You know who I am. Even if you don’t read half of what I send you, you probably recognize my name. Either I’m the person who sends you great advice on how to engage the media, or I’m the nudge who keeps emailing you stuff every week.
Either way, you know who I am and what I do. Now, can you say the same for your potential customers? When you go to industry gatherings, do people you’ve never met walk up to you and say, “Hey, I really like what you do”? If you’re an author, are you known for being an expert on your book’s topic?
That phenomenon-the sensibility that people you’ve never met know who you are and what you do-is the soul of public relations and the primary element of PR’s return on investment.
The hard truth is that PR delivers exposure and awareness, and based on a wide variety of variables, may or may not result in sales in and of itself. However, one thing that is a constant in that equation is that if you don’t have some level of exposure or awareness, you won’t sell anything at all, no matter what.
So how do you get that awareness? How can you get people to know who you are and what you do? Well, you can always have a creative meltdown, like the flight attendant who flamed out on a flight, grabbed a beer from the galley and made a dramatic exit down the plane’s inflatable emergency slide. But, there are legal ramifications to that. Sure, you’ll be mentioned on Leno, but not as a guest, rather as a punch line to a joke. So, maybe you don’t want to do that. Just saying…
But you DO know me, so if you want some tips, take a look at some of the things that I do:
- Write:If you’re an expert in your field or profession, then write about that expertise. Give people the benefit of your knowledge. And, don’t just write a column or a newsletter; go for the whole enchilada and write a book! Books today are being used less and less as a revenue source, but rather as an extended business card. A book is a great way of introducing yourself to potential new clients or customers. After all, it’s one thing to say you’re an expert in your field, but it’s something else to literally say you wrote the book on your profession.
- Communicate:Use PR early and often. Use the book as a way of introducing yourself to your customer base and the media. The book provides you a hook, an anchor that is respected by both audiences. Using PR in multiple mediums-print, online, TV and radio-puts you and your message in front of all your potential customers in a way that they consume daily, the news.
- Network:I use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online communication tools to network with my potential clients, and frankly, it works! My expertise and message are constantly being exposed to an audience who could all one day be clients of my firm. If I use it reliably to fuel a business I’ve been running successfully for 20 years-a business that has actually experienced double digit increases in revenues even during a recession-then you can too.
I’ll be candid. I get the question all day long, “What is your return on investment on public relations?” I’m a business person, so I understand the concept of client pays X and then recoups cost of service by selling Y, but that’s an advertising paradigm and it only works when certain constants are in place (reliable distribution, high quality product or service, good third-party verification, strong consumer reviews, etc). But before you get to any of those places, you need to start at square one: exposure and awareness. Without those elements that PR is uniquely suited to deliver, it’s more difficult to get to all the other elements of marketing that drive your revenue picture. That’s what makes PR a solid investment, because it bolsters the return on your overall investment in marketing by making people aware of who you are and what you do.