A decade ago I attended a meeting at my then employer with other founding members of a new business unit. My brief, as the PR lead, was to position the new venture positively and ensure customers recognised that our data and analytics could help with a wider set of requirements than was previously the case.
One of the salespeople in the room asked how many sales the campaign we had planned would contribute to the team’s target. Our seasoned marketing director answered before I did: “none, but it will make it much easier for you to make them.”
He was correct. The purpose of our PR was to drive awareness and understanding with our audience of customers and prospects. It was up to our colleagues in direct marketing and, ultimately, sales to encourage them to sign on the dotted line.
If asked the same question today, we could offer a different answer: “how many would you like to make?”
I don’t mean to be flippant here. Good PR will not make it possible for an expanding business to do away with its sales representatives. With more information gathering, supplier evaluation and purchases happening online, however, PR can now take a buyer well beyond its traditional scope.
By adapting the stories and messages created to engage audiences through the media and other influencers, it is now possible to attract more of the right kind of web traffic and engage visitors in a meaningful dialogue online.
Whether you call it content marketing, inbound marketing or simply ‘the new PR’ is irrelevant. It is about using the fundamentals of PR and a combination of science and storytelling to engage likely buyers on their terms, help them form positive associations with a brand and encourage them to take action.
Done well, this approach is transformative. It moves the customer attraction process from being one of push to pull, maximising the likelihood that prospects will become paying customers, and turning the web into a reliable, repeatable source of new business.
It also allows valuable sales people to spend less time cold calling and chasing prospects, and more engaging warm leads, building relationships and facilitating a smooth onboarding process.
Securing new connections for Beaming, the business ISP
- This integrated PR and content marketing approach is used successfully by Beaming to drive brand awareness, web traffic and sales
- Market insight, thought leadership and rich video content is used to engage Beaming’s target audience though traditional, online and social media
- Additional information in posted to Beaming’s website, where visitors can access in-depth reports and exclusive information in exchange for an email address
- Beaming has appeared in target media at least 200 times so far and its messages have reached more than 25 million people. It is now featured on the first page of Google’s natural-search ranking for its desired keywords
- The campaign has trebled the number of new visitors to Beaming.co.uk, doubled the rate of repeat visits and attracted hundreds of new newsletter subscribers
- It has also helped Beaming win business that would otherwise have gone to generalist providers
Surface Generation, a provider of advanced processing technologies
- Surface Generation, a provider of advanced processing technologies, has also adopted an integrated approach to its PR and content marketing campaigning
- Stories highlighting endorsement and adoption of its technologies are shared regularly in trade media and influential industry forums on social media
- The campaign has positioned Surface Generation positively with millions of people via specialist trade media and encouraged thousands to interact with it online
- It has established the firm as a compelling alternative to traditional processes, attracted direct enquiries from several new customers and helped establish relationships with some of the world’s biggest brands
- It also delivered greater confidence amongst Surface Generation’s active investor shareholders and helped secure £3 million in new funding to accelerate its plans