Public Relations -- from Cost Center to Profit Center

Sadly, many executives continue to view the PR function as a cost center. While it’s the job of strong-willed PR pros to shift that mindset, in many cases the problem remains one of our own doing.

We’ve created the notion among leaders that PR is 50 percent writing and distributing news releases and 50 percent crisis management. In their minds, we’re most useful when we’re grabbing positive headlines or keeping the lid on an issue. And while we can toss around words like reputation and brand management, those in the C-suite stopped listening at “PR strategy.”

To further the misconception, we serve up reach, impression and ad equivalency data. It’s time to put on our big boy and girl pants and reframe the PR story with a focus on sales revenue.

Since the maturation of social media platforms for business, the PR industry has been staring an obvious answer right in the face. The ability to create and own digital content, and measure its effectiveness in driving leads that convert to sales, is a tool within our grasp. Through content strategy and execution, we can change PR from cost center to revenue driver.

Here are five steps you can take to start making the shift at your organization:

  1. Create and publish content to enhance awareness.

  2. Use social media to solidify thought leadership.

  3. Engage with influencers to develop third party support and testimonials.

  4. Use calls to action to drive leads and new revenue.

  5. Measure and report leads, conversions and sales related to content strategy.

In a nutshell, it works like this:

Step One: Ghost write a short article on your company’s product or service and a pitch it to a third-party influencer.

Step Two: The article is published online, complete with links to additional information you’ve developed and posted to a landing page on your corporate website.

Step Three: Create and post the article to your corporate social media accounts with a URL linking back to your landing page.

Step Four: Working with the marketing team, track the links coming from the article and identify how each reader reacts to the landing page call to action (case study or white paper download, request for a demo, newsletter signups, for example).

Step Five: Measure the leads, the requests and, ultimately, the conversion to sales.

As you can see, by enhancing your approach to content you’re able to drive audience interest, interest becomes traffic, traffic creates leads, leads enter the sales funnel and that converts to revenue. Presto!

A recent survey of executives revealed that 63% already believe social media helps with reputation and branding. With this in mind, you’re more than halfway there. Simply adjust your content strategy efforts and you can change how executives view PR.

It’s up to us to create this new reality. Consider how your day-to-day work with content strategy and creation will result in reaching customers, developing new leads and driving revenue to meet business goals.

Make Time for Content Creation

 Photo by UfukSaracoglu/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by UfukSaracoglu/iStock / Getty Images

As good fortune would have it, my daughter is also a communicator. Officially, she’s a marketing project manager at a med-tech company in Minneapolis. At lunch, we chatted about some of the challenges she faces each day in her job.

One frustration she shared is something I hear frequently from communicators on the corporate side: "The content demands from the sales team is insatiable. We've become an assembly line in place to produce leads and no time is left to create content that nurtures new and existing customers."

The Problem:

  • The sales team asks for new leads.

  • Marketers create webinars, events and other engagement opportunities designed to generate leads.

  • Leads roll into the funnel.

  • The marketing team moves on to its next project or endeavor.

  • Days later, sales reps ask for more leads.

This isn't a new reality for any sales and marketing function. What stuns me as a content creator is the inability for organizations to fix the revolving door issue.

The Solution:

  • Marketers and communicators need to spend the vast majority of their time creating strategic content that engages with key audiences. This might be a case study, a white paper, an e-book, or social media content that supports thought leadership. If the team isn't strategizing and developing content that connects with clients or potential clients, leads dry up fast.

  • The sales and marketing teams must talk! What a sales rep thinks he or she needs and what a marketing comms expert can offer should align from the start. If the two functions don't speak regularly with each other, nothing fruitful will result.

  • Think big. Create meaningful assets. Leverage those assets. To. The. Hilt! The best marketing initiative starts with a big, bold idea - a client event, a webinar or other engagement designed to generate buzz about the company. Once done, don't move on to the next task. Milk each big idea until the well runs dry. Turn that big initiative into digital content - surveys, research reports, an e-book, a blog post, customer feedback soundbites. The list is endless. Be creative. Then generate social media content that keeps that buzz going and engages with existing and new audiences.

Marketing teams must make the most of the big ideas they're asked to generate, not create lots of useless content. Sales teams must work the leads and sell, of course. But first, the two functions have to communicate - get on the same page and understand the course of action that will keep leads flowing into that sales funnel.

Want to learn more? I wrote this article on content creation with a purpose recently. Check it out!

Three Books About PR and Communications to Read This Summer

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Three Books About PR and Communications to Read This Summer

I get it. Summer reading lists should be fun – packed with spy thrillers or the latest science fiction best seller. I’m usually reading something from Stephen King to keep me awake on hot summer nights.

But in my PR and communication consulting life, I’ve learned how important it is to read a few works from the great minds of those who pour their blood, sweat and tears into creating a solid book about this industry. And, you know the old adage: read three books on a specific topic and you’ll know more than 70 percent of your peers. At least I think that’s the old adage.

Here are three recent finds that any communication pro should add to their summer reading list:

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Content Creation with a Purpose

Content Creation with a Purpose

If your organization is pushing out content on social media without a strategy to support the content you create each day, it's time to put a full stop on your copywriting and content initiative. Those Tweets, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook posts, as well as your email marketing initiative, e-newsletter and weekly blog, may have turned off your customers and reduced your revenue opportunities.

Managing Your Personal Brand

Rex Tillerson, former Exxon executive who served as Secretary of State for 14 months, has a problem with his brand. Since getting fired by the President on March 13, 2018, Tillerson finds himself untethered from his duties as top diplomat and looking back (longingly?) on a 40-plus year career with Exxon.

How Great Are Your PowerPoint Slides...Really?

We've all survived a PowerPoint presentation disaster. It's painful, right? Sometimes the speaker is the problem. He or she stumbles through slide content reading it word for word with no context. But most of the time the information shared in the presentation fails to get the job done because the author of the content focused on the words and not the design of each slide.

Five Ways to Improve Employee Communication

Work life is simply better when employees and work groups get truly engaged in their roles.

But employees, ranging from Gen Z to baby boomers, receive communication in different ways, so organizations must use a variety communication techniques to reach them efficiently and effectively. Consider these strategies to engage with, communicate and keep the workforce engaged and motivated.