Carefully Crafted on March 19

PR: You Can’t Sell What You Can’t Explain

“The techification of the entrepreneurial culture is also warping the greater business community’s understanding of, and appreciation for indirect marketing benefits. Technologists are data driven. Everything is based on direct response revenue. This bodes well for direct mail, SEM and other dollar-made-for-dollar-spent measurement channels. It may be the death nell for public relations, social media, brand advertising and more. Sans customer service, which for some reason even direct-response marketers “get” as a necessary evil, the touchy-feely channels are in trouble.” — Jason Falls, Social Media Explorer

Can PR drive sales? Sure, that’s one outcome you can measure. But, it’s not the only outcome that matters. As I’ve written before, not all PR is quantifiable. Intangibles matter, too.

For those not in our field, the value of PR can be hard to understand. In today’s very data-driven world, it’s even harder to convey. It’s the age-old question: What’s the value of public relations? How do you measure the impact of [insert PR tactic here]? As Jason notes, PR people struggle to show value, especially when compared to tangible, measurable “dollar-for-dollar” tactics.

Entrepreneurs who don’t fully grasp the value of proactive, aggressive PR are left wondering why they should invest significant resources in this nebulous budget line-item. Instead, they look for quicker, cheaper options — options that they think will deliver the same outputs and outcomes. (Sidenote: This is how we end up with press release automation services.)

You can’t sell what you can’t explain.

This applies to those of you “selling” to secure internal buy-in and to those of us focused on business development for our agencies. Want to sell more? We have to start by clearly articulating what we do and why it matters.

So, tell me, what do you do? And, how do you show the value of your efforts?


Photo credit: jmcostanza



So much WORD Heather. As I commented on Jason's post, and on Gini Dietrich's follow-up:

1. It's not us it's them; it's the CEO and management who can't, don't, won't measure, won't invest past vanity likes and pointless AVEs. The splash profile piece in X mag or this empty celeb RT, that's all they 'get' so it's what they focus on. 

2. There is so much more to sustainable business success than sales; profit much? What contributes to a company's bottom line - their market cap and value, what Wall Street thinks, what top talent looking for the right gig, what keeps customers loyal in tough times - those X factors like reputation, like relationships. It's how Disney charges what they charge; customers see a 'value' their they don't in other brands, pay a premium for it. 

Working w/ small biz as I have it's hard to show these very important intangibles; they focus on (and pay for) end tactics, nothing else. Plenty of studies show the big $ Super Bowl ads don't sell, don't work - but they're not always "failed" campaigns. I use these examples for something they can "get." No matter recalls and other issues, your F&F and local mechanic still say Toyota's a good brand to buy, has resale value, etc. - that's brand reputation, that's PR. Look at Apple, Disney.. I ask them about their favorite brands and WHY. When my answers are typically the intangible X factors.. that's when I get them to see past ads and clicks and sales, see their are other forces that drive success - and biz comms (PR) is one of them. Doesn't always work, but I'm fighting the good fight. FWIW.

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