After working more than twenty-five years in the public relations field, I’ve seen numerous changes in the profession. In particular, I’ve observed a subtle blurring of the lines between PR and marketing. At first, it was because “marketing” became a catchall word used by many for anything to do with increasing awareness and/or supporting sales: advertising, speaking, and yes, public relations. It was semantics. However, with the relatively new concept of inbound marketing, I don’t see a blurring of the lines so much as I see a winning “one-two” punch combining these similar disciplines for our clients.

Credit: Pixabay

Credit: Pixabay

First, let’s be clear what “inbound” is, with this description from our friends at Hubspot:

Inbound marketing is an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful — not interruptive. With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media. Unlike outbound marketing, inbound marketing does not need to fight for potential customers attention. By creating content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers, inbound marketing attracts qualified prospects and builds trust and credibility for your business.

To a seasoned PR vet, inbound sounds an awful lot like public relations. How? Well, by definition (see PR is about credibility and awareness:

Public relations is the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person.

My colleague Robert Wynne gave a pretty good explanation in Forbes:

PR is the Persuasion Business. You are trying to convince an audience, inside your building or town, and outside your usual sphere of influence, to promote your idea, purchase your product, support your position, or recognize your accomplishments. Here’s what the Public Relations Society of America PRSA agreed upon after a few thousand submissions: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
PR people are storytellers. They create narratives to advance their agenda. PR can be used to protect, enhance or build reputations through the media, social media, or self-produced communications. A good PR practitioner will analyze the organization, find the positive messages and translate those messages into positive stories. When the news is bad, they can formulate the best response and mitigate the damage.

In PR we don’t buy ads for clients to get them covered in the news media, we instead identify what is most unique, credible and newsworthy about out clients and tell that story to the news media, industry influencers, and potential customers in hopes of getting them to say great things about our clients, (see earned media). We use tools like press releases, media relations, speeches, social media, podcasts, blogs and more to achieve those ends.

We help our clients achieve a high-status level of credibility through earned media and other efforts so that prospective customers seek them or their brand out. The ultimate success is when our clients become known to new customers (for want of a better word), then delight these customers so much that customers become brand ambassadors.

That, in essence, is what inbound marketing does. Not too far off from PR.

As detailed in the graphic above, inbound uses similar strategies and tools as PR–and inbound marketing has innumerable success stories. When an inbound marketing program is firing on all cylinders, a solid PR strategy complements it. You’re not only bringing prospects to you with inbound, but with PR in the mix, you’re also using an affordable, more effective version of outbound marketing in tandem.

At AGPR, we uniquely combine our knowledge of inbound marketing with decades of practical experience in PR and social media to become a powerhouse for our clients. We help them:

  1. Become known and get found for their expertise
  2. Use social media tools to drill down to their core audience
  3. Attract prospective clients from anywhere in the world
  4. Constantly connect with prospects–even while they sleep (a blog post that a prospect finds while searching the net is a good example)
  5. Become known as a thought leader in their industry or niche
  6. Get the kind of leads that have a reasonable shot at becoming customers. It’s great to have site visitors, but if the visitors are just kicking the tires, you’re almost no better off than if they never found you at all
  7. Monitor and measure to continuously improve their marketing for maximum effectiveness

Want to learn more? Check out this great post about inbound for your business.

For more great posts by Alex Greenwood, visit his blog at