Public Relations is a cool sounding word that has a better connotation than advertising and marketing. Since it deals with communicating with the public and so does marketing and advertising, many seem to lump it in the same category. That is a mistake that makes many avoid their most powerful tool for lack of understanding.
One of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to PR is, “What will my return on investment (ROI) be?” While I can understand why this is almost always asked, after all, you are making a monetary investment and in business you always make a decision on what will it gain you. However, to see sales as the ONLY metric for a marketing effort (and I only use the word “marketing” because it is how most people think of PR) is very short sighted and detrimental.
Have you ever been in a meeting, pitching a company on your product or service, and there were competitors in the room doing the same thing? The company has never heard of you and you’re there because someone opened the door. They hear your pitch and your competitor’s.
Your competitor has been in the news recently, quoted as an expert in his topic, and so the decision maker has a higher peace of mind with his pitch, because the competition has credibility and trust, in his mind. Why? He’s never met this person before. He didn’t call this person because of the article; your competitor simply made sure that the decision maker was aware of the interview. It’s time to make a decision.
While price is usually a key deciding factor, perceived value has a higher price! Since your competitor has some bona fides, due to the PR hit he got in the newspaper, he wins the battle and gets the business.
Now let me ask you these questions. What price would you have put on winning that deal? What price would you have put on the possibility that by winning that deal, other doors may have opened (from referrals, from the testimonial garnered, from putting this client on your list of successes)? Whatever that amount is, THAT is your ROI for your PR!
Imagine that the roles were reversed. You were the one with the PR campaign and your competitor was not.
So when you are thinking whether or not you should engage in PR, keep in mind that PR is about building credibility, earning trust and accruing the capital that being in the media brings. While PR does not MAKE sales, the lack of PR can sure kill them.