Leveraging Publicity: the Other Half of the Public Relations Equation

In June, I put together a document summarizing my company’s public relations efforts during the first half of the year. I highlighted the quantity and quality of the publicity we received and how we had directly turned some of that publicity into increased revenue. Our public relations efforts had been gaining steam; I forecasted a big second half of the year in terms of press coverage. And then July came.

Not only was July the worst month for public relations at my company that year, it was the worst month for public relations at the company in almost two years. A public relations drought had descended,Ā  and I was at a loss to explain it. I was doubly concerned knowing that August has traditionally been a bad PR month for us, mostly because the stock market slows to a crawl and so many people go on vacation. Surprisingly, August brought rain, and boy, did it ever pour.

In August, we set a record for public relations success in almost every medium. Television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and even blogs proved to be fertile ground for publicity. Whereas about 25 percent of my time each day was traditionally spent on public relations, in August I spent about 50 percent of my time on PR duties.

All of that publicity was great, but its real importance came when we then put it to work to increase exposure and revenue. Public relations rarely offers any “magic bullets,” but it can be an excellent weapon in a company’s arsenal. Tactically, public relations needs to be deployed when the organization is ready to reap its benefits. In our case, this recent public relations bonanza could not have come at a better time.

For starters, our sales pipeline was stuffed. Like many companies, it takes a while to sell our product. High price points and busy potential customers create a long sales cycle. This means that our sales force must remain in contact with existing leads while pursuing new leads.

In August, we discovered one great way to stay in touch with our sales leads was to show off all the publicity we’ve been getting. We did this by putting together a simple series of emails highlighting the publicity we’ve received, but we also added commentary that did not make into articles or interviews, as well as hyped product improvements. A number of seemingly dead sales leads suddenly turned hot again.

We’ve also used the recent spurt of publicity to build stronger relationships with certain partners. Our public relations efforts are important because our partners are, for the most part, much larger companies. As such, we need to remind them constantly of our credibility and why they need us as partners as much as vice versa. After the partner received a friendly note about our spate of good publicity, the company reignited talks with us.

Internally, the public relations successes of August proved to be a good motivator, and not just for the sales force. I’ve been sending off notes to our technical and data integrity teams reminding them of our rising profile and the imperative to continually improve product. I also remind them that the only reason we’re having so much public relations success is because of their hard work.

Publicity has also helped in our search for new employees, most of whom take have taken a few minutes to Google us before submitting their resumes. The press coverage not only makes us more attractive to job-seekers; it also gives us some leverage in the process because it shows that our profile and business are growing.

Going out and getting publicity is great, but if you don’t put that ink to use, what good is it? Organizations need to leverage their public relations successes by using them as everything from sales tools to internal morale boosters. Otherwise, you’re just wasting publicity and time.

This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.

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