Friday, November 30, 2007

Public Relations and Lead Generation

Public Relations and Lead Generation
By Ned Barnett and Daryl Toor (c) 2007-2008

Public relations can and should be part of an effective lead-generation business-building program that brings qualified potential clients into a company’s sphere of influence – leading, ultimately, to direct negotiations and closed business deals. PR cannot close – but, with proper handling, PR can lay the groundwork for effective closing of important business contracts and sales.

The biggest mistake most companies (and most PR professionals) make when it comes to using PR as a Lead-Gen tool is that they see getting great press coverage as the final step in the process. In fact, it is very nearly the first step. It’s what you do with a clip – to effectively and comprehensively leverage its impact AFTER you get it – that counts. Here are some things that can and should be done to maximize the impact of each PR success:

1. Put each favorable clip – as soon as it comes out – on your website press room.

  • a. Do NOT link to them – the media often “retires” articles after a period of time, whereas their use to you is timeless.
  • b. Best bet: use a screen-capture.
  • c. Second-best: post with a the media’s logo graphic to show where it came from.

2. Send out each clip, via email (with an appropriate cover note and a link back to your website to see the clip), to:

  • a. All of your clients, for referral-development purposes.
  • b. To all of your referral sources and “influencers.”
  • c. To all of your hot prospects.
  • d. To all of your longer-term prospects.
  • e. Through your PR firm or inside counsel, to media (reporters, editors, producers, bookers) who cover you or your market space – with an appropriate note that makes the clip a validater, rather than something that has “used up” the media’s interest.

3. Surface (or Fed-X) copies to priority internal (sales) and external (prospects, clients who need reinforcement or who could become referral sources)

  • a. Send them hard-copy clips (reprints, available from most media outlets, usually at reasonable prices) along with appropriate, personal (and personally-signed) letters
  • b. Or, less formally, with post-it notes and brief hand-written messages attached to the clips.

4. Put the clips in the sales kit.

  • a. If the kit is electronic, provide a link to the clips.
  • b. If the kit is printed, include a reprint of the clips with other sales-promotion and sales-support materials.

5. Quote from the clips in future sales tools and press releases.

6. Once sufficient clips are in hand, create a sales tool (a brochure, for instance, or a web page) that is little more than a string of linked-together quotes from clips, all singing your praises.

There are other, specific uses that can be made of effective PR clips in specific instances – for instance, trade shows permit clips to be turned into creative hand-outs (printed on coffee mugs, for instance, or in some other way made permanent). These solutions here are “generic” and universal in their application – anybody can (and everybody should) use them.