Seeing red: Don't pass the buck to PR professionals, we are not salespeople

I find it extraordinary that public relations is an industry many struggle to understand and define, especially when it comes to our role with sales.

Our job is to raise awareness but this doesn’t guarantee financial rewards. Selling involves direct contact with potential and existing customers, where the focus is to bluntly offer the product. We do not make these transactions.

It is important to clarify that PR is not sales – yes, we influence decision-making and create high-impact messaging but we are there as a support and extension of the sales teams. PRs should not be expected, or worse, asked, to do telesales.

Our craft lies in providing introductions to the market and engaging through various channels aimed at a targeted demographic. This simple coverage will give your brand exposure, credibility and legitimacy, but that doesn’t necessarily promise sales. We will work with sales teams and contribute to ideas for exposure, but to see sales as the only ROI of PR is naive.

That said, the lines are now blurred, but roles and responsibilities need to be clearly defined from the start. Obviously, PR and sales should work together and your marketing and sales performance will improve if your company is viewed in a positive light.

Clearly, for a client with products, their most logical method of measurement is short-term sales revenue. If low, the blame can shift to the PR agency (as opposed to an in-house sales team). But this is both unjustified and completely unproductive.

PR agencies are an outsourced cost, and it is often easier for clients to pass the buck than address problems with employees. It is therefore key that our industry finds better measurement methods and communicates them more effectively to clients and stakeholders.

Andrew White is MD of Triggerfish Communications

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