It’s safe to say that PR is not well understood as a sales lead generating activity for small businesses. Indeed, PR is usually lumped together with other brand marketing activities like newsletters, billboards and product literature that help solidify a brand in the consumer’s consciousness in hopes of driving future sales.
Yet, for the uninitiated, PR can actually help you drive sales leads even as you grow awareness of your brand in your community or industry. From press releases posted on the Internet to news coverage in local media, your business can experience a measurable spike in website visits, phone calls and foot traffic leading to sustained revenue growth.
While it’s not always easy to track the results of a PR campaign the way it is with Google AdWords, you can still improve your next PR campaign’s ability to drive new revenue and grow your business for years to come by following some of these steps:
- Call-to-Action: a strong call-to-action in your PR campaign will generate clicks, calls and cash register rings. If you write a press release, then embed the call-to-action URL as an “anchor text” in the body and at the end of the release. Be sure to test out a variety of call-to-actions and pick the one that tantalizes the reader’s imagination the most.
- Landing page: make sure you create a unique landing page for your PR campaign to track clicks to the web page and measure the conversion rate. Over time, your ability to convert traffic will improve as you refine your call-to-actions and offers.
- Target relevant media: be sure to go after the media your target prospects are watching, reading or listening to.
- Send email: don’t be shy about sharing your news. Send your latest press release (with a call-to-action) to customers and prospects alike.
- Create your own publicity: a new upscale hair salon decided to hold a benefit for a prominent local charity as part of its Grand Opening celebration rather than just make it about the salon. It generated media buzz and lots of involvement from local moms (the target demographic) because the fundraiser benefited a children’s education foundation.
- Follow trends: don’t miss this easy opportunity to promote your business to local media and win new customers. We’re in the middle of summer so owners of businesses specializing in ice cream, kid-friendly summer activities, or AC repair should be promoting them as the thermostat rises.
- SEO: so much is done online today – from product research to product purchases – that ignoring your search engine rankings is done at your own peril. That’s why you should optimize every press release for key words (or phrases) that refer back to your home page. (Hint: optimize pages deeper into the website in order to get visitors to stay on your website longer.)
- Social media integration: don’t ignore popular social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest. Make sure any media coverage you get is announced on social media and any product launches or visual events are thoroughly photographed, recorded and pinned.
- Blog: if it’s newsworthy, why not blog about it yourself and get others to do the same? Blog sharing is common trick among SEO experts as a way to create more back-links to your website. It’s also a good way to expand your brand awareness into new networks. Just be sure you go after blogs that are in your target demographic – food blogs if you’re seeking attention for your high-end specialty food store.
- Video: with over 4 billion videos viewed daily in 2012, YouTube has become a powerful way to drive awareness of your brand and new revenue for your business. If your business is interviewed on local TV news, link it to your website and invite followers on social media to watch.
Another plus about using PR for generating sales leads for your business? Not a lot of businesses do it! That’s why it pays to be among the 20% who understand how to leverage PR as a valuable lead gen tool.
Still not convinced? Check out one of my other blog posts where I explain how PR is more effective at driving revenue for small business than cold calling.
The key is to take action, and be smart about it. When PR is done right, no other marketing tool on the planet is as effective at motivating prospects to part with their money.