obviously that's going to be an unrealistic expectation. If they're saying, "We're looking for around three or four press placements, and digital mentions a month." That's a realistic expectation with my firm. I'm not sure if it is with every firm, but for us I know that I can deliver that.
If they're saying, "I want you to guarantee a set amount of bookings whether that's on radio, or television, or any outlet." That's something that's not realistic, because no PR firm that's worth their salt is going to be able to give those guarantees, and the reason for that is because we are working with the media. The media dictates what they want to use and what they don't want to use.
I think the problem is that people hire publicists and think that the publicist has much more power than they do. I don't know if that's because PR's misrepresent what they can do to try and close a deal, or what it is, but it's just not realistic, right? We are working with the media at any given time.
For example, if you look at any week on the news cycle there's a lot of political news happening, whether it's Trump, and whether he should be impeached or not. What if you had a client that's booked on TV this week? All that's going to be canceled, because of the news cycle.
Kathleen: And if it wasn't canceled no one would probably pay attention anyway because everyone's attention is diverted somewhere else I would think.
Kristen: Exactly. But this is why it's so important if you're doing PR right now, especially in this news cycle, people need to understand that the news cycle, and breaking news, dictates what's being covered. It's not your client that dictates it. So if you can come up with some great tie-in to the news, or if your client's a political expert and they can comment on what's happening, then that adds value to whatever story's happening.
That lends itself back to your original question, which is how do you determine if someone's going to be a good client? In this heavily political climate that we're in right now a lot of PR people will definitely gravitate towards clients, or prospective clients, that can comment on those things, because they know that they can get them booked, and get hits for them. So, you have to think about that as well. We go through an internal checklist about who's going to be a good fit. It has to do with expectations. Are they realistic?
The next is, do you have at least one hour daily to work with your PR firm if you hire them? People make the mistake of hiring a firm and then they don't give them what they need to do their job. You have to supply content to your firm so that they can get you out there.
You have to let them know if something's going on that you can comment on, tell them. If there's a link that you think is interesting share it with them. But this notion that you're going to hire a PR firm, and then you're not going to talk to them, and they can get you hits is just very unrealistic.
What makes for a newsworthy story?
Kathleen: Yeah. Now, someone comes to you, and their expectations are realistic in the sense that thy say "Hey, I would love to get four press mentions this month."
I'm assuming that as you say there's some kind of content that's needed, like you can't just call up a reporter and say, "Hey cover this company," full stop, period. There needs to be some kind of a story. So how do you work with clients to determine what that right story is, and kind of cultivate something that's newsworthy?
Kristen: Sure. There are two different types of PR. There's proactive PR and there's reactive PR. I'm a specialist in what I call reactive PR. So reactive PR is when you're using different databases, whether it's a HARO or Profnet or Cision.
There's a lot of new ones coming out right now where those journalists are saying, "We're writing this story, do you have an expert to speak on X?" That's when I plug my clients in to be able to comment on those stories.
Proactive PR is a more traditional old school approach where you're sort of just going out to journalists and I would call it spamming them, which is saying, "I have this great idea, why don't you cover it?"
But the problem is they may or may not be writing about that topic. So, I think the success rates are significantly higher when you practice reactive PR, which is what I call it. Because you're giving the media what they want, when they're already working on and it makes their life easier.
Kathleen: Okay, so you really, in that case then, don't have to necessarily have a breaking news item or a piece of content. It's really just authority and expertise that you're pitching?
Kristen: It's authority and expertise, but it's also answering a lot of questions, and usually those questions tie into something. If someone is working on a vaping story. You could have authority and expertise, but you also need to have expertise in that news area that's happening with vaping in the country right now. It's a combination of all of those factors together. But to answer your other question about, how do you sort of package that? I have a motto.
My motto is, "Package, pitch, promote." Phase one when working with someone is how can we package this story. Who are they? What does their brand look like? The first thing I'll do is do a deep dive on Google. I want to look at their website. Do they have a usable working site? If not, that needs to go up before we even work with them because journalists are going to look for that.
Next, what has been written about them online? Do they have a critical mass of authority online? If they don't, again, that needs to be created. Third, who are they? What do they want to be known for?
What is their area of expertise? If there is going to be a lower third for their title tag on television, what would it say? Expert in what? So, we need to figure all that out. Finally, do they have a high res headshot for the media and do they have an executive bio?
All of that has to be done in the first two months of us working with someone. Even though it sounds sort of simple, most people don't have all of that ready to go. So, we definitely get that lined up for someone before we start with them, and then next we start putting together an FAQ document in Microsoft Word.
I actually just put together a helpful media 101 pitching checklist that I can definitely share.
Kathleen: That would be great.
Kristen: With your listeners.
Kristen: That would be great. As well as a media guide too, with a lot of answered questions that for them that are helpful.
Building online authority
Kathleen: Now, I think it was the second thing you mentioned there, was they need to have... After the website, they need to have some sort of critical mass of online authority established. What does that mean? What are you looking for there?
Kristen: I'm looking to see that other people have talked about them and have quoted them. Right? I think that lends itself very nicely to the new Google... I recently put up an article on this since we last spoke about the Google's authority and what they're looking for in this term called Eat. It's very important. It's all about having authority online.
That's where PR can really help if you're trying to increase your Eat on Google, you need authority. So Google, one of their quality raters what they look for is, it's not just about you saying that you're great. When we look online they need to see that other people are saying you are great and that you are an expert in what you're saying you are.
I think this is a very interesting time, and this is sort of changing the game in general for PR. You can't just pivot. You can't just say that you're an expert in everything anymore.
You have to say you're expert in one thing and it doesn't matter how many times you say it. If no one else does it, you're not an expert. This is going to be a major game changer for PR.
How to get started with PR
Kathleen: So if somebody comes to you and they don't have a lot of mentions online, can you work with them? Can you get them coverage? How do you start? What's that first step?
Kristen: The first step is that we have to do more of a brand audit and it's a different campaign where we're building that out for a longer period of time before we ever pitch anything to the media, and I think how you start with that is definitely content marketing.
If they want to show their expertise, they have to put out content that aligns with that expertise.
So the best place to start if they don't have other people mentioning them is to start putting out their content on their own site or on LinkedIn where they're showing what they know, or doing an E-book, or any sort of other inbound campaign, which I think is just very important. Having people link back to that to start to build up the authority even if they have no other outside media coverage.
That's where I would start for something like that.
Why inbound marketing is necessary for PR
Kathleen: That's helpful because when you think about how inbound marketing and PR go together, like I've said, I've talked to lots of companies that think you start with PR, then you do inbound and then maybe you do PR again.
But if what I'm hearing what you're saying is correct, it sounds like it does make sense to begin with some inbound marking first so that you have that content already created. You have potentially gotten mentioned, you're starting to establish some authority. Is that accurate?
Kristen: Yeah, it is accurate because here's the thing. You can say that you're an expert and have no content to back that up and expect people to write about you.
Kathleen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kristen: At that point, you're just a self-proclaimed expert. If a PR person is going to pitch you and that journalist looks you up, and they don't even see content written by you, how are you an expert? It doesn't make any sense.
I think that's a major mistake that a lot of people make. There are some PR people who obviously skip this whole content marketing part and that's not really practicing the new method of PR. I would say that content marketing and inbound is critical to work in silo with public relations. I don't think it should be separate.
What does PR cost?
Kathleen: Yeah. Now one of the questions I'm sure that anybody has if they haven't worked with a PR firm before is, this sounds great but what does it cost? I'm not asking what do you charge, but can you give me a sense of if somebody's considering beginning to do some PR and they're going to work with somebody outside of their company to do it, what sort of budget should they have just to get started?
Kristen: Sure. It really depends on, for example, are you willing to work with a public relations freelancer? Are you looking to work with a larger size firm? The scope of services and the type of media coverage that you're looking for and then the size of the firm all dictate the answer to that question.
Typically, I would say a reasonable range that PR services start at, you can see them anywhere from $4,000 or $5,000 a month and then up from there. For some of the larger firms, they could be charging $35,000 or $40,000 a month. So, it really, again, depends on the size of the firm. It also depends on the other ancillary services. For example, do you nee media training? That's typically going to be a cost. If you need a press kit, that's going to be an outside cost. If you need a personal branding website, that's going to be another cost.
If you need photography and head shots, another cost. So a lot of times those costs are not actually built in to the ongoing campaign. Managing scope creep is also very important in PR to understanding what the role of a publicist is, and if not, it definitely matters too.
What is media training?
Kathleen: Let's talk about media training for a minute because this actually came up in a conversation that I recently had. Can you explain what happens in a media training and what are you being trained about?
Kristen: Media training is really supposed to prepare you, a lot of the times for on camera interviews, and how can you be prepared, particularly in television in a breaking news environment. How can you answer questions? How can you not say things like um while you're doing interviews? Anything like that. So typically, when I do media training with executives, I will record them and we'll go play back what they sound like. If they do a segment, we will rigorously critique that segment, and say, "This is great, but here are all the things you need to do to improve."
So for example, can they maintain eye contact. That's what we look for or are they looking all over the place? Are there a lot of transition words? Can they cut back on that? Are they using modifiers like "in my opinion" that can be cut and that don't add to the interview? Are they talking for way too long and have they not been trained in speaking in sound bites? So all of those things are components in media training.
Kathleen: It's so funny because listening to you describe it, it makes me think of podcasting because I've been doing this now... I'm on episode 110, and when I podcast, I always send my audio off to be transcribed and then I have to edit the transcription for the show notes. Reading the written version of what I say is the most horrifying thing in the world.
I have discovered that I start just about every sentence with yeah. My guest says something and I'm like, "Yeah, let's talk about that," or, "Yeah, and I have a question." It's just so funny and I imagine it's the same thing with media training when you play back a recording. All of a sudden you're like, "Wait, I say that, that much? I had no idea."
Kristen: Yes, exactly. That's why it can be scary and that's why it's really important though. For example, in addition to running a PR firm, I'm also a television commentator. I've personally been on TV more than a hundred times on Fox News or other outlets, and still even if it's segment 101, I'm still rigorously assessing what I sound like because if I'm not doing that I'm not learning and I'm not getting better. I think that people don't realize that people that are on air all the time are still doing this very same thing. It's not just something that you start when you hire a PR firm. You have to keep doing it.
How to handle the tough questions
Kathleen: Yeah, and one other... See there I did it. I said yeah. One of the other questions I had is... Because this is part of what came up in the conversation I was having, how do you advise people to handle it when they don't want to answer a question? Is it, "I don't comment on that"? Is there a certain way to gracefully avoid answering.
Kristen: So I think there's two things. One, I'd call bridging. So, if you don't necessarily want to answer something or if you're not sure how, I would bridge it and transition it into something else. You can say, "This is a really interesting question, however I think this is the larger question." So that would be bridging. That's one option.
Two is always be honest. If someone asks you something and you are not qualified to speak on it, just tell someone that. Say, "That's a really interesting question, however I'm not sure I'm the best one to answer this, but if I had to take a stab, here's what I would say." You can say something like that as a modifier or you can say, "I'll get back to you on that one" You could do what Mark Zuckerberg did at the congressional hearing, where every single question he said, "I'll have my team get back to you on that." That's a perfect way of answering your question.
Which PR opportunities are worth responding to?
Kathleen: Okay, that makes sense. So circling back to PR for SEO and in tandem for inbound marketing back links. When you're pitching and you mentioned that you do reactive PR, how do you screen through which opportunities are worth responding to and which ones are not?
Kristen: Sure. The first thing I will do is I will look at the outlet. Is it a well-known outlet, or is it a random blog? The back-linking part I don't look at until the very end until something comes out because you don't really know if they're going to include a link or not. For me, if I'm going to send something to a client, I'm looking at it to think, is this an anonymous query? If it is, we're not replying. Is it a large national media outlet that we've heard of, which would be great to get a mention in regardless of the back link? Then yes, I'll send it to them. Is it worth their time to answer this?
How many questions are on there that they want answered, and do I realistically think the client can answer it by the deadline that's given. So all of those things factor into whether or not I think that they should look at that. Again, I look at back links as great added bonus of doing PR, but if people come to me and say, "You need to guarantee back links." I tell them, "There's no way any public relations professional can guarantee back links. Reporters don't even know if a link is included."
So there's a lot of scams out there right now where people will... I'm sure you've received them too. Where they send you this nice long sheet and go, "Oh for X thousand dollars, for this one off I'll get you informed for this mention." Well Google's changing the game right now, rather, with how all of that's handled and if you look at the quality rater's guidelines, they also clearly mention that they can tell and that, they're very aware of those links and that they don't count for much.
So I would say that's a waste of time and a waste of money. Spend your time and resources doing PR the right way, and if you get links out of it then that's an added bonus.
Kathleen: Now you mentioned anonymous queries, and this is something that I've always wondered about. So I look at HARO all the time and like you said, some of the calls for sources they say, "I'm with this particular news outlet," and then others are just anonymous. I've always wondered about that because sometimes I think, "Oh, well if they're anonymous they're some podunk place." But then other times I think, "If they're anonymous maybe they're someplace big, but they don't want to let people know that." I don't know. What has your experience been with that?
Kristen: It's a gamble. It's 50-50. It can go either way. So sometimes it could be like a major outlet, but they have an internal editorial policy, which may state we don't want someone else scooping up this story or we can't use HARO. So that reporter may put it in as anonymous. So technically they're not using HARO. That's one option. Another thing is that it really is a much smaller site and they know that no one is going to answer their query if they say, "This is for my hole in the wall blog that no one has ever heard of." So, it can go either way.
How to identify PR opportunities
Kathleen: So for somebody who's listening and thinking, "Gosh, I'm not ready to hire a PR firm yet, but I might want to dabble in to trying this out for myself." Are there... There's obviously HARO, which is Help A Reporter Out, which is a great free source that you can read and respond to. Are there any other really helpful places that somebody can go to on their own to see what kinds of stories other reporters are working on and potentially respond?
Kristen: I think the best thing that they can do is really just read the news. I know that sounds so simple. So many people don't do it. Everyone is looking for this cheap quick fix on how they can do something, which is why I'm not really a fan of do it yourself PR for a number of reasons, but the main one is that do-it-yourself PR can actually be quite dangerous. I've seen people make major mistakes because they're not media trained.
They say all sorts of things. They don't really know what on the record versus off the record even means, and then they want someone else to fix it. And that part... And they can't. Right? Because they read some advice somewhere and told them to try it and then it hurt them, and then their CEO is not happy. I would say you have to be careful.
However, if you're interested in figuring out, "What is the media really writing about?" So maybe you're a digital marketer and you want to get quoted in the news. Go into Google and then click news. Then put in digital marketing. That's the first step I would take.
If you don't want to hire a PR firm, that's what I would do and I would set up Google Alerts for that and set up Google Alerts for your name. I would use a site like Mention because a lot of times Google Alerts doesn't pick up everything it needs to now. Then I would start seeing... For example, let's say I comment on Instagram. I have Google Alerts set up for Instagram.
Or for Trump's tweets or anything relevant to what I talked about, and then I get... that's just becomes part of my day. So maybe you're a cardiologist and you're speaking on artificial intelligence and cardiology. I'd set up an alert for AI Cardiology. That's more of an inbound approach to PR really because it all comes to you.
Then you start formulating an opinion on that. I would then take that opinion, write content around it, put it on your own site, and then I think what you're going to start to see is that if its good content and you optimize that content, you can be found for that content by a member of the media.
I will say this, people always say, "How did you get started in television?" I got started in television because of content. I wrote a really cool article on how social media was impacting the world of dating and it was for Jdate.com, and this was like 10 years ago.
I tweeted that article. I did not have a PR firm at that time and I was still more so in social media. A producer found my article on Twitter. They found the content, they liked the content, and they said, "This would make for an interesting segment, would you like to come on the show?" That's literally how I got started in my career in TV was because of content.
I would urge your listeners to consider that when you're thinking about how to get there. That's a do-it-yourself PR approach, but it's not dangerous because you're not necessarily reaching out to the media directly. It's a content first approach.
Why Twitter is key for your PR strategy
Kathleen: Now do you find that there are certain channels in which you can publish your content that make it more likely that you will be found by a reporter?
Kristen: Yeah, Twitter and LinkedIn. I mean, just 100% because journalists are the biggest users of Twitter. We have clients that say to us, "I don't want to be on Twitter," and I say, "You don't have a choice. You have to be on Twitter because if I'm getting you hits, I need to tweet those hits because reporters want traffic to their articles." This old school notion that PR is just take, take, take and not give is so antiquated. Y
ou can't expect that someone's going to write about you and then you're not going to help push traffic to those articles. Which is why whether it's a podcast, or it's a reporter at a different outlet, they want to see that you're pushing it out too. Social media is an integral part to that process.
Kathleen: Twitter is so incredibly misunderstood. I find that with every client I've ever worked with... I was in the agency world for, oh my gosh, 13 years and almost everyone, including the heads of many agencies would say, "Twitter is a waste of time.
I don't want to be on Twitter." It always blew my mind because not only is that where all the reporters are, but it's the only platform where you can directly reach out to anybody regardless of where you're connected with them. So the access on Twitter is unbelievable.
Kristen: I mean, if you want to get on the radar of journalists, they're on Twitter. The other thing you could do is create a favorite list and look up some reporters and then add them to a favorite list and start favorite them for what they're doing, or replying to them and get on their radar in that way. It's a great way to use Twitter, and obviously, it's strategically hashtag. If you really want to learn how to use PR, go on Twitter and use #PRfail.
They will actually blast different publicists or do-it-yourself PR people, and you can learn from that. You learn a lot. It's just amazing. They'll put out bad pictures on there. I think there used to be a blog called Bad Pitch Blog. I don't know if it's still around, but I mean, you learn how to do PR the right way by looking at it the wrong way.
Kathleen: Yeah. See I still say yeah. Even though I try to get myself not to. Now I've also heard that YouTube is really valuable. Especially for getting picked up for television because that allows people to see your on camera persona. Have you found that?
Kristen: I think that definitely makes sense more so in the entertainment space. I think it adds to credibility and I think anytime you do a TV segment you should put it on there. Do I think that, for example, would I have gotten discovered from YouTube if I was just doing something on my own? I don't necessarily think so, no. But entertainment, yes. If you're a singer, if... So that's just a whole other area of PR.
Kathleen: Interesting. And you mentioned LinkedIn. How do you see LinkedIn playing into this?
Kristen: I think publishing articles on LinkedIn is very valuable and using hashtags on LinkedIn can also be very helpful to get found for your content. LinkedIn is at this amazing point right now where they are really almost giving away views in organic traffic, more so than Facebook is because they want to become more of a social network. So, there's this massive opportunity, especially with video on LinkedIn right now, if you want people to find what you're doing. So, from what we've learned with clients, video definitely does the best.
And you could put the same video on Facebook, or Twitter, and Instagram, and you're just going to see the views are so much higher on LinkedIn.
Kathleen: Absolutely. I have been testing out LinkedIn Video now for several months, and I did a LinkedIn video recently about it because I looked back at all of my posts and the posts that had video in them, almost in every single case got 10x the number of comments and views as a post without video. It was so starkly obvious what a difference it made. So I completely agree with you on that.
Kristen: Yeah, but I mean, they want to incentivize users to be doing more videos. So that's why you can see it. If you look at the analytics, you'll see that that's what they're trying to do.
Kathleen: And it won't last forever, I'm sure but right now it's a great opportunity. I want to talk a little bit about results. Obviously, you can't divulge client names and things like that, but can you just, in an anonymized sense, can you give me a sense of what kind of results companies that you've worked with have seen from PR?
Kristen: Sure. For example, one company that we work with, they have received over 35,000 visitors in search alone over the past year. Again, we're not doing any paid marketing or paid advertising. That's just because of content marketing and PR. That's all inbound traffic. Another company is actually ranking in search engine results on page one for specific... In the snippets, which everyone is trying to get in right now. There is content that we created for them years ago that's ranking now.
That content hasn't even been historically optimized yet, and it's still ranking. Why? Because we answered questions. That has to do with our approach that we started on Facebook where we grew that audience from zero to over 5,000 fans right now, and basically used their business fan page as a community and group page. Because of that and because we took the time to answer their questions and with an ask the expert format, that has skyrocketed their search engine results.
I would definitely say that that's something people should be doing. Answering questions is so underrated. People spend so much time on SEO but don't actually answer questions. If you want to appear in snippets you have to do that. I would also say podcasting has been, for that client, a big part of their growth strategy, in terms of being a guest.
They've probably recorded over... I don't know. Over 900 minutes of time on podcasts and I can see the analytics for that and I can see the conversion rates. I see people's comments when they say, "I heard you on this podcast. I'm interested in coming to you now." I see on their social media page where they say, "I read about you in this article." Well, I know what those articles were because I placed them. So that's PR. I read about you. Are you taking on new clients or new patients?
I can actually literally track it from the PR hit to them then going to the social media pages to saying, "Are you taking on new patients?" Or direct messaging that, and then to a new lead going through the contact form, and becoming a patient or a client. So, I would say, again, that's not any sort of... that's happened across the board for several clients.
Kathleen: It is interesting how it snowballs too, right? You get your name out there and that is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy because you're building that Domain Authority, which helps you get found more. As you said, the content that you create that lives in the snippets can live forever.
PR is an investment
Kathleen: So it is sort of an investment as opposed to, you think about paid advertising and it's like a drug. You can't ever stop. But this is more like an investment.
Kristen: It is, and I would say... I mean, you're right. It does snowball. Media snowballs into other media. That's what people have to understand, and I think people that have the short-term approach to PR, then they shouldn't hire a PR firm. If you're going to hire a firm and you're thinking, "You know what, I need you to do X, Y, Z by this date, and I need it now to do X." It's just not going to happen, and even if it doesn't happen, it's the wrong approach because you're not building a community.
You're not building anything that has intrinsic value to others. So, you just getting hits is good for you, but how is that good for others. So the clients that I've had great success with are... The one thing that they all have in common is they are other-centric, they're not me-centric. So when you're other-centric it allows us to do the best job we can for them because they're building out something larger than themselves and all of it is around education. So, I always say, "Egocentric PR is not a PR strategy."
It's very important for people to understand that. The PR strategies that we deploy are education focused, and I think clients get the best results, and again, even if it's education focused, that sounds very similar to inbound marketing.
Kathleen: I was just going to say, that's basically the premise of inbound. It's a give before you get kind of mentality.
Kristen: Exactly. What's so funny is that these people that work with me and hire me, they just really wanted to get great educational content out there into the world and build up their brand. When they're working with me they're not necessarily saying, "I need more clients or patients or people in the door," because they've achieved a certain level of success and they want to do other things. The most amazing things that happens is all of this happens as a result of it. But it's not because they were even trying to achieve that goal. It's because they put their users and their audience first, in terms of just giving, and giving, and giving great advice and content.
Kathleen's two questions
Kathleen: Right, well that's so interesting and thank you for explaining all of that. I want to shift gears now and I have two questions I always ask all of my guests and I'm curious to hear what your responses will be. The first one is when it comes to inbound marketing, is there a particular company or individual that you think is really killing it and doing it well.
Kristen: I thought a lot about this, and it's hard for me to say that any one person is doing inbound well is because the way I look at this is I look at different attributes of how someone is doing something well. So, I can't necessarily point to one person.
I can give you all the answers that I think everyone else points to all the time. I could say Gary V, and Gary's great, right? Of course, Gary V is doing it. I'm sure every single guest in your show says that, so I want to give you a more unique answer.
I think that doctors that are taking the time to answer patients' questions are doing it well. Again, I don't want to name any specific ones, but I think that in general if you take the approach where you look at the most frequently asked questions that you're asked all the time and you write them down, and you write content around it, I think it helps you and it helps your patients and it helps your clients.
Kristen: So anyone that's doing that gets a gold star in my book.
Kathleen: I've always really admired Mayo Clinic for that. They are like the Wikipedia of medicine. It almost doesn't matter what you Google, they pop up with an educational article on that thing. Causes, symptoms, treatments, yada, yada, yada. Though we can not name specific doctors, I would say the Mayo Clinic, in general, is an institution has really done a great job and committed heavily to inbound.
Kristen: I think if people wanted... just a tip for inbound is to use the notepad in your phone, and when people ask you questions or if a prospect emails you a question, literally save that question. That can be a great part, a foundation of your content marketing strategy. People spend so much time trying to figure out, what do I write about? Well, just write about what you're already answering.
Kathleen: Yes. Yeah. It's staring all of us in the face, right?
Kristen: Exactly. Also, when you write that, write how people are... The language that they are using to type into Google when they ask you those questions. But I think something that most people are not doing today is that they're just missing the boat on optimizing their content for questions. I think that's something that... The term is called historical optimization, which I think is critical of any PR SEO campaign right now where everyone has to do it.
Refresh older stuff that you've written. And also, I would say, use PR to amplify the content that you've written. So, if you've written a great blog post and maybe you've done a podcast, you should include that podcast link into whatever relevant content that you've already written around that. So, you're constantly just adding value to your audience.
Kathleen: Yes. It's so funny because I 100% agree with everything you just said, and it's so interesting to me that it's like, somebody from the PR world who so intuitively gets what it is to do inbound marketing correctly because that's really what it is all about.
Kristen: Well, I just want to say one thing about that. What really amazes me is I don't understand how people can practice PR today and not have an understanding of inbound because if you don't, you're not helping your clients. Those clients are setting their money on fire. You can not be doing all of this stuff and have SEO in a different area and content and inbound in a different area. It doesn't work. It doesn't help your clients.
So you need someone when you're interviewing a firm, you need to make sure that they have an understanding of all of this because what I see is, you could hire a firm and they could get you all these hits, but if you do nothing with the hits then it's all a waste. It's not just about getting press coverage. It's about what you do with the press coverage.
If you do a podcast and no one hears the podcast, was there any point to doing the podcast? No, there was not. You have to market the coverage that you get.
Kathleen: Yes, yes. Totally agree. Second question because you are a PR person who clearly understands marketing. The world of digital marketing is changing so quickly. You talked about Google updating its quality rater guidelines. How do you personally stay up to date and current on all of these things?
Kristen: Sure. So I read a lot of different search engine blogs currently. I think one is Search Engine Land. I have a lot that sort of come in that I've subscribed to that are helpful. I know even just a PR... I think there's PR Daily that I get. I get so many of these different newsletters.
The other thing, again, is that I truly go to Google News and I look for the terms. I will actually go. I will click Google, I will click news, and then I'll put in SEO or I'll put in Google or I'll put in rankings. I mean, that's my own approach because I want to see things that are happening by the hour and not everyone is necessarily searching that way. For me, I think it's important.
Same thing with PR, with everything else that I'm researching. I think the reason I got into that habit is from doing news segments. I could literally be booked to talk about something and then two hours later that story has changed.
So I constantly... It's one thing to sign up for newsletters, but it's another when you're in a breaking news environment and the story could have changed.
Kathleen: That's a really good point for anybody who's preparing to be interviewed to just do a quick Google news search right before your interview to make sure that nothing has changed.
Kristen: Yes. Because a lot of the time everything changes. And then you could be-
Kathleen: So true.
Kristen: ... watching a teaser and they go, "Coming up, so and so is talking about this." And you don't want to be caught off guard by saying, "Who is so and so," and they go, "That's you, and you're live and go."
Kristen: You want to avoid that from happening, which again, goes back to the importance of media training and being prepared. I'd also say try not to check your email, especially from clients right before you go on air.
Kristen: Because that can really throw you. A really important media training tip.
How to connect with Kristen
Kathleen: That's a great piece of advice. Well, so many good nuggets here Kristen. I really appreciate you sharing all of this with us. If somebody is interested in connecting with you or learning more, what's the best way for them to reach out?