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Rethinking Today’s Inbound Marketing Mix
Posted on September 5th 2014
When I was first approached about the job I hold today, it sounded like a PR job based on the title. A deeper look at the job description told a different story. This didn’t surprise me as I have been preaching about the convergence of PR, social media and content marketing for years.
My ongoing argument has been that the three disciplines have more in common than they have differences, and their job descriptions are often similar, despite the vast variance in title. My experience with Thismoment is not unusual, and the trend goes deeper than the mere job description. It includes discussions about how PR, social and content are merging and how PR should be included within the inbound marketing mix.
Best of all, for PR pros, this trend offers a career expanding opportunity.
What is Inbound Marketing and how is it Related to my Social, Content or PR Job?
Hubspot does a fantastic job describing inbound marketing, which is good since they sell inbound marketing software. In their “What is Inbound Marketing” Slideshare presentation they describe inbound marketing as “a holistic, data-driven approach to marketing that attracts individuals to your brand and converts them into lasting customers.” They explain that inbound marketing is all about content and context, and the goal is to create the right content, for the right people at the right time.
Inbound marketing is not disruptive marketing, which should prove exciting to marketers when you consider that people are becoming more and more wary of obvious advertising. As Hubspot reports, 86% of people skip TV ads, 91% unsubscribe from email lists, 44% of direct mail is never opened, and hundreds of millions of people are on the “Do Not Call” list. In today’s consumer jaded marketing world, they make a compelling case for the power and necessity of stealthy inbound marketing.
For the digital marketers reading this, inbound marketing is nothing new. What is new is how we are putting inbound marketing into in practice within our own organizations. For years, marketing has been separating inbound marketing from PR in organization structure diagrams. However, in practice, we are regularly asking our PR pros to be inbound marketers. In many cases we’ve mistakenly failed to realize that the lines between inbound, content, social, PR, etc. have blurred.
How This is Impacting Social, Content and PR Jobs
A few of us in PR, social and content marketing have failed to recognize the trend, unsuccessfully digging our heels in and claiming our respective territories as unique and independent. Others have spent time looking at how our individual jobs are similar to what others are doing and made adjustments to either expand our own knowledge, sharpen our skills outside of our comfort zone or, at times, took on ownership of new disciplines and channels.
If you talk to a PR pro, a content marketer or a social media manager, you’ll find each has a point-of-view on the other, generally based on the continually blurred lines of their respective positions. They all want a piece of the other, but in many cases, they are not willing to give anything up.
If we look at the similarities within each discipline we quickly see the crossovers and begin to accept that maybe, just maybe, the PR job is not terribly different from a social media or content marketing job.
Parallels Between Social, Content, and PR Jobs
- Topline definition: At their core, all 3 are storytelling disciplines.
- Goals: All 3 aim to garnerbrand impressions and drive traffic.
- Channel: All 3 require 3 party validation and interest in your story to work (PR = journalist/blog, social = fans sharing, content = search engines and fans and journalists).
- Skill Sets: All 3 are impossible if you don’t have writing and communication skills.
- Measurement: All 3, if done properly, are highly analytical and require close monitoring in order to iterate successfully.
Impact and Long Term PR Job Prediction
On the day of my first phone interview with Thismoment, the posted job title was “Senior Director of Corporate Communications,” a PR job. However, when speaking with CMO, Dan Kimball, my brilliant new boss*, we quickly agreed that the job he was looking to fill was not, in the strictest sense, a PR job. We had a great talk about PR, social and content, how they are becoming one in the same and agreed the title should be “Senior Director, Content Marketing.”
Similarly, when I was hired on at my former company, I was hired on as Director of PR, but held the title of Director of Content Marketing within a few months. The jobs that once fit snugly into the framework of a “corporate PR job” are beginning to blur into the realm of social and content.
This is not to suggest that PR jobs will go away; as a matter of fact, they are popping up all the time. As reported by Pew Research Center, there are five times more PR pros than there are journalists, which is not only a sad commentary on the current state of journalism but an indication of an increased perceived value in PR.
They go on to say, “One factor behind the increase in public relations jobs has been digital technology. Agencies and companies are now able to reach out directly to the public in any number of ways and are hiring public relations specialists to help them do so...” This represents researched and documented proof that the realm of a modern PR job is widely recognized as including content and digital marketing functions.
This is good news for PR pros; it means their ever expanding, content marketing based, job skills are needed beyond the old-school PR expectations. No longer are they being pigeonholed as “the team that writes press releases.” With this evolution, PR pros are being utilized in new ways and will expand their worth through the organization. Their skills are being recognized as valuable across nearly every aspect of the top-of-funnel inbound marketing mix.
Party on PR pros; you’re well suited for a bright future within the inbound marketing mix, and possibly on track to a bit of an identity crisis…
*Yeah, Dan is pretty smart. After all, he did hire me. And, this is, in no way, meant to be me sucking up to my boss. No brown-nosing here; this is authentic praise…