The value of PR is often debated.
After all, a good product should sell itself, so why focus on PR when you can pay for marketing that can have an equal,
if not greater, effect on sales?
For starters, marketing can be faulty, especially for business-to-business products. Your campaigns can get pricy, and your ads may not resonate with your customers. If
you supplement your marketing efforts with a PR strategy, you can reap stronger benefits for a lower cost.
The numbers don’t lie. A Nielsen study found that content written by credible experts resulted in a 50 percent higher brand affinity and 38 percent higher purchase intent than branded content. Good PR can increase your
reputation and trustworthiness, and can be even more effective than your paid marketing efforts.
If you’re still not sold, here are a few more ways you can find huge value in PR.
It can save you marketing dollars.
Especially important for small and medium-sized businesses with small budgets, strategic PR can replace some pricier marketing techniques. Instead of paying $1,000 for an
advertisement featuring a “testimonial,” you can simply push your brand and product out to experts who can do the same thing for little to no cost.
It sometimes takes more work, but it’s definitely a more cost effective way of achieving similar results. In either instance, your brand and product are
pushed out to potential, untapped customers. Hopefully, positive associations are being made in their heads.
PR doesn’t require the same amount of market research, either (which saves both time and money). With effective PR, your product or service speaks
for itself. In paid marketing campaigns, you often need to deploy all the tricks to get people to act. And you’ll often see these tricks fail.
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You’ll get genuine, reliable testimonials.
Customers are becoming increasingly savvy about sales pitches nowadays. Around
75 percent of business executives
would like to see fewer sales pitches in content. If you’re not careful, people will notice you’re trying to push a product on them, and they’ll be driven
away from your brand.
This is where PR excels. As we saw in the Nielsen report, people trust third party expert opinions much morethan branded marketing. About 85 percent of people were found to actively seek an expert opinion before purchasing.
With a stellar product and a strong PR strategy, these experts will sing your praises. People understand the difference between sponsored and organic
testimonials. They’re repulsed by the former and inspired by the latter.
And once people start talking about you regularly, you’ll get a powerful reputation that simply can’t be matched by other marketing tactics.
You’ll drown out bad publicity.
You often hear the phrase "All publicity is good publicity." That might be true, but you definitely want to keep a higher ratio of good PR to bad.
Imagine you never initiated any PR efforts. The only attention you get is organic, from disgruntled customers and past employees. This type of news spreads
virally, and can taint your brand. After too much of it, you’ll only see negative consequences, and you’ll never be able to cover it up with traditional
With a strong PR strategy in place, however, you can blanket over anything negative with the positive.
Has Google ever had any negative publicity? Of course. Everyone has. Can you think of anything bad, specifically? Probably not, because much of what you hear about is Google’s positive news.
Alternately, what do you think about when you hear the name Comcast? Exactly.
Why does this matter?
All businesses could benefit from a good PR strategy. In B2B businesses testimonials are very important, and
only the genuine ones really help you.
While PR shouldn’t replace your entire paid marketing strategy, it’s a powerful tool to add to your marketing arsenal. A mix of PR and paid
advertising can achieve amazing results. No marketing plan is complete without either of these strategies.
If you’re able to assert enough authority in your industry, you’re able to grow, acquire more funding, and grow even more. Sure, a strong PR
strategy can take time, but it’ll make or break your efforts to become an industry authority. You’re spending time to save money, and hopefully increase
sales in the long run.
You can’t argue with sales.
Rich Kahn is CEO of online marketing firm eZanga.