It amazes me when PR professionals still hedge against their capabilities and the power of PR. Many PR executives will come right out and state: “PR doesn’t produce revenue. PR doesn’t increase sales or leads. PR only builds awareness.”
To start, can someone show me on an income statement where it says, “Build Awareness.” If the only notice on this financial statement is as an expense item, PR is in trouble. Now, just because “awareness” isn’t listed on an income statement doesn’t prove that PR produces revenue. So with that, let’s consider this point by looking at three dimensions.
1. Goal Congruency. Most managers have as a goal to increase revenue. Therefore, it would make sense to have all staffers and consultants working towards that same goal. Do you want to have sales, advertising, and marketing working towards increasing sales and revenue and PR with its own goal? Sorry, that doesn’t fly.
One of the concerns PR executives have is that PR can’t increase product sales if the product being promoted is bad. It’s true, if a company’s product does not light up when the power switch is flicked, no matter how great the PR, the company will have a hard time increasing sales. Well, guess what, if the product stinks everyone (sales, marketing, channel partners) will have trouble selling it as well. That’s not the point. The point is when the product is good and would meet level A in sales that a strong PR program can help propel it to level B in sales. How? Product reviews, buyer’s guides, news releases, new customer releases, awards, case studies, content marketing, social media, and so on. Perhaps, this, in and of itself, doesn’t sell the product, but what one person in the company sells product on their own? Sales needs product development, product development needs sales.
2. Proven Cases. I have worked with numerous clients where our PR was an instrumental driver in helping the company to increase revenue and leads.
These are real dollars. PR can open a door for a meeting or help persuade a sale when the sales team meets with a potential client and is loaded with awards, media coverage, and analyst insights. Leads for IT services can come in from thought leadership articles and speaking engagements. And, PR can help preserve revenue as we saw when a client was about to be bought and had a pending crisis, which we extinguished before it spread.
So, PR is absolutely a driver of revenue from its actions: company sold, initial public offering, venture capital, product sales, services contracted, product line sell off, sales and marketing persuasion tool. Separately, PR helps attract new employees, speaking engagements, and partners. All of these opportunities can also lead to increasing revenue via their output once on board.
3. New Rules of PR. Finally, PR can help produce revenue by building Websites, news releases, content, and blogs that include content rich keywords. This action will push the company up in search rankings. Being on page one can drive leads, but being on page 40 of a Google search, not so much. The same goes for your social media channels….if they’re optimized you might be found from a prospect search.
Creating content and publishing across PR and social media channels can increase clickthroughs to a lead generator or Website, and can help increase awareness, engagement, and trust with a pool of new potential buyers for a sale over a longer period, and strengthen existing customer relations for continuation, up-sell, or cross-sell over the short term.
So, does PR create revenue by its lonesome? Of course not. You need many other working parts to make that happen, and that’s called a corporation. But if you do not have your PR working towards the overarching corporate goal of producing revenue then PR is likely out of sync with the rest of the team. And that means PR is striving for concepts that won’t show up on the income statement, unless you’re counting expense items.