A few weeks ago, I was asked to make a presentation on how PR drives sales. I must admit that it was a herculean task of researching around this and more so, I had the task of presenting to an audience; much of whose job revolved around sales and customer service. I reckon that as I introduced the topic to them, the question which might have been going through their minds was “How does what you do drive sales?”
Well, the truth and fact are that public relations can be one of the most powerful tools to drive or increase sales. This is often contested because the results are often not immediately seen. Some businesses believe or will want to believe that Marketing and Advertising, are what brings in the money. Thus, every year huge amounts are voted into these areas. In such companies, often small, medium or startup in nature, PR becomes the Cinderella – kept in the background and when needed, called upon to serve a purpose or wash and clean a mess. This is where most people or companies get it wrong.
Al Ries, Laura Ries argue in The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR, that public relations is more effective in building a new brand and recommend that any new marketing program must start by generating publicity and then shift to advertising after the public relations objectives have been achieved.
Don’t get it twisted. I believe in the efficacy and relevance of Marketing and Advertising to stimulate sales just as I also believe, PR does the same but in its case, does so gradually by building pathways and establishing leads which evolve into Sales and Return on Investment (ROI). No wonder it is called “earned media” in marketing circles because it takes a lot more effort.
So, the question is how does PR drive sales? In my quest to find out how it does, I realised the following:
Reputation, like trust, is earned. It is a priceless asset that adds to the strategic value of any company. It has a major effect on the sales performance of brands and products.
In today’s digital world, negative comments lives on forever: bad reviews, negative coverage, misinformed comments from a company representative affect not only a company’s image but sales too. Additionally, potential clients will always “google” a company or product before they buy.
In a 2011 global study by Weber Shandwick titled “The company behind the brand: In reputation we trust“, the survey report states, “As consumers around the world have greater online access to a brand’s lineage, the influence of the brand parent, or company behind the brand, matters even more.”….A full 70% of the consumers surveyed in this study reported that they avoid buying a product if they do not like the company behind the product.
Additionally, 56% said they hesitate to buy products if they cannot tell who makes them. On the other hand, a majority of consumers in each of the four markets surveyed (UK, USA, China and Brazil) agreed with the statement “more and more I try to buy products made by a company that does good things for the environment or community.
While a good corporate image will offer an assurance of product quality and service consistency, consumers in recent times also seeking assurance on whether products are ethically sourced, responsibly manufactured and are made by companies which treat their employees fairly.
More than ever, consumers demand that organizations should have social responsibility at the forefront of their actions. PR thus as the discipline which manages reputation can be a powerful tool which could be employed and deployed to enhance credibility in the eyes of your prospects and customers.
Read more about the ways PR helps drive Sales tomorrow.