Public relations isn’t just for publicity, awareness, and reputation management. A company’s sales and marketing teams should consider PR as a lead-generation tool that can work in tandem with business development and paid advertising. Here are some things to consider when planning your next campaign.
PR as a lead generation machine
Earned media boosts SEO
If a CEO offers expert commentary – or a byline or guest blog post in a key media outlet, that content can earn valuable visibility and leadership positioning for the organization. What’s more, if the piece contains a link back to the company, it will boost its search ranking. PR content should be optimized for SEO, complete with thoughtful keyword placement and inbound link accumulation. But it’s not just about links anymore. Prominent brand mentions that don’t contain links can also drive higher search placement because Google sees them as implied links. Effective PR campaigns that drive earned media visibility maximize the impact of all media placements in a variety of ways, resulting in a 1 + 1 = 3 boost in SEO rankings that encourage desirable referral traffic. If you’re a PR pro needing a refresher, check out our earlier post on what PR people should know about SEO.
PR aids business development
Big wins in earned media can help elevate a brand into the consideration set of a customer who’s in the market. A brand’s own content and that of retail partners certainly help here, but features and reviews offer a credibility that can move a customer closer to conversion. Earned media mentions not only build brand awareness and credibility, but can display a company’s differentiation — another way media placements can reinforce lead generation.
Sponsored events join online and offline PR
A well-attended public relations event such as a discussion panel can generate leads through digital traffic and in-person attendance. Key media, industry colleagues, experts, and prospective customers are all target attendees. The event – and the company – may be promoted through mentions in the event’s collateral, and panelists’ and moderator’s communications, like social media and company website news pages – setting up opportunities for referrals. Plus, a solid company sponsored panel event will yield PR/marketing content such as video, media coverage, blog posts, social posts; and its discussion can be repurposed as bylines or white papers.
Public speaking can generate leads
Industry awards and conference speaking engagements are plum opportunities for an executive to earn respect and visibility from powerful industry peers – and build leads. A prominent conference may have big brand sponsors, which increase its visibility and domain authority. But the real leads come from the fact that conferences are often giant multi-day networking events during which a company has a stage for displaying its offerings and its expertise. Sometimes a key brand client will join up with the thought leader to talk about the company’s innovative services, conferring an added degree of prestige to the speaking engagement. Building relationships with like-minded colleagues, big brands, industry legends, analysts, and media can be key to stimulating new business opportunities.
If you write it, leads will come
Today, it’s all about quality content in both marketing and PR. A company’s best thought leaders should be writing as much as possible for use on owned media. Churning out optimized press releases, blog posts, LinkedIn posts, videos, white papers, and even business books can contribute to search rankings — while also helping to position a company as a knowledgeable authority. But PR writers should take care not to get keyword-obsessed. Quality and relevance have never been more important, given the sheer volume of content out there. The results can prove exponential, given that this content can be reused, repurposed, promoted on social channels – and yes, parlayed into earned media wins.
Customers are the best salespeople
Once a lead has converted, you have another potent PR and marketing tool: success. Customer reviews become case studies, and satisfied customers tend to spread the good word. Especially for B2B companies, case study testimonials are another trusted third-party endorsement that can be a lead generator — and perhaps even a closer. Marquee clients will often be glad to write a glowing testimonial – which the PR team will publish on the website, in blog posts, and on social channels. Not only that, but a key client can be tapped for inclusion in most PR tactics, from earned media, to bylined content, to prospect education and speaking opportunities where big brands are featured and “vendors” are frowned upon.