Before the dog days are upon us and you head off for summer vacation, you would do well to take a few minutes to consider one of the most powerful yet often misunderstood tools that marketing services companies can employ to promote their capabilities -- public relations.All businesses that are serious about growth should establish a budget for PR and marketing. It's simply fundamental to business development. The key to success, however, is partnering with an agency or a consultant who understands your industry and can help you achieve long-term goals.
When it comes to marketing creative, business-to-business firms, content-focused public relations (PR) campaigns can generate qualified sales leads by informing potential customers of your special expertise and how it can further their goals. The most common lead-generating B2B PR technique is an editorial outreach campaign with a storytelling approach. The objective is to get your company’s point of view published, under an executive’s byline, and senior managers quoted in publications that your prospects and clients regularly read. Such media coverage demonstrates your practice strengths and can have a significant impact on lead generation, especially when integrated into your overall marketing outreach program including distribution via social media channels.
A public relations expert can help you develop a unified message platform that emphasizes your core strengths and mission, which will
provide a foundation for your marketing and business development campaign. PR pros can also help define and simplify the language around service offerings from the customer's perspective -- but don't
expect to get the "ink" you want with self-centered material. It is imperative that you take the client’s point of view and produce content that seeks to meet their needs. Finally, to make your
story stand out among the hundreds of email pitches that editors receive daily, your story concept must strike a chord by tying into trending events.
Finding a PR firm to meet your needs
But even if you don't think you have a strong story, you may find that an experienced PR professional can suggest topics that will effectively promote your business. Finding an appropriate agency is the most important step, so look for firms who specialize in your industry or market segment. A quick way to build a short list of agencies is to talk with reporters and editors about who they work with frequently and respect. Then review a few of the stories the agency has had published for clients to determine their level of understanding and success.
When it comes to working with PR firms, clients should not bluff about their knowledge or their expectations of the PR process. A PR firm can't help unless you, the client, adequately communicate the scope of your knowledge about the business and a willingness to learn how the PR process works.
And don't expect too much too soon or -- sorry -- for too little money. Most PR
firms will need a few months to do their homework and a few more to begin to deliver media results. Results may come even more slowly unless the PR campaign is championed by senior management, gets
buy-in from all participating executives, and has access to key executives as needed.
PR has multiple benefits
The fruits of public relations, including press coverage, goodwill generated and a positive impact on the stakeholders’ perception of your firm, can have powerful, cumulative effects on your business. Media surveys show that articles are believed and remembered four to six times more so than advertising, so when you are catching up with your business reading while lazing at the beach or resort this summer, make it a point to consider the origin of those stories -- bet PR played a key role in their publication.