Imagine you just developed a top-secret recipe for The World’s Best Barbeque Sauce. The sauce is so good that you want to quit your day job to devote yourself full time to selling jars of it to the masses. You take your product to Major Grocery Store Chain and try to convince them to start stocking The World’s Best Barbeque Sauce on their shelves, essentially “pushing” your product to the consumer. However, if you set up a barbeque stand on a busy street corner, start giving out free samples, and consumers start asking Major Grocery Store Chain to carry your product, you are instead “pulling” your product into the market.
Public relations follows the same two strategies of pushing and pulling. The terms refer to how your message is disseminated to the public. Push PR describes the traditional methods—press releases, media alerts, event invitations, press kits, and pitching story ideas. The downside is that you are completely at the mercy of another party—a news editor decides to run your story, your invitation gets into the right person’s hands, etc.
Pull PR is a little more proactive. It involves publishing your message on your own, whether through social media, an online newsroom, blogs, keyword searches, and search engine visibility. Basically, everyone and everything becomes media. Let’s say someone does a Web search for “Push and Pull PR.” This blog post appears in their search results and after reading the article, they click over to the GodwinGroup webpage. This is a prime example of pull PR.
Before you write off Push PR altogether, understand there are situations where one or the other will work more effectively. Push PR is more efficient for targeting your campaign to a specific audience. Pull PR works to disseminate your message to a larger audience and is vital to the success of a website or blog. In some cases, the line between push and pull is blurred. You can actually pull people in by pushing information out. A press release pushed out by an online news service can be found by consumers through a Google search. You may not have been targeting the person conducting the Google search, but your article pulled them in regardless. An effective PR campaign will take advantage of both sides of the spectrum.