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Does PR Lead to Sales?

by Stephanie Cion on January 11, 2009.

As an entrepreneur and CEO of a small,  growing company - resource allocation is HUGE issue. One question that has come up repeatedly in the past several months when speaking to fellow entrepreneurs - specifically Founders and CEO's of consumer product companies is:

Does PR really produce sales?

Exposure of any kind certainly is a good thing for a young company - but that is really a different thing than actually producing sales.Lets be honest, there is something sexier and more glamorous about PR  than there is about sales. We certainly talk a lot more about PR than we do sales strategies. However, sales are our bred and butter...

Many new entrepreneurs rely on their PR campaigns (DIY or otherwise) to generate sales. I have spoken to many experienced entrepreneurs who put significant time and effort into getting substantial PR placements (think top magazines and shows) only to find it does little, if anything, to increase their sales.  They have learned the painful lesson that simply getting the word out about your product, and creating buzz, doesn't always lead to people buying your product.

That said, not all PR placements are equal. (We all have heard the stories of the power of Oprah) but clearly getting good press isn't going to necessarily lead to selling your product.

A few things to consider/ponder relating to PR campaigns as a sales tool:

What are the objectives of your PR campaign? How do you define your PR campaigns success? Be realistic.  How are you judging success? Seriously, think about this...if you are completely honest with yourself do you define the success of your PR campaign by the number of items you sell? (or is a more realistic measure the number of hits to your site, PR placements you receive in a given period, inquiries from new vendors and/or potential partners etc)

Is Niche press more effective?

Are you trying to overall generate buzz for your product or are you trying to generate targeted buzz. If your PR efforts are targeted to very specific audiences to whom your product may appeal to the most ? (An example for WELLalarm would be a mentioned about our peanut charm or allergy collection in Allergic Living magazine. Obviously, this is a niche audience where 90 percent of the readers would be interested in our products rather than in something like Allure where our allergy products might only resonate with 40% of the readership. ) I really do not know the answer by the way...these are just a bunch of ideas and thoughts I am playing with!

If your product is sold on your website, Does your website help to close the deal? (Meaning, if people become aware of your product and go to your site, will your website help to sell is from this instance it may be helpful to think of PR as a lead generation tool driving customers to the site...but then you need your site to act as a sales person to get your customer to buy the product!)

Clearly, there is a lot to think about beyond just running a effective PR campaign!

Below are some resources I came across in writing this blog post - hope you find them useful!

About the author:

Stephanie Cion

wellalarm inc- CEO and Founder

WELLalarm is a next-generation emergency medical alert system that combines the power of technology with fashion to protect the lives of the millions of people living with allergies and serious conditions. WELLalarm provides easy access to vital medical information when you need it most, during a...

Older Comments

Melissa Cassera said:
posted on on January 12, 2009

Good information - that is the top question I get when it comes to PR services.

I find the biggest issue is that many entrepreneurs rely just on publicity to drive sales, when in fact you need publicity+marketing+sales to see results.

I also like your point about the website - and have seen this happen MANY times. If the goal of the publicity campaign is to drive people to your website to purchase, your website needs to speak to that audience. Ordering should be easy. People should be compelled to buy once they get there.

Another thing I've found is clients tend to get more orders from small, hometown publications and/or blogs that focus on their target audience than the 'bigger outlets.'

Lisa Laverty said:
posted on on January 12, 2009

Great post Stephanie. Thanks for getting the wheels turning this morning!

Angela Jia Kim said:
posted on on January 12, 2009

Great, Stephanie. Tweet.

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