Every business needs sales leads to survive and many of them turn to public relations as a way to help fill the sales pipeline. However, for many sales teams, there is often a great deal of misunderstanding about how PR actually works.
Sales teams expect PR to be a lead-generating tap that produces instant customers, which it can be – when it’s done right. But what they don’t understand is that good PR takes time to bring in results. You need a strategy for how you will reach your target audience, a good story to tell, good writers, and, perhaps most importantly, key performance metrics that allow you to assess the results of a PR campaign and generate leads. Only then can you begin converting those leads into loyal customers. It’s a long process that companies need to work on continuously to keep the lead tap flowing.
Understanding how that process works is just as important for sales teams as it is for PR teams. Key to that process is the tools and techniques that PR teams use for generating and tracking leads, many of which have gone through revolutionary changes in the last few years as PR adapts to the digital age.
PR Tools To Boost Your Next Campaign
When you hear the words PR tool, understand that it means any software, tech, or app that can be used to make your PR campaigns run faster, better, and stronger. PR tech has led to significant changes in how PR campaigns are planned and operated. This is something we’ve seen for ourselves at Intelligent Relations, where tech is a cornerstone for how we do business.
That said, many PR teams are still operating with legacy systems and outdated techniques. Jump-starting your next PR campaign will require adopting the latest in PR tech, many of which can have an outsized impact on your lead-generation results.
- Al Text Generation – One of the most exciting new developments in the field of PR is the use of AI text-generation tools. These software programs are pretty new, but the entire industry is feeling their impact. Capable of churning out basic email introductions and pitch documents with the click of a button, AI text generation has the potential to dramatically reduce the time it takes to create a pitch document and send it out to interested journalists and publications. One of the most recent and advanced versions of this tech is GPT3, which can create highly readable copy with just a few basic writing prompts. However, I should note that while this tech can easily create highly readable short-form copy, it runs into problems with long-form copy. The text becomes meandering and vague, especially when it comes to highly technical writing prompts. This means that PR campaigns will still require a dedicated team of writing staff, but AI can at least aid in streamlining their tasks, allowing them to generate more pitches in less time.
- Big Data Analytics – Following on the heels of AI is big data analytics. Already in use in a diverse range of business sectors, big data analytics allows companies to gather and analyze enormous volumes of data on customer preferences, buying decisions, market trends, and countless other metrics that managers can use to make more informed decisions. From a PR perspective, big data analytics can allow PR teams to determine who their target audience is, what the interests of those audience members are, and which stories are likely to get the most media attention. This opens the doors to highly in-depth strategic planning for PR campaigns with predictive results. While the use of big data analytics has already taken off in industries ranging from manufacturing to financial services to medical care, PR pros have only just begun to recognize the potential. The teams that are faster to embrace the possibilities of a data-driven approach to PR will reap the rewards both now and in the future as PR professionals discover even more use cases.
- Communication Platforms – No PR campaign can get off the ground if it doesn’t have effective communication channels among all the principal players. While it’s hard to get exact numbers, it appears that a large portion of marketers still use email as their primary form of communication. This is despite the fact that instant real-time communication platforms have been a thing for several years now. When PR teams are planning a modern tech-driven approach to a campaign, the effectiveness of the communication among the various team members, salespeople, and high-level executives will be crucial to success. With that in mind, companies should implement a real-time communication platform that will allow for cross-channel communication among the writing staff, editors, strategy planners, and every other type of PR professional. Slack and Microsoft Teams are two such communication platforms that are widely used across many businesses. Combining a communication tool like Slack with a CRM platform will make things easier for sales teams when it comes time to convert leads into customers.
- Tracking Results And Converting Leads – Once you have a PR campaign up and rolling, the next steps will be to track the results of the campaign, the leads that it generates, and the effectiveness of your sales team at turning those leads into customers. A top priority for this stage will be performance metrics: how effective was your PR campaign in creating more brand awareness and reaching new customers? Answering this will mean tracking things such as media mentions, social media engagement, public sentiment towards your company, website visits, and your share-of-voice (SoV) in the media landscape compared to that of your competitors. There are dozens of metrics that you can track but only a few of them will have any real value, so ensure that your PR team chooses the right ones for you. Over time, by analyzing and measuring different metrics, you can learn more about your target customers and adapt your marketing efforts to get more of them through the sales pipeline faster. So much of lead conversion requires an understanding of what the customer’s needs and motivations are. The data you gather from your PR campaigns will allow you to pin down more easily how you can turn potential customers into actual customers.
Lead generation is not an easy process, but it’s absolutely necessary for any business to survive. At times, it can feel a bit like panning for gold. Sticking to that analogy, you could think of PR as a tool that both brings the gold to you and also shows you how to catch it. But that can only happen by understanding that PR takes time to generate results.
Utilizing the latest PR tech tools will save you some time and take a great deal of the guesswork out of your strategy planning, but ultimately you will still need a measure of patience before the sales start to trickle in. That’s just how the game works.