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Published September 17th 2015

Events: PR, Honesty, and Disrupting Digital Business at Inbound ’15

The marketing technology masses enthusiastically descended upon Boston immediately following Labor Day for a meeting of the minds: Hubspot’s INBOUND.

One part user-conference, one part knowledge sharing forum on all things marketing/PR/tech, there was certainly no shortage of pizzazz, big-name entertainers, and of course unlimited Dunkin’ Donuts.

The conference’s bespoke hashtag, #INBOUND15, saw a lot of action for predictable, popular, tweet-worthy parts of the nearly-weeklong conference.

Such as the Amy Schumer “INBOUND Rocks” entertainment event on the last night.

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Or Aziz Ansari’s comical keynote (which felt more like a fireside chat) where he discussed the affects of technology on our dating life, and more broadly how we communicate and connect in a Twitter-hungry, Snap-ing, and instantly Instagramming culture.

Public relations in the age of martech

As a PR professional working in tech for nearly eight years, I was curious to see the strategies and best practices when it comes to building and maintaining strong relationships with journalists, influencers, and bloggers in an authentic way.

And as the PR Manager for a social intelligence company with a powerful social listening and analytics platform, I was even more excited to hear what other methods and metrics PR professionals were using to report results.

The session “Getting Ink: Inbound Strategies for Building Relationships with Traditional Media Outlets and Bloggers” presented by Scott Kirsner, renowned writer for Boston Globe and BetaBoston, gave a frank look at the tactics that work when connecting with bloggers – and the ones that just annoy them.

“Customers want you to solve their problem. Journalists want you to help them tell a great story,” Kirsner said during his talk.

Seems simple enough.

As PR pros we should help media tell a great story.

The key to achieving this is as simple as speaking in a human voice, customizing communications, and targeted outreach only when story ideas or news updates are truly relevant.

SEO, PR and honesty

Public relations is the top of the marketing funnel, and depending on the activity and resulting coverage, sometimes considered just outside of said funnel.

But Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich and author of Spin Sucks, gave an inspiring, matter-of-fact, and interesting talk describing in detailed specifics how media relations, that good old traditional bastion of brand promotion on the outskirts of marketing, can directly influence SEO.

You’re on the edge of your seat, aren’t you? You’re ready for the secret sauce. 

It’s all about links and domain authority in searches, and educating journalists on the mutually beneficial practice of linking back to unique, relevant content for further reading.

At the heart of this strategy is honesty.

When you’re working with a reporter on a story, tell them you’d like them to link to this relevant blog post and why — because it will provide further reading on the same topic for their readers, improve your brand’s SEO as well as yours since Google likes and rewards cross-pollination in this manner.

Dietrich also drove home the fact that “the single best way to increase domain authority is through traditional media relations.”

Beyond marketing tech, it’s about being human

The subconscious theme at Inbound wasn’t how to be a better marketer, or utilizing the right technologies.

It wasn’t about tips or tricks, or how to get more Twitter followers or Facebook fans. It was all about increased connectivity and finding real source of real connection with other human beings.

This shined through in their partnership with The Malala Fund, underlining the importance of equal human rights (we’re talking about you, women’s rights) and education.

This may seem completely off-topic during a marketing technology conference including sessions on how to improve domain authority, or using inbound strategies to optimize lead generation.

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But it’s not, because fueling education and equal human rights now will directly impact and influence the future of our industry, needless to say of all industries.

Chelsea Clinton’s keynote on the last morning of INBOUND proved to be an eye-opening look at stats around the lack of equality (wage and otherwise) when it comes to women’s rights – not just around the world but here at home in the U.S.

The United States, for example, is one of only nine countries in the whole world that does not mandate maternity leave.

Those other nations are mainly made up of small island nations that are not nearly as advanced technologically and economically as we are.

Food for thought.

Disrupting digital business with Ray Wang

Principal Analyst and CEO of Constellation Research, Inc., Ray Wang, delivered a powerful presentation at INBOUND this year that saw attendees lining up for 30 minutes to speak with him afterwards.

Disruption is a topic that is often talked about, but rarely executed effectively.

The market is changing so fast that you have to be transformational,” Wang said. “If your [activities and strategies] aren’t saving time or capturing attention, you’ve already lost.”

Wang described that digital disruption is more than just a tech shift. It’s about transforming business models and how we as marketers engage with the world.

His fives steps to digital disruption are:

  1. Design new experiences and outcomes
  2. Develop a culture of digital DNA
  3. Apply new business models and tech to existing infrastructure
  4. Move from cut to data-driven decisions
  5. Co-create and co-innovate with new partners.

Bound for INBOUND 2016?

With dates are set for the next INBOUND meeting of the minds (November 2016), you’re probably wondering if it’s worth attending.  Half the sessions we attended were incredibly poignant, eye-opening, and an avenue to gain new and useful knowledge.

The other half tended to consist of more beginner-level tracks for learning tips and tricks when first starting out in public relations or other departments within marketing.

It’s worth paying attention to any event that boasts such influential social industry personalities such as Ray Wang, Viveka Von Rosen, Mari Smith, and others. With over 14,000 attendees at this year’s INBOUND event, marketers converged to share insights and make real connections. Which was the underlining theme after all.

You’ve gotta network to get work, after all.

Did you attend INBOUND 15? Do you have additional insights to share from a session? Feel free to leave them in comments.

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