Listen to the Inbound Success podcast interview I recorded to learn more about public relations and how you can leverage PR as part of your inbound marketing strategy.
“It’s so interesting to me that somebody from the PR world so intuitively gets what it means to do inbound marketing correctly. There’s a lot of practical information here for any marketer who has ever considered using PR as part of their strategy.”-Kathleen Booth, Inbound Success Podcast Host
Inbound Success Podcast
“Ruby Media Group CEO Kristen Ruby breaks down the top myths surrounding PR and inbound marketing. In this podcast, Ruby 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 when you hire a PR firm.”
In addition, we cover the difference between PR for brand building and PR for SEO, as well as the difference between reactive and proactive PR.
Listen to the full PR podcast episode here
INBOUND PR PODCAST HIGHLIGHTS
Highlights from the Inbound Success Podcast Interview:
- A PR specialist is different than a media relations specialist.
- PR can encompass anything in a communications and marketing plan, whereas media relations is specifically about interaction with the media.
- PR is a great strategy for any business or healthcare practice that is looking to build a long-term, sustainable funnel of leads. It is also great for building your personal brand.
- One of the key benefits of PR is that it can contribute to building your domain authority, which is helpful for SEO.
- In terms of setting expectations for a PR engagement, the results you can achieve are very dependent upon the news cycle and what journalists and reporters are interested in covering.
- You should expect to commit to working with your PR firm for at least one hour each day.
- When it comes to inbound PR, it’s important to build up online authority so that the media sees you as a credible source. Building this authority starts with what you are doing offline. The key is to translate that offline authority into digital platforms.
- For doctors looking to get started with healthcare PR, publish content that is aligned with your media coverage goals. This content can be published on your website, LinkedIn profile, etc.
- The cost of PR can vary widely depending upon the scope of services, the type of media coverage that you’re looking for and the size of the NY public relations firm you want to work with.
- If you want to be on national TV as part of your PR plan, it is worth investing in media training as part of your public relations campaign. This will prepare you to be on camera and to learn how to field difficult questions from TV anchors, reporters, and journalists.
- There’s a difference between reactive and proactive PR. Kristen specializes in reactive PR, which entails responding to reporters’ requests for sources, as opposed to proactive PR, which she says is going out to the media and spamming them with unsolicited pitches.
Listen to the Inbound Success podcast to learn more about public relations and how you can leverage it as part of your inbound marketing strategy.
In an exclusive 45-minute PR podcast interview, you will learn the answers to your most pressing questions about PR and inbound marketing including:
- What is inbound public relations?
- The difference between PR and media relations
- How we built a client’s Domain Authority to 32 only using PR (and no paid advertising!)
- Why media coverage success rates are significantly higher when you practice reactive PR
- Why Twitter is critical for your public relations strategy
- PR for brand building vs. PR for SEO
- Why content marketing and Inbound marketing must work together for a successful Inbound PR strategy
- What makes for a newsworthy story?
ABOUT THE PR PODCAST GUEST
Kris Ruby specializes in strategic Public Relations and Media Relations and has over 12 years of experience. To view a full list of Kris Ruby’s podcast appearances, click here.
Podcast hosts: Do you have a podcast about PR? Are you looking for Public Relations Execs to share key insights? If you are interested in having Kris Ruby, CEO of Ruby Media Group, on your podcast to discuss all things PR, drop us a line.
P.S: We are passionate about educating people on how to leverage PR to increase media exposure. If you have a B2B or Healthcare marketing podcast and you are looking for a guest to educate your listeners about public relations, I am happy to share PR tips with your audience.
Plus, we always promote PR podcast appearances on social media if the information is valuable for our audience and people can learn key takeaways from the interview.
For interview and media requests, contact us here.
This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Ruby Media Group Founder Kristen Ruby breaks down the myths surrounding PR and inbound marketing. In this podcast episode, she goes into detail about who should consider using PR, when to use PR for your business, how much you should expect to pay for PR, and what kinds of results you should expect if you hire a PR firm.
In addition, Kristen covers the difference between PR for brand building and PR for SEO, as well as reactive vs. proactive PR.
There is a lot of practical information here for any marketer who has ever considered using PR as part of their strategy.
Highlights from my conversation with Kristen Ruby 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, Kristen says that the results you can get are very dependent upon the news cycle and what journalists are interested in covering.
- Kristen 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. Kristen 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, Kristen 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.
- 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 firm you want to work with.
- 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.
Listen to the podcast to learn more about public relations and how you can use it as part of your inbound marketing strategy.
ENHANCED TRANSCRIPT WITH BONUS MATERIAL:
Kathleen Booth (Host): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. Today, my guest is Kristen Ruby who is the CEO of Ruby Media Group. Welcome Kristen.
Kristen Ruby (Guest): Hi, thank you so much for having me.
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?
Kristen Ruby: My company is Ruby Media Group. I have been a public relations consultant for over a decade now. I work with clients and businesses of all sizes from small to midsize companies to Fortune 500 companies. I also do PR campaigns for medical practices and doctors.
I help companies with brand building, content creation, social media, public relations, and more. My mission is to help people get found online through integrated digital PR strategies. I am great at taking people’s offline thought-leadership and translating that online into digital platforms.
INBOUND PR: PUBLIC RELATIONS AND INBOUND MARKETING
Kathleen: This podcast is all about inbound marketing and people have mixed opinions about where 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 as the field has evolved over time.
You had some really interesting viewpoints on that and I wanted to start by having you explain what you see as what PR is, and the different uses of it, because there’s PR for SEO, and then there are other types of PR.
PUBLIC RELATIONS VS. MEDIA RELATIONS
What is the difference between PR and Media Relations?
Kristen Ruby: There is a difference between PR and media relations, so I want to also explain that first to your listeners.
PR can encompass anything in your communications and marketing plan, whereas media relations is specifically about interactions with the media.
I do a lot of media relations work, whereas some public relations practitioners focus on community outreach, partnership outreach, or sponsorship activations. These areas fall under a larger umbrella of PR and communications. So, PR can encompass many different areas of outreach, whereas media relations specifically focuses on communications with the media.
What does a publicist do?
A publicist will help you navigate through your interactions with the media and will get your brand message and story out there to the public. A publicist will also handle media inquiries and manage interview requests and talking point coordination on behalf of your company.
HIRING A PR FIRM: WHEN SHOULD YOU INVEST IN PR FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
How to measure the value of PR.
Kathleen: What do you see as the value of PR for the companies that invest in public relations? Who is it right for? When should you engage a PR firm for PR services?
Is PR worth it?
Kristen Ruby: With PR, it depends on 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 ten years, you already have a waiting list of patients, but at this point, you have other strategic business 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 medical career where now you 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 medical 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 say traditional marketing would make sense for that, including direct marketing and digital advertising.
When is the best time to hire a PR agency?
Kristen Ruby: You have to evaluate, “Are you looking for sales and leads tomorrow out of this, or can you have a longer sales funnel with what you’re doing?”
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, about building domain authority. That goes back to PR for SEO, so I wonder if you could talk about that.
PR FOR BRAND BUILDING VS. PR FOR SEO
Kristen Ruby: I have a great case study of PR for SEO. We worked with a health care client and we launched their personal branding campaign from scratch with a new website and an in-depth strategic deck. We had not done any direct marketing, and we’ve only done PR for them.
Their Domain Authority ranking now is 32 and that’s all from public relations. So, all of that authority and they have not done any paid advertising. It’s all backlinks 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 can happen when you’re not even trying for it.
With traditional public relations practitioners, there’s often a disconnect with SEO and PR because they’re so focused on getting the press coverage, and working with producers and journalists that they don’t realize they are building someone’s backlink profile and Domain Authority while they are executing a PR campaign.
Of course, you can never guarantee any press placements, and we could talk about that as well, but if you get backlinks it can be great, especially if you are securing press coverage for a client in a third-party national media outlet, and that outlet has very high Domain Authority, you’re benefiting from that.
Kathleen: It is tremendous potential if you have a well-known media entity. Those backlinks can be worth a lot.
Kristen Ruby: Yes.
PR FIRM EXPECTATION SETTING
What should you expect from a PR firm?
Kathleen: I want to talk about expectation setting when you work with a PR firm 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, etc.,” so can you talk me through when you first start working with a new PR client how do you determine what’s possible and how do you set expectations around that?
What should I look for when hiring a PR firm?
Kristen Ruby: The first thing that we ask a prospect who is interested in hiring Ruby Media Group for public relations services is, “What does PR success look like to you? How are you going to evaluate the PR engagement and what do those metrics and KPI’s look like?”
For example, if they say, “We want to be on The Today Show within a month.” Obviously, that’s going to be an unrealistic expectation. If they say, “We’re looking for around three or four press placements and digital mentions a month.” That’s a realistic expectation with my PR firm. I’m not sure if it is with every firm, but for us, I know that I can deliver that.
If they say, “I want you to guarantee a set amount of media 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 media guarantees.
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. Our main deliverable is very much dependent on a third-party variable at any given time: the media.
What should a PR firm do for you?
Kristen Ruby: 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 public relations practitioners misrepresent what they can do to try and close a deal, but it’s just not realistic. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about public relations.
For example, if you look at any given week in the news cycle there’s a lot of political news happening, such as the Trump impeachment hearing. What if you had a PR client that’s booked on TV this week? That segment will most likely 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.
How does a PR firm work?
Kristen: This is why it’s so important if you’re hiring a PR firm to understand this. The news cycle and breaking news dictate 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, it adds value to the breaking news peg.
That lends itself back to your original question, which is how to determine if someone’s going to be a good PR client.
In this heavy political news climate, a lot of PR practitioners will gravitate towards prospective clients that can comment on those areas because they know that they can get them booked on TV for media interviews.
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 question is: do you have at least one hour daily to work with your PR firm if you hire an agency? People make the mistake of hiring a PR firm and then they don’t give them what they need to do their job effectively. You have to supply content to your PR firm so that they can get you out there. That content is the backbone of what they are pitching to reporters.
You have to let your PR firm know if something’s going on that you can comment on, tell them. If there is a link to a news story that you think is interesting, share it with them and explain why. 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 press coverage is very unrealistic.
What makes a story newsworthy?
Kathleen: Now, someone comes to you, and their expectations are realistic in the sense that they say, “Hey, I would love to get four press mentions this month.”
I’m assuming that 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 story is and cultivate something that’s newsworthy?
PROACTIVE PR VS. REACTIVE PR
Kristen: There are two different types of PR. There’s proactive PR and reactive PR. I’m a specialist in reactive PR. Reactive PR is when you’re using different databases, whether it’s HARO, ProfNet or Cision, to reply to reporters queries in real-time.
There are a lot of new platforms coming out 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 traditional old-school approach where you’re going out to journalists and spamming them and saying, “I have this great idea, why don’t you cover it?”
But the problem with that approach is that they may or may not be writing about that topic. So, I think the success rates are significantly higher when you practice reactive PR, because you’re giving the media what they want, when they’re already working on that topic and it makes their life easier.
Kathleen: 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 media questions, and usually those questions tie into a breaking news story. If a reporter 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 packaging, I have a motto.
HOW TO BUILD YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
My PR motto is “Package, pitch, promote.” Phase one when I work with a new PR client 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 press-friendly web site for the media? 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, 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 a PR firm. Even though it sounds simple, most people don’t have all of that ready to go. So, we 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 recently created a helpful media 101 pitching checklist that I can share as well as a media guide too which may be helpful for your listeners.
DIGITAL PR: HOW TO BUILD ONLINE AUTHORITY
Why digital PR is your secret weapon for increasing E-A-T on Google
Kathleen: Now, I think it was the second thing you mentioned there was they need to have is that 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 reporters and journalists have quoted them. I think that lends itself very nicely to the new Google Quality Rater Guidelines. I wrote an article on what Google is looking for regarding digital authority and E-A-T. It’s very important. It’s all about having authority online.
That’s where PR can help. If you’re trying to increase your E-A-T on Google, you need digital authority. It’s not just about you saying that you’re great. When they 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 an expert in.
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 become an expert in one thing and it doesn’t matter how many times you say it. This is going to be a major game-changer for PR.
Launching a PR campaign: How to get started with PR for your business
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 press coverage? How do you start with PR and brand building? What’s that first step?
Kristen: The first step is that we do a brand audit and build that out for a longer period of time before we ever pitch anything to the media. It all starts with content marketing and strategic management consulting.
If you want to show your expertise, you have to put out consistent content that aligns with that expertise.
The best place to start if you don’t have other people mentioning you is to your web site or LinkedIn where you can show what they know. You can also publish an e-book, or any sort of other inbound marketing campaign, which is important. Having people link back to that content to start building authority is critical even if you have no other outside media coverage to start with.
Why inbound marketing is necessary for PR
Kathleen: That’s helpful because when you think about how inbound marketing and PR go together, I’ve talked to lots of companies that think you start with PR, then you do inbound marketing 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: Yes. You can’t say that you’re an expert and have no content to back that up and expect journalists to write about you. At that point, you’re just a self-proclaimed expert. If a PR consultant is going to pitch you to the media 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 executives make. There are some PR practitioners who skip the content marketing part and that’s not practicing the new method of digital PR. Content marketing and inbound marketing must work in unity with your public relations firm. It should not be separate.
PR PRICING: HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO HIRE A PR FIRM?
Kathleen: 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 doing PR and they’re going to work with a consultant outside of their company to do it, what sort of budget should they have to get started with a PR firm?
What does PR cost?
Kristen: The cost of hiring a PR firm depends on so many factors. A startup, entrepreneur, book author or small business is not going to spend 100k monthly on PR services. So, it is important to understand that many of the numbers you see floating around online for PR services widely differ depending on the vertical, industry and media coverage goals.
Public relations consultants and freelancers will be able to offer more competitive pricing because you aren’t paying for their overhead. If you want to work with a large size PR agency, you will pay for the brand name and may not be working with the senior-level strategists unless you are willing to pay a premium for it.
How much does public relations cost?
Before you can answer, “how much does PR cost?” ask the following:
- Is your brand ready for PR?
- What is the budget you have allocated for PR services?
- Do you want to work with a smaller firm or do you like the appeal saying you work with a large agency?
The scope of services, the type of media coverage that you’re looking for and the size of the PR firm will dictate the answer to the cost of PR services.
Typically, I would say a reasonable range that PR services start at could be anywhere from $5,000 a month and then up from there. For some of the larger NY PR firms, they could be charging $35,000 or $40,000 a month. It depends on the size of the public relations firm and the other ancillary services that the public relations firm is offering.
How much do PR packages cost?
Let’s say the cost of PR services you signed up for is $10,000 per month. It is important to keep in mind that there are outside costs as well that may not be covered in your monthly retainer. This is where understanding a la carte PR pricing is important, plus the outside costs section of the contract you sign with a PR firm.
For example, do you need media training? That’s going to be a separate cost. If you need an electronic press kit (EPK) created for your business, that’s also 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 new headshots, another cost. So, a lot of times those costs are not built into the ongoing retainer for a PR campaign.
Managing scope creep is also very important in PR to understand what the role of a publicist is and what areas are considered a separate wheelhouse.
Can I afford a public relations campaign?
$6,000 monthly may seem like a lot to a small business for PR services, but this fee pales in comparison to the cost of a full-time in-house communications director or chief marketing officer. The question isn’t, can I afford to hire a public relations campaign for my business?
The real question is: can I afford NOT to hire a public relations director for my business?
Interested in PR? Contact us today to learn more about our Public relations packages.
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 session and what are you being trained on?
Kristen: Media training prepares you for live on-camera television interviews in a breaking news environment. How can you answer tough questions from news anchors? How can you learn to not say things like ‘um’ while you’re doing interviews? When I conduct media training with corporate executives, I will record them and we’ll go playback what they sound like. If they do a TV segment, we will rigorously critique that segment, and say, “This is great, but here are all the things you need to do to improve.”
For example, can they maintain eye contact? That’s what we look for or are they looking all over the place? Are they using 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 do not add value to the interview? Are they talking for way too long? Have they been trained in how to speak in sound bites for media interviews? All of those areas are critical components of 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 playback 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 also why it is so important. 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 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 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 do I prepare for a media interview? How to handle the tough questions.
Kathleen: How do you advise people to handle it when they don’t want to answer a question from a reporter? Is it, “I don’t comment on that?” Is there a certain way to gracefully avoid answering the question?
Media Training Tips and Techniques
Kristen: There are two media techniques we use for conducting media training that can be helpful with that question. 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.
The second approach is to always be honest. If someone asks you a question 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 (or dodging) the question.
How does PR work? Which PR opportunities are worth responding to?
Kathleen: Circling back to PR for SEO and in tandem for inbound marketing backlinks. When you’re pitching and you mentioned that you do reactive PR, how do you screen through which PR opportunities are worth responding to and which ones are not?
Kristen: The first thing I do is look at the media outlet. Is it a well-known media outlet, or is it a random blog? The back-linking part I don’t look at until the very end when a story is live because you don’t 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 backlink? 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? All of those things factor into whether or not I think that they should look at that. Again, I look at backlinks as an added bonus of doing PR, but if people come to me and say, “You need to guarantee backlinks,” I tell them, “There’s no way any public relations professional can guarantee backlinks. Reporters don’t even know if a link is included.”
So, there’s a lot of scams out there right now where people will send you this nice long sheet and go, “Oh for X thousand dollars, for this one-off I’ll get you quoted 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.
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: You mentioned anonymous queries, and this is something that I’ve always wondered about. I look at HARO all the time and as you said, some of the calls for sources say, “I’m with this particular news outlet,” and then others are 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 anonymous queries on Haro?
Kristen: It’s a gamble. It’s 50-50. It can go either way. So sometimes it could be a major media outlet, but they have an internal editorial policy, which may state they don’t want someone else scooping up the story or that the reporters 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 FIND PR OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUR BUSINESS
How to identify PR opportunities with free tools
Kathleen: For somebody who’s listening and thinking, “I’m not ready to hire a PR firm yet, but I might want to dabble in trying this out for myself.” There’s HARO (Help A Reporter Out), which is a free source that you can read and respond to. Are there any other helpful places that somebody can visit to see what kinds of stories reporters are working on and potentially respond?
HOW TO GET MORE PR: FREE PR IDEAS
Kristen: The best thing that they can do is to read the news. I know that sounds so simple. Yet, 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 they can’t. Because they read some advice somewhere and told them to try it and then it hurt them, and then their CEO is not happy. 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.
HOW TO GENERATE PR FOR YOUR BUSINESS
If you don’t want to hire a PR firm, I would set up Google Alerts for the key industry terms and 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. 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 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 a Google 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 TV 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—all because of content.
I would urge your listeners to consider that strategy 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 where you can publish your content that make it more likely that you will be found by a reporter?
Kristen: Twitter and LinkedIn. Journalists are the biggest users of Twitter by far. 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. You 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 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: If you want to get on the radar of journalists, they are on Twitter. The other thing you can do is create a favorite list and look up some reporters and then add them to a favorite list and start to 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 strategically hashtag. If you really want to learn how to use PR, go on Twitter and type in #PRfail.
They will actually blast different publicists or do-it-yourself PR practitioners, and you can learn from that. It’s just amazing. They’ll post 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 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 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 field. It adds credibility and anytime you do a TV segment you should post it to your YouTube channel. Do I think that I would 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, sure! That’s just a whole other area of PR.
LinkedIn for PR: how do I promote my business on LinkedIn?
Kathleen: Interesting. You mentioned LinkedIn. How do you see LinkedIn playing into developing a PR strategy?
How to use LinkedIn for your PR campaign
Kristen Ruby: Publishing articles on LinkedIn is valuable to your PR strategy and using hashtags on LinkedIn can also be very helpful to getting your content found by a larger audience. LinkedIn is at this amazing point right now where they are really almost giving away views in organic traffic, more so than Facebook is at 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. From what we’ve learned with PR clients, video performs the best.
You could put the same video on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and you’re going to see the organic view count is significantly 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. I completely agree with you on that.
Kristen Ruby: 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 about results. Obviously, you can’t divulge client names, but can you just, in an anonymized sense, give me a sense of what kind of results companies that you’ve worked with have seen from PR?
Kristen Ruby: Sure. For example, one client that we worked with has received over 35,000 visitors in organic search traffic alone over the past year. Again, we’re not doing any paid marketing or any paid advertising. That’s just because of content marketing and PR. That’s all inbound PR referral traffic. Another company is actually ranking in search engine results on page one for specific questions in the snippets, which everyone is trying to rank for right now. This is from content that we created for them years ago that’s ranking in the Snippets 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 five thousand engaged fans and used their business fan page as a community and group page. Because of that and because we took the time to answer their questions with an ‘ask the expert’ format, that skyrocketed their search engine results.
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 PR growth strategy, in terms of being a frequent podcast guest on relevant health shows.
They’ve probably recorded over 900 minutes of time on podcasts and I can see the analytics and 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. Or, “I read about you. Are you taking on new clients or new patients?”
I can 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 as a result of our PR work.
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
How do you quantify the ROI of PR?
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 Ruby: Media snowballs into other media. That’s what people have to understand, and I think people that have a short-term approach to PR, then they shouldn’t hire a PR firm. If you’re going to hire a PR 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. I always say, “Ego-driven PR is not a sustainable PR strategy.”
It’s 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 marketing. It’s a give before you get kind of mentality.
Kristen Ruby: 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 thing 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: Right, well that’s so interesting and thank you for explaining all of that. 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 Ruby: It’s hard for me to say that any one person is doing inbound marketing well 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 Vaynerchuk is doing it. I’m sure every single guest in your show says that, so I want to give you a more unique answer.
Doctors that are taking the time to answer patient’s 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. 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, etc. Though we cannot 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 marketing.
Kristen Ruby: I think if people wanted… just a tip for inbound PR is to use the notepad in your phone, and when people ask you questions or if a prospect emails you a question, save that question. That can be 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. It’s staring all of us in the face, right?
Kristen: Exactly. Also, when you write that, write about 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 content that you’ve written with historical optimization and use PR to amplify the content. 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 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 Ruby: I don’t understand how people can practice PR today and not have an understanding of inbound marketing because if you don’t, you’re not helping your clients at maximum capacity. Those clients are setting their money on fire. You cannot be doing all of these marketing/ PR activities and have SEO in a different area and content marketing and inbound marketing in a different area. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t help your business if everything is disjointed.
So, when you’re interviewing a PR firm, you need to make sure that they understand 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 a waste. It’s not just about getting press coverage. It’s about what you do with the press coverage afterward that truly matters.
If you record a podcast and no one hears the podcast, was there any point in doing the podcast? No, there was not. You have to market the press coverage that you get.
Kathleen: 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 Ruby: I read a lot of different search engine marketing blogs. One is Search Engine Land. I get so many of these different newsletters.
I go to Google News and I look for the terms. 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.
The reason I developed that habit is from doing news segments as a national television commentator on social media and tech trends. I could literally be booked to talk about something and then two hours later that story has changed.
It’s one thing to sign up for newsletters, but it’s another when you’re in a breaking news environment and the story has 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 Ruby: Yes. Because a lot of the time everything changes. And then you could be 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 in two seconds.” You want to avoid that from happening, which again, goes back to the importance of media training and being prepared. I’d also say don’t check your email right before you go on air because that can really throw you off your game. A very important media training tip!
Kathleen: That’s a great piece of advice. Well, so many good nuggets here Kristen. I really appreciate you sharing this with all of us.