A recent blog post on the HubSpot blog raised a lot of PR
hackles including my own. The anger quotient was ratcheted up immediately with the article’s
title, “Why PR Doesn’t Drive Sales.” The article claimed among other
pronouncements that sales folks don’t give a twit about PR and that there’s a
mile wide void between PR and sales. Commentators took issue with that as well
as with many other points in the post, which seemed to misunderstand PR and how
it is practiced.
Indeed, PR today is all about creating awareness, credibility and, ultimately, yes, HubSpot,
sales leads. B2B PR starts with understanding a company’s key differentiators
and how a company talks about itself. That means PR professionals help shape a firm’s
positioning and messaging and its overall communications strategy. That begins
with an analysis of the market place, a company’s competitors, its strengths and
weaknesses. HubSpot’s post made PR sound like a handmaiden of marketing rather that
of its rightful role–strategic partner.
Once messaging and positioning and a PR plan is created that
syncs with the overall marketing plan–and only then–PR can create and
implement programs to meet a company’s overall objectives. In the case of our
clients, PR objectives include such items as enhancing the client’s brand, thought
leadership and ultimately creating leads for the sales force. Most of our B2B
clients rely strictly on PR for sales leads.
While there is so much talk of the death of media, in our
experience a major article in a publication like the Wall Street Journal can be
the difference between a status quo year and a stratospheric one. A client of
ours, for example, who was featured in a top tier publication, is now fielding
RFPs from companies that had not previously come knocking.
Beyond press relations, B2B PR professionals can create
lead-generating devices such as surveys, white papers, videos, webinars and
other content that is not so much remarkable as accessible. Produced to inform,
educate and engage, it can move a prospect through the marketing funnel. Come
to speak of it, that’s in some measure what PR has always been about. It’s just
that today we have so many more tools to do just that.
Here are 5 ways B2B PR can Drive Sales:
Media relations. An
article in a publication read by a firm’s customers creates awareness,
credibility and ultimately gets the phone ringing. Today, thanks to social
media and the web, a publication can have a limited circulation and still
be heard ’round the world via digital word of mouth.
Surveys and other
lead-generating tools. Surveys can be deployed to create interest and
leads. Same for contests and other creative outreach.
By-lined articles, white
papers and other content. Any content today can help generate leads. PR
can take the lead by creating an editorial calendar that integrates with
marketing initiatives. For example, offer a white paper on a landing page
as part of a new product launch with an easy contact form to collect
Social media. Thanks to
social media, public relations’ platform has expanded to include the ability
to monitor and engage with virtually anyone. Via social media, you can
offer demos, run contests and other outreach programs that begin the
engagement process.Events, webinars. Getting in front of your target audience and selling your wares either via an event you create or attend or a virtual event such as a webinar gives your sales team a direct pipeline to prospects. PR professionals are of the ones creating events and/or booking their clients at events.
Follow @FastCoLeaders for all of our leadership news, expert bloggers, and book excerpts.
How are you using PR to drive sales? What are you doing to
create a robust PR program? I’d love to hear from you.
Wendy Marx, B2B PR and Marketing Specialist, Marx Communications