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This is a 12-question interview with Iliyana Stareva, the creator of Inbound PR and the author of Inbound PR: The PR Agency’s Manual to Transforming Your Business With Inbound. Her book was published last week- yeap, really hot off the press. Iliyana works for Hubspot, the company that ‘gave’ us Inbound Marketing 10+ years ago. More specifically, Iliyana Stareva is a Global Partner Program Manager at HubSpot and author.
But let’s go on with the interview please.
Spiros: First of all congratulations on your new book; it does take a lot of commitment to write a book. May I ask what was your motivation? What is in the book that cannot be found on the internet?
Iliyana: Thank you, Spiros! I come from a PR background after years working in PR agencies and when I joined HubSpot – a CRM, marketing, sales and customer experience SaaS company. I had the opportunity to master inbound marketing where I saw a gap in what PR was missing. That gap was namely a metrics-driven, measurable approach to doing the work. We’ve known that the PR industry has been lagging behind on technological development so I wanted to make my contribution to revolutionising it with my Inbound PR model.
I’ve been writing about Inbound PR for years on my blog and people can learn a lot about it there, however, the book is extremely practical with regards to how to approach. That’s what makes it more of a handbook rather than just a theoretical book.
Spiros: We have Digital Marketing (which ‘contains’ Inbound Marketing) and Digital PR; and depending on your views there is a thick or a thin line between them. Where/ how do you see Inbound PR fitting in this landscape?
Iliyana: For years, the disciplines have been blurring. Not just in terms of digital, but also marketing, advertising, PR etc. In general, digital is about technology and that might include bridging the gap between the physical and the online (e.g. how you apply digital technology in a shop and relate it back to the online experience). Inbound is all about the bringing people to you through any tactic but particularly within the online space, through your content. It’s a different mindset where the strategy and the human touch matters more than technology. Technology just becomes an enabler to what you are trying to achieve and who you are doing it for.
Spiros: Is Inbound PR that much different from Inbound Marketing? Please tell us how?
Iliyana: Inbound PR takes a lot of the principles from Inbound Marketing. The main difference is in the persona you are dealing with. Inbound Marketing focuses on the potential buyer, whereas what’s unique with PR is that it deals with so many stakeholders – each and every one of them could be a persona of focus, for example the media persona.
Spiros: Does Inbound PR assume that you work only on/with digital environments?
Iliyana: Predominantly yes, however, it’s all about a changed mindset that has 3 principles:
- Human first
- Metrics driven
There are many ways to apply these in the offline world, especially when it comes to events which we know is important in PR.
Spiros: You basically ‘invented’ Inbound PR. Can you tell us what needs it addresses and what solutions it provides?
Iliyana: Correct, I came up with the concept. Inbound PR combines the best of two worlds – traditional PR and Inbound Marketing with their expertise in content – and alleviates PR’s biggest challenge – measurement – through Inbound Marketing planning and thinking.
Inbound PR provides the entire framework for how you should be setting your goals in order to measure the results of your activities as well as what tactics to put in place to achieve those goals.
Spiros: Can you please tell us about the most successful Inbound PR project/ case Study so far?
Iliyana: I always like to use myself as that example because Inbound PR arose through content and Inbound PR tactics. I started blogging about it, people started remarking on the content. Some started reaching out to me inviting me to speak at their events. The public at those events got more and more curious and were asking for more resources and a book. I was pulling everyone in, not pushing any messages out with relevant content on my blog and during my talks. So that’s when I started writing the book and now it’s out in the public.
Spiros: And what you might consider the ‘biggest failure’ -if any so far?
Iliyana: That I didn’t write the book as soon as I had the idea. It took me almost a year and a half since I decided to write until I really sat down and began the process. I guess I couldn’t find the headspace before that.
Spiros: How old really is Inbound PR? I know that everything goes through a maturity process and it needs time. Have there already been some Best Practices/ Guidelines ‘developed’ for Inbound PR?
Iliyana: The first ever post that I wrote about Inbound PR was in July 2015. Since then, the concept has been developing and growing through feedback and the book has all the best practices and guidelines.
Spiros: Being in PR myself, I know that one of the problems we all struggle with is proving ROI and even having the right PR metrics. How is that different for/with Inbound PR?
Iliyana: With Inbound PR, everything is about the metrics. The Inbound PR methodology provides metrics at the every stage. However, what’s most important is that Inbound PR is a mindset change where before you even start thinking about the tactics (e.g. media relations, social campaigns etc) that you want to implement, you must first define the larger goals for the organisation in terms of the revenue that must be generated and what role PR needs to play there. What’s different about Inbound PR is that it believes that PR can and should impact Sales – something that traditionally PR hasn’t thought about.
Spiros: What do you see or have faced as challenges for Inbound PR?
Iliyana: I would say the biggest challenge would be for PR professionals to wrap their heads around the required business thinking when it comes to company goals and relating them back to their day-to-day jobs. I always say that PR people need to develop business acumen and really study finance to see how a business functions and makes money.
Spiros: Do you see Inbound PR as something that can be used also in the African geography? If yes, any specific tips for Ghana or Africa in general?
Iliyana: The principles of Inbound PR can be used anywhere around the world. I’m not that familiar with the business environment in Africa but as long as there’s a need for establishing brands and communicating with audiences, there’s definitely a need for Inbound PR too.
Spiros: Is there a user-group (s?) that people can go and talk to each otehr and share experiences? Any existing popular #hashtags?
Iliyana: People can use the #InboundPR hashtag on Twitter or Instagram and reach out to me at any time at @IliyanaStareva or any of my other profiles online.
Spiros: Thank you for taking the time to answer all these questions. Are there any webinars planned or other online events where our Ghanaian readers could learn more about Inbound PR?
Iliyana: Absolutely my pleasure, thank you for inviting me. The next event planned where I will talk about Inbound PR is the Global Digital Marketing Summit II (EMEA edition) which is an online event people can sign up for.
Iliyana’s book can be bought online at either Amazon or Barnes & Noble. NB: I know that Amazon UK in theory ships to Ghana but receiving goods can be a ‘challenge’ and they can rarely process Ghanaian credit cards (I always have to use my European one).
Finally, I am once again thankful to Iliyana for providing these links for further reading: shipment of any goods in Ghana is a ‘challenge’ to say the least!
Disclaimer: Neither Spiros Tsaltas nor the editors/ publishers of this interview have any financial gain or other financial motivation from this interview nor from the sales of the mentioned book.
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