An intelligent, media-minded PR team will boost your business profile and extend its influence within the market. But does your PR and marketing drive leads?
Building a reputation can be an extremely powerful new business development tool, helping you curry favour in the market. However, while that long-term increase in recognition is clear, what’s not quite so obvious is the impact that this work can have on the business development pipeline of today. In short, will it drive leads?
Here’s the painful truth. For a long time, the sorts of character traits that have made a great PR executive have not been the same character traits that drive new business leads.
The two have always been close – but, in reality, it’s only really over the past three to five years that the worlds of business development and public relations have started to become intertwined.
Why? Well, personally speaking, I think this is happening for a multitude of reasons. In essence though, it’s because, as the public relations industry has evolved – especially within business to business – it has followed wider media and macro-economic trends. This has resulted in an increasing shift in focus from offline to online media platforms, a sharper sector focus, a more open, two-way dialogue with target audiences, and, ultimately, a faster route to market.
The importance of advocacy
All of this means that, when the messaging is right, a start-up business of today can quickly become a thought leader of tomorrow – and, in doing so, can quickly develop and build a credible community and advocate base.
And that ability to develop a community of followers, can, if handled correctly, be far more powerful than you think. Because, if the positioning is correct, what you’re really building here is not just a community, but rather a pre-qualified prospective customer base – or army – forming up behind a common cause.
An army of ambassadors
Here’s where it gets interesting, because, much like the armies of the past, these loyal communities only stay loyal if you take the time look after them. That means giving them what they want, yes, but, perhaps more importantly, enabling them to signal to you when they want (and need) to take action.
And that’s where all of this links back to lead generation. Business development managers, fully understand the importance of creating this loyal following. They know and appreciate how difficult it can be to develop and build out a sales funnel. They understand the challenges of educating a prospective customer base. And, more important still, they know just how difficult it can be to create that constant drip-drip-drip of quality leads into the top of the funnel, to drive new business.
This, then, is where an effective PR campaign enters the fray. The PR executive of today should also recognise and understand all of this. They should be comfortable with that increasingly clear connection between quality content and impartial editorial endorsement and, crucially, they need to be able to use these two levers to drive direct business interest in your company, product and service offering.
Making this work in practice
To give a clear example of how this connection can be made, it’s perhaps easiest to outline a recent example. Working closely with the team’s Head of Business Development, we’ve developed and built out a regular programme of industry reports that showcase the company’s industry understanding and the depth of its market intelligence.
These reports, published quarterly over the past three years, have enabled the company to dominate the media agenda and spark valuable conversations with customers and prospects. However, perhaps more important still, by restricting access to the reports – and by creating a fear of missing out in the wider industry that incentivizes prospective customers to visit the website and share their contact details, we’ve enabled a PR and content marketing campaign to drive new leads. Something that, from a business development perspective, is a particularly compelling concept.
No surprise, then, that we’re seeing increasingly close interaction between business development teams and the humble PR, right?