Shift Your PR From Push To Pull

Something interesting has happened with the advent of all people and companies becoming media.  It is now possible to shift your PR from the infinite treadmill of push to the more reliable and greater returns of pull.

This is a complete 180 from how PR used to be done.  But it’s a higher value path because it is organic and scalable – your influence grows by virtue of your presence if you fully embrace a pull strategy.  Bring your desired audience to you where they will listen intently as opposed to unartfully pushing your messages to them.

I could speak from a strategic level on why shifting PR from push to pull is smart, but let’s drill down to a simple example to illustrate it.  PR is far more than just publicity, but publicity is certainly a KPI of nearly all PR programs (if not an objective of many).  In other words:  all PR people can agree publicity is vital.  Yet it’s not working so well from a push perspective anymore.  Consider two major influential groups PR folks target, and why push is failing:

Traditional media are more concerned with if they have a future than whether to write up your pitch.  While just a decade ago, traditional media and PR shared a symbiotic relationship, that relationship is currently on the rocks.  As PR folk become more pushy (and noisy) and traditional media feel the squeeze of a changing landscape, this relationship won’t get better anytime soon.

Bloggers may not be interested in your pitch at all.  Technorati’s 2009 state of the blogosphere revealed that 72% of bloggers are most interested in sharing their expertise and 71% blog in order to speak their minds.  Does push PR really fit into these motivations?

With that said, as push PR fades in relevance, pull PR only continues to grow more potent.

Pull offers sustainable growth

By embracing a pull PR strategy, one that includes tactics such as content marketing, you’ll build out your digital footprint naturally over time.  And more content will attract increasing amounts of attention from all channels monthly – search and social –  as you put more digital hooks in the water.

Pull PR is strategic, push is inherently tactical

Push PR is inherently tactical in nature, whereas pull is far more strategic.  Blogs are the ultimate pull marketing/PR tool, and the reason most fail is because they don’t act strategically, they act tactically.  The problem is success is not easy and results take time to see.  Most simply won’t commit, or will quit before their strategy has started working.  However the returns payoff huge for those who develop an effective pull strategy and follow it long term.

Pull PR lives at the intersection of PR, SEO and social media

Is your PR agency is SEO & social media savvy?  I asked ten questions to assess this at Online Marketing blog:

1. Are you implementing social media marketing, but not SEO?
2. Do your social media and SEO efforts work together?
3. How do you measure the return on investment of your social media engagement efforts?
4. Is social media something you do in your spare time, or is it a core function that requires a dedicated resource?
5. How much effort is put toward managing the search and social media friendliness of your corporate website?
6. How strategic are the recommendations for the company blog?
7. What is your company’s approval process for micro-blogging?
8. Is your current PR agency effectively optimizing your news content for search and social media?
9. What is your PR firm’s true core competency: traditional PR or social media and SEO?
10. Have you considered hiring a social media specialist?

The answers to these questions your firm provides are key to assessing whether they understand pull PR.

Pull creates the right kind of web popularity

By developing a PR strategy to bring people to you instead of always pushing your message to them, you are going to nurture a very different kind of reputation than if you were always badgering people to spread your messages.  It will be a relationship based on permission (they will want to hear more).

Pull PR makes you less reliant on traditional media

And yet, the amazing thing is that in time pull PR will deliver far more truly earned media.  The reason is simple:  it’s more powerful to be found by influencers than seeking them out.


Public relations is evolving quickly and it’s clear why.  When everyone is media, you can carve out your own share of voice in the world.  And as a byproduct of this, you’ll actually attract more media.  When you have the ability to shift your programs to be less reliant on externalities and more on your own strategy it seems shortsighted to ignore this.

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image credit: mitzy via Shutterstock