By Catherine Allen (@catherineallen)
The winter chill and snow that hit New England recently didn’t keep the warm crowd away from the Publicity Club of New England’s first Masters’ Institute program of the season. The focus of the session, “Dissecting the Process of Tying Public Relations to Sales,” was too important to miss.
The passionate panel included moderator Kate MacKinnon of AT&T, and panelists Suzanne Locke of Dassault Systemes, Bernd Leger of Rapid7, Stacey Santo of Rue La La and Laura Tomasetti of 360 Public Relations.
There were three highlights that we came away with.
- Audience – The panelists addressed the ability of PR to build an audience. After all, if you haven’t built an audience you have no one to sell to, or no one to build brand loyalty with. PR can help become the pathway to purchase, especially as consumers (in B2B, B2C and professional service markets) begin their research on the Web where online articles and social media content become gold for SEO.
- Sales – A few panelists talked about the need for PR and social media education across the executive level. They agreed that if you’re “at the table,” so to speak, then you will hear all the best information to use in PR, align objectives, and educate on what PR can and can’t do. To take it a step further, some PR pros in the room shared their experiences of attending sales pitches, or helping to create sales decks, as well. They found it invaluable to hear the sales pitch, hear the lingo and hear the pushback. They felt it better prepped them for the next PR push.
- Measurement – Yes, it’s important to measure. But first, everyone must agree on the objective, so you know what to measure. It can also be helpful to isolate PR for certain marketing pushes – so you can truly tell the return of PR vs. an integrated marketing-PR-ad spend program. The panelists also highlighted the importance of “knowing your numbers” at all times, to be ready to answer questions from the C-suite as needed, and to keep your PR/social teams honest with the progress.
Smiles appeared around the room on one of the final topic of the morning: “What happens if we win?”
It’s a great place to be – to have planned a successful PR program or campaign, and been able to measure flawlessly and support sales or another objective. One panelist said, “We don’t just get the word out, we support the business holistically.” And another, “PR has been critical to opening doors for sales.” The rewards of success for these panelists have taken many forms, from increased headcount, to having the success presented to a company’s board and earning that recognition, to earning a higher budget or the incremental dollars to explore new PR opportunities for increased visibility for their company or organization.
And that’s a beautiful thing. Here’s to your success!