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Sales? PR doesn’t do Sales or Marketing


Sales.  It’s about as far away from PR as you can be, and still, be in business.  But maybe not for long.

PR pros should not develop campaigns to drive sales. PR should not use calls-to-action.  PR should not be measured by leads.  Most importantly, PR should not be measured by sales.  That’s marketing.

PR is better served by measuring awareness.  In fact, “an ideal PR objective specifies desired outcomes within target publics, such as increased knowledge and/or awareness, or changed opinions, attitudes, and behavior.”

Believe it or not, there are those that call themselves PR pros in these modern times, who espouse such nonsense.  The irony is that PR can succeed in building awareness, and the business can still fall short – the same way a company can book sales one month and go bankrupt the next for lack of cash flow.

If you’ve made people aware of your company’s product, well, hey, your job is done.  It’s marketing’s fault they didn’t capture the lead.  It’s sale’s fault they didn’t close the deal. It’s customer service’s fault they didn’t retain the customer.

Point fingers.  Deny the overlap. Oppose the cross-talk.  Avoid integration, cooperation or collaboration. After all, a narrow and focused view is the best way to meet the broadest of goals.

The net effect of this misguided view rests in overhead, excessive cost and worse, a lost opportunity.  It’s siloed thinking.  Marketing stays on their side of the room, PR stays in their corner – nobody crosses the line.  Nobody.

PR marketing and sales alignment-600x

This may have worked in the past.  PR fielded media calls, stamped out press releases and maybe wrote a speech or two.  Marketing worked on slogans, direct mail and advertising campaigns.

Sure, integration between the two disciplines could have improved results, but campaigns surely didn’t fail for lack of streamline; they had different goals.

Then something changed:  the world went digital – which meant new rules for marketing and PR.  Word spread faster – now is gone.  It became social – engage or die.  Trust agents became a key to influence.

Content was – and is – like currency bartered for attention on the world’s largest exchange, which in turn is becoming more and more segmented. These dynamics are forcing a tighter link between PR and marketing, and though I’ve argued that generally, marketing looks more like PR, the reality is, it doesn’t matter who made who.

What matters are the results.  It’s giving rise to the notion of, as Deirdre Breakenridge puts it, the hybrid professional.

If traditionalists worry about shattered boundaries, then the hybrid professional is a frightening prospect.

This is because the hybrid professional is more than just the blending of marketing and PR.  It’s the confluence of those and customer service and sales.

This is integration, by force, design or accident.   Sales people are doing a little PR, PR people are doing a little sales and customer service is doing a little marketing.

Perhaps in this decade, we’ll re-engineer the corporation and flatten processes for total quality management of this evolving method of business, let alone communications. But until we do, these functions will enjoy considerable overlap.

The companies that develop well-rounded employees focused on the single overarching goal of sales as the benchmark of success will be best poised to succeed.  Everyone wears a marketing hat.  Every employee wears a sales hat.  And every soul has an obligation to customer service.So if traditional PR wants to build awareness, have at it.

It might have missed Plurk, Freindster, Friendfeed and other social sites that have come and long since gone, but there’s still time to collect impressions, tweets and likes. After all, if the online tribe click “like,” opinions have been swayed in a measurable way.

But maybe not for long.  It is my contention, that PR would be better served by getting comfortable with sales if it wants to be valuable to the business.

An earlier version of this post originally ran on Spin Sucks: Breaking Down the Communication Silos

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1 Response

  1. Trace Cohen

    With the advent of social media, PR professionals can now directly engage with their customers and bypass the media entirely. I see a growing trend of Brand/PR Journalism growing as we start to become the content creators and rely less on media.

    To your point about PR and sales, I sometimes referred to myself as a salesmen without commission. The underlying issue is that we have no way to properly measure our impact because "awareness" is vague and hard to prove to clients. Other times when people ask what I do, I tell people im in the lead gen business and when they ask how I do it, I tell them using PR.

    PR and sales should start going on dates because they are going to be together for a long time.

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