Using PR for customer leads
PR always had the potential to bring customers to the table. Today, great content has become, especially online content, has become an important way for companies to attract customers and build leads.
Jennefer Witter, CEO and founder, The Boreland Group Inc. a boutique public relations agency headquartered in New York City says that as more people use their mobile phones for work and play, customer engagement via PR strategies is focusing greatly on mobile and video.
Says Witter, “According to a report by Cisco, a leading global IT company, video will account for 80% of global Internet traffic by 2019. You can see that already, with the rise of Facebook Live and YouTube, for example. Customer leads will be non-traditional - not as much direct mail as once before. However, you need to have a plan and strategy on how to use video; the message you want to communicate; and the platforms to use that are directed to your customers. Without that planning, you will lose out the effectiveness that video can offer.”
Witter also points out that traditional media still plays a role in creating awareness among customers but warns that it must be done consistently, “You will always get interest when you generate press, whether it's on television, radio, online or print. Media placements helps to break your company from the clutter of competition; it highlights your brand in strong manner. However, customer engagement won't happen overnight, but it will generate customer leads over a period if it is done on a regular basis.”
Taking the discussion forward, Sonali Sokhal, CEO- Intelliquo 9 says that, “The smartest way to do this is to create virality of content. For instance, brands that are chosen by women or mothers would do well to do activations with women's networks, mommy bloggers for example. Similarly, we have noticed a lot of great colour cosmetics or fashion brands remove their celebrity band ambassadors and create diversity campaigns, which allow 'real' customers to reach out and speak across owned and earned platforms of media. In lifestyle PR for instance we are seeing a lot of community led activations, from cycling groups, reading clubs, beauty peers, etc. In each case, these are activities with real people and allow the brand to reach consumers directly.
Sokhal adds that, “Let’s look at PR as the first part of the on-going narrative. It is the first part of crating the storyline on the brand, as well as the outreach plan of the preferred demographic. Thus, we would place it in right in the beginning of the buyer journey. When we look at actual activations then we are in the decision-making process of the journey.”
The 2016 ‘Content Matters’ report, brought out by WE Communications in Delhi and Mumbai, mapped the link between brand storytelling and customer’s decision to buy. The report found that customers are most likely to advocate for mobile brands using WhatsApp over Facebook:
There are strong links, therefore, that can be made about the use of PR led content with buying.
Examples of links between PR and customer leads
Smita Malwe, account manager, Media Mantra cites the example of CAIA Association (Chartered Alternative Investment Analysts Association) working for creating awareness on alternative investment education.
Says Malwe, “ CAIA’s objective was to initiate a discussion on financial education and create awareness on alternative investment in India. The success of the campaign could be measured by the no. of people joining the community and seeking AI education. Through PR initiatives, stories have been generated which created a buzz in the industry about the need of financial education and highlighted the need of organizations who can impart knowledge on this topic. The PR activities resulted in greater number of people joining the CAIA Curriculum and spreading the work among the peer groups.”