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PR is NOT a lead generation tool

Posted by Debby Penton on 20th November 2014

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Don’t get caught up in last click attribution when trying to measure the impact of PR

In my last blog post I talked about how important PR can be in supporting inbound marketing and driving potential prospects to your website. But beware of viewing PR as a lead generation tool. (And to my fellow PRs don’t ever devalue the work you do by being tempted to sell your work on a cost per acquisition basis.) While digital measurement does give us visibility into the power of PR in building links, driving traffic etc, to boil down the impact of PR to these data points would be the end of our profession.

Just as online retailers are turning their backs on last click attribution (LCA), where the affiliate partner carrying the advert that finally drives a customer through to your site before purchase gets 100% of the reward for the sale, marketers must consider the influence of PR throughout the customer journey. This means that whilst PR driven activity might not result in click-throughs that result in sales, it does not necessarily mean PR is not working or contributing to the sales funnel.

While I don’t wish to return to the days when PR was considered a black art, although it’s hard to measure, do not underestimate the power of having a brand that a prospect recognises, the credibility of happy customers and an active thought leadership voice in persuading people that you are a company worth doing business with as they engage in the sales cycle.

Only the other day a client (for whom we are generating a host of very measureable impacts) sent through a link to this article “The Silent Benefits of PR”, which extols the many softer (or harder to measure) benefits of PR, and it struck a chord. As we strive as a profession to demonstrate the impact of our services in this data obsessed world, we must not lose sight of the bigger picture.

Debby Penton

Motivated, competitive and highly experienced, Debby drives excellence across the agency and leads by example, going the extra mile to create stand-out campaigns and a dynamic agency culture. Debby champions a new breed of PR that meets the evolving communication needs of today’s tech companies.

  • Alexander Perryman

    The issue you face, though, is that less-scrupulous PR agencies will attempt to sell PR in exactly this way. Sadly, sometimes, that’s all the marketing manager wants to hear; a nice, easily-definable leads-metric that they can quanitfy upwards in the language of the board. While lead-gen is an important part of the mix, I agree, it falls short of presenting the whole value-picture.

  • Paul Wooding

    Surely “active thought leadership voice in persuading people that you are a company worth doing business with as they engage in the sales cycle.” is lead generation?

    The trick is understanding and measuring how the thought leadership activity led to the customer making contact rather then PR losing that metric to another part of the sales cycle which also touched that customer but has established more acceptable (not necessarily credible) means of measurement. To boldly say PR is not a lead generation tool is totally wrong. I’ve just spend a week at CES where a press release banged out on newswire drove distributors and potential retail partners to a booth for ad hoc meetings. If a couple of those meetings turn into partnerships that lead to sales (and they will), I will be shouting from the roof tops that PR is a lead generation tool. I’d be mad not too when I’m fighting for budget alongside channel marketing, events etc.

    We must not shy away from linking PR to direct sales or other clearly defined business metrics. I share you concern around pay per lead / payment by results, but PR has changed and if we don’t start making a clear case for the impact PR spend has on the bottom line, we are doomed as an industry.

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