In response to the question about PR affecting the bottom line, I have put together this information.
When trying to understand the impact of PR, you need to understand the main business goals. For example, "our overarching goal is to increase visibility outside the US with a focus on the UK" for a retail software company. While direct attribution to the bottom line is difficult to measure, together with a client or your marketing bosses, you will need to establish acceptable proxies for business impact.
So, directly relating to the goal above are for example mentions in tier 1 UK media publications. You would create a publications list with titles that matter to the retailers and technology buyers.
The impact on bottom line includes:
- Awareness and information about the company – this paves the way for sales, with cold calling being less troublesome. With a build up of media coverage, when your company name is mentioned, a quick Google search will show news and articles, adding credibility and even amplifying the perceived size of the company.
- Third-party endorsement at a lower cost - you can spend quite a lot on advertising. However, as this study shows, your audience is likely to seek a credible recommendation from a trusted source before making their purchase. PR identifies the go-to source for your audience (be it a local business news website, IT blog, online news channel or TV) and gets your service featured.
- Build a reputation - PR isn’t all about headlines, using a combination of tactics, such as awards, speaking slots and events, your business presents the right messages to potential customers, is seen in the right places, wins the right awards and more.
- Content marketing – press releases and articles are creating precious content that can be shared via your social channels – this is crucial to building awareness of the company; the articles we place with media publications have to be of higher quality than some blog posts that appear on many companies' websites, and are distinguishing you as an expert and thought-leader; while news demonstrates a company where lots of valuable activity is going on. Winning business, new hires and the like are stories that show a company is trusted by others.
- Organisational motivation – PR helps to build morale, teamwork, productivity and supports your corporate culture; PR activity can help to make employees prouder to be working for your company. When your employers are out and about, some of the people they meet will know via PR that “your company wins awards”, “you just won some major contracts” etc. Employees will be excited to be part of this great company.
- Social responsibility – charitable efforts can help to create and maintain a good reputation.
To make it easier to measure impact on the bottom line, here are some recommendations:
- Sustain a regular drumbeat – keep a regular news flow that can help us to target key publications – at least one press release a month
- Target numbers for publications – aim to get a certain number of mentions over six months
- Add links where possible – while some vertical publications will allow links, this is often very difficult for local publications with a no link policy. Rather than linking to a home page or microsite, if we link to other valuable content on your site, e.g. research, we can increase our chances of having a link included
- Monitor website traffic growth
- Monitor social media followers and engagement growth
- Measure growth in media mentions from the start of a campaign, and again every six months
- Measure reputation every year by surveying target businesses – this is a major undertaking, but can be done on a smaller scale, e.g. with target journalists asking questions at the beginning of six months like have you heard of this company, what do you know about them, do you have a positive impression of the company, what do you want to hear from them etc, etc. The aim would be to take the findings and improve on them. When moving to a new geographical area this can be done at the beginning of the campaign
- Have content to support product and services launches – when launching a consumer product, a link may be provided where to buy, the same can be done for new B2B products and services. These links should drive readers to a detailed landing page with whitepapers, webinars, downloads etc
- Target specific audiences – it’s easier to measure if you are more focused with sales. For example, if you want to sell performance testing to the retail sector, or analytics to financial firms, it’s easier to measure success as it will be more obvious that PR has an effect as more specific enquiries will come in or people will come to your website looking for quite focused information.
To make PR work harder for you, we recommend that all sales team members:
- Share public relations success – they should share news/articles to their prospects and via social media such as LinkedIN
- Incorporate expert sound bites and images of noted articles or media logos in sales presentations and webinars for added validation
- Continue to reintroduce news or feature stories in direct customer communications, whether that is through social media, targeted newsletters or campaigns, in-person meetings or as tailored outreach. Part of this can be packaging best articles into PDFs and sending “I thought this would interest you” messages.