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 there...in 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!