PR should embrace the fact that it's often the most effective sales tool

I agree with Joel Don's letter in your November 21 issue: PR must address its unwillingness (not inability) to overcome challenges related to measurement. However, Don seems to forget a basic tenet of commerce - to drive business results.

I agree with Joel Don's letter in your November 21 issue: PR must address its unwillingness (not inability) to overcome challenges related to measurement. However, Don seems to forget a basic tenet of commerce - to drive business results.

In Delahaye's experience as a research-based PR consulting firm, we find that PR consistently contributes meaningful business results through sales generation.

Our experience in dozens of cases confirms that PR in the form of media relations has proven its ability to drive a better ROI than any other form of marketing. For instance, one dollar invested in mass-market TV advertising might yield about $1.25. Price promotions might return only $.75 (a loss of $.25). But one dollar invested in PR will return an average of about $6. The source of these figures is a new form of marketing science called "marketing mix modeling," which is a statistical analysis which compares marketing activities and sales data.

To remove PR from the sales equation is to deny our unique ability to deliver results that other marketers envy. Certainly, PR is more than media relations and more than a marketing tool, but when used as such, PR is a powerful sales driver.

Rather than avoiding the "undesirable flip side...of ever-increasing monthly and quarterly quotas for PR deliverables," as Don suggests, I argue that such quotas should be embraced and that any performance-versus-quota equations be applied equally to all forms of marketing.

Don's letter ran concurrently with the passing of Peter Drucker, the business guru who said, "The business enterprise has two - and only two - basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs."

If PR is to achieve primacy within the marketing mix, we must assert our ability to contribute to the overall business objectives of our clients.

I contend that until the industry consistently demonstrates its ability to drive business results, we will do nothing to alter the stereotype of PR as the "three Cs" Don mentioned (conferences, columns, and cocktail parties). And should we remain unwilling to make the business case for PR, be ready to answer to a "fourth C," which is that of PR as an inconsequential "cost."

PR pros who enjoy the benefits of PR research begin by embracing the process fully: they relish their victories that can be validated. They also understand that shortfalls are a natural result of the process. So, if our hearts and minds are in the right place, why can't we break free here and now? Here are some keys to doing that:

Become acquainted with the science of PR;
Take charge, don't wait;
Embrace the challenge;
Act now while others commit to beginning tomorrow

What I propose has nothing to do with a reckless disregard for the consequences. Rather, it is a matter of becoming the master of your destiny, being aware, intelligent, and truly professional.

Mark Weiner
President
Delahaye

Clarification

In our November 21 Technique, "Media distribution, the healthy way," we ran an image of a multimedia news release from Kryphon, but omitted to note that MultiVu produced the MNR.

In our November 28 profile of Carol Cone, a quote - "In [this] transparent world, brands need to live their values, demonstrate their humanity, and develop trust with their core stakeholders" - was incorrectly attributed to Jens Bang, current president and CEO of Cone, and not Cone herself. We regret the error.

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