|By Bekki Bushnell, Head of Business Development
Let’s accept a simple truth – PR is sales support.
It is a topic I have previously covered on the Whiteoaks blog, to look past the smoke and mirrors that many PR agencies create to deny any accountability to the wider business. After all, if you can drop a nice pile of clippings on the marketing director’s desk, you must be doing your job, right. Right?
One of the many benefits to the business development role is working with clients from across the technology spectrum to set PR strategies, regardless of where they sit on the maturity curve. They have either had a bad experience (often through signing up to a monthly retainer and getting plenty of timesheets but little in the way of activity), or are investing in PR for the first time to aid their growth.
What interests me is the differing treatment that PR is given by sales teams. Many acknowledge that increasing positive perceptions of the company through media coverage in relevant press titles will aid their business. Others search for a link between that appearance in the Financial Times and the number of inbound phone calls they receive off the back of it. Were that a hard-and-fast way to judge PR success, we would all be multi-millionaires.
It can often be tricky to find commonalities given the range of personalities, size of business, markets they operate in and so on. However, there is one – content.
The first step is to speak to all relevant internal stakeholders to get an overview of the industry in which the company operates. This includes the barriers the industry faces and how the company’s products, services or solutions solve these challenges.
And here is where content plays a key role. You could draft a whitepaper, for example, that sets out those industry challenges and proposes solutions. This asset could be hosted on your website, firstly to capture details of prospects, and secondly, to give those leads something to look at once they visit your site.
And what you’ve created is an asset that can be used across multiple channels.
Take a traditional media relations campaign. Strong content will enable you to build a bank of thought leadership materials, placed in your target media, showcasing an understanding of the issues and challenges in the marketplace.
Soundbites and snippets from the whitepaper can then be used across social channels and in regular blog posts, driving web visitors to relevant content that speaks to the issues and challenges they face.
If prospect data is strong enough, this issues-driven content can be turned into email direct marketing, reaching out to specific targets. Suddenly, you are far more able to showcase how this content is impacting individuals.
While I am being deliberately brief for the purposes of the blog, what I hope to demonstrate is how content can feed not only a traditional PR campaign, but truly impact the sales cycle.
Stay tuned for more – the PR debate cannot be settled in one humble blog!