The outcomes of strategic public relations can be hard to predict, and while certain metrics can help define success, a common question PR agencies face from clients looking to grow their businesses is this: how can PR improve my bottom line?
This can be a tricky question. PR goals should be clearly delineated from the outset of any program, and expectations managed. But in our experience, PR tactics can dramatically help a growing company’s business, opening up new partnerships and driving sales. Here are just a few examples.
The simple call to action. When it comes to earned media placements, sometimes a simple “download now” with a link to the offering is all that’s needed. We recently worked with a company whose newest product was an app that aggregated magazines, and often basic stories that included a link to a site where readers could access it yielded a strong spike in downloads.
But consider this tactic with measured expectations. There are cases where a direct call to action for a product was included in stories in top-tier publications, with few results. While click-through traffic spiked in most cases, sometimes it didn’t convert. For brands, it’s important to know your audience and understand the typical sales cycle.
There’s “riches in niches.” This was a favorite saying of a former client who worked in a niche industry, and it follows closely after “know your audience.” When the product or brand tends to appeal to a highly specialized audience, securing stories in niche media outlets is often effective. When our agency supported the product launch of a new beer from an iconic American brewery that had been reverse-engineered from a “lost” recipe, we knew it would appeal to hard core craft beer aficionados. And while plenty of mainstream outlets covered the launch with glowing reviews, it was niche outlets like Beer Advocate that drove business.
Is it local? Borrowing a phrase from Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, is there a way to play up the local angle with the hometown news outlet? For a business still looking to establish itself, making connections in the local business community is often a key to long-term success. Joining the local Chamber of Commerce is one thing, but when the Chamber’s president reads a compelling profile in a local business publication about your company and invites you to speak at the next meeting, well, that’s something else. That’s what happened for a recent new client, Five Elements, the only American commercial firm manufacturing personal robots domestically. Never underestimate the power of a local, homegrown story.
“Measure programs, not tactics,” is another PR mantra. It’s a good reminder that even the most effective public relations tactics don’t typically work in a vacuum, but as part of a brand-building campaign over time.