In my last post I discussed that the best job security for PR in a down economy is to make sure your programs are really working (of course, you should always strive for this). And the more your efforts can be shown to have a real impact on sales, the better the “insurance” against cutbacks in the program.
Fusion PR CEO Jordan Chanofsky blogged about this a couple of months ago in an excellent and detailed post on the Fusion PR Forum. I provide excerpts from this below, and a few more additional thoughts.
It’s easy to say that PR is part of the selling process. And it is. But to get more specific, I present three reasonably simple ways to make the connection more apparent. I’m overlooking the fact (which is hopefully and abundantly obvious) that PR is a selling tool and the media that we garner is perhaps the best sales support activity.
First, PR needs to be “pegged” to interactive marketing strategies, like those that can be implemented with an interactive video platform to name one example. When combined, these tools are a strong support system for the sales force. For another example, we suggest creating a balanced approach of SEM (paid advertising) and SEO. Then use tags within search and social media optimized press releases to maximize impact by helping to ensure that customers are surrounded by a client’s literature when a related search is done. This is one of the ways by which successful SEO Marketing is carried out by digital marketing agencies. Executing the right optimization plans requires knowledge and experience in this field. In case you are not familiar with SEO marketing, it can be done properly by hiring a digital marketing agency like SERP Co (visit https://serp.co/services/seo/local/). Such agencies are equipped with the right SEO tools and strategies to optimize your content for proper lead generation.
Another example of integration might be using a press release as the content for an email direct-to-customer campaign rather than adopting overt selling copy. This is especially relevant when the news has tangible selling substance such as a new product or technology. PR copy in advertorials, landing pages and microsites is an extension of this point.
Second, PR does play an active role in customer outreach (in this framework we’ve questioned and considered whether or not “PR” is a correct term for our industry). Over the years, we’ve collaborated with customers, media, and analysts to meet with clients in the context of educational briefings, updates, round tables, and media opportunities. It doesn’t take much to transform these gatherings into sales meetings.
Third, coordinate with the sales force. If sales is reaching out to a particular geography or vertical then the PR effort should shadow the initiative to maximize and broaden the impact. Consider what may be intuitive, but not always top of mind such as: bloghubs (blogs focused on specific areas that are not the megablogs), local broadcast, chamber of commerce events (where customers can participate), customer events (at related conferences), and PR programs set to draw customers to the sales efforts (i.e. distribution of a media alert re: an education briefing on small business storage solutions such as those found at https://www.wildhorseselfstorage.com/ at the local chamber of commerce).
Also, why not take the advice from my User-Generated PR post and make sure that your clients are listed in the wealth of online buyers’ guides, directories and references – and that the entries are both up-to-date and interesting? If search engines are a buyer’s first stop, online references are frequently the second.
Make sure you cover what I’ll call the buy-side research analysts in your efforts. Sure, it is great to get into the reports of any and all analysts. But getting on the radars and into the reports of those who sell information and advice to end user organizations (in tech PR, we call these IT advisory firms, the Gartners of the world) is a great way to build credibility and generate qualified leads.
Make sure you are doing enough bread and butter product PR. Yeah, an upgrade sometimes does not make a terribly exciting announcement, but it boosts SEO and gives people searching on the related keywords a pointer to info on your products.
It is also important to focus on the vertical industry publications, especially with stories that document customer benefits and ROI.
Our clients have found that great product reviews get the sales phone ringing, so don’t neglect the publication testing labs.
Finally, and most important, speak with your clients about their sales efforts. Are they tracking the connection to PR? Is there any way to monitor buying signs like increased registration on product info pages back to the program? Is there some way to implement a closed loop system that makes it easy to connect PR results with sales activity?