With business suffering from the effects of South Africa’s unstable economy, decision makers are looking closely at the measurable return on investment shown by their public relations (PR) efforts. As a result, lead generation has become the catchphrase for business-to-business (B2B) companies looking to see more bang for their budget buck.
One of the biggest challenges facing the PR industry is the ability to show tangible results beyond the traditional AVE. The ability to track and link PR efforts to the bottom line of an organisation as a result has seen a move to hard commercial metrics such as website traffic, leads and downloads. Through greater use of digital and good relationships with media this is starting to change and PR is fast becoming a key strategic factor in the quest for quality leads.
When done well, PR with integrated digital elements is able to assist with driving potential leads to one’s website. With the right implementation/tracking mechanisms, PR content and placement can be measurable and most companies are able to digitally track the path of customers who fill out a ‘contact us’ form on their website, through analytics.
A PR company that understands the role of digital tools, can work closely with their clients’ marketing departments to set up mechanisms for the sales team to track lead sources, eliminating to some degree, the need to ask prospective customers, how they heard about them.
The pitfall however, is that companies need to realise that PR is not something that they can simply switch on when times are tough and clients are few, sending out a press release or thought leadership with the hope that this will drive prospective clients to their website and ultimately to contact their company. Instead, this is something that can only be successfully achieved through consistent effort over a period of time.
Reputation has become increasingly important in today’s social network-driven society, as one can clearly see in the business-to-consumer (B2C) market and with purchase behaviour. Consumers will first read reviews and see what is being said about a product or service before making the decision to purchase.
The B2B world is no different, except that instead of reviews, potential leads will be looking at client testimonials and case studies, and possibly third party endorsements or media coverage, How often would one do a Google search when considering the purchase of a new product or service? This is where a company can stand out above their competitors. Word of mouth and recommendations have a great impact and business decision makers are more likely to entrust their budgets to reputable companies who are able to demonstrate a solid track record.
We believe that consistent, quality, targeted and valuable exposure ensures that clients are top of mind with their prospective customers by ensuring greater visibility and consistent brand exposure. The use of brand elevation campaigns and by positioning executives as thought leaders, means they are able to create that oh-so-important credibility and healthy brand reputation that allows companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Companies need to ensure that they are ahead of the pack and remain so when it comes to winning new business, make use of tools to track lead generation and continuously evaluate the impact that PR has on their bottom line.
Do you know what impact your PR efforts have on your company’s business strategy and goals?