PR, the most intangible value purchase you’ll make.
A lot of business owners have their mind focused on the sell. I get it. They want to sell more stuff. They want make more profit. They want to grow financially. They want results. They want them fast. And so they turn to PR. With good reason I might add. Every business needs an excellent, strategic and thoughtful PR function. That’s undeniable for future proofing and optimising a business.
But there’s a wrestle with this ‘business owner wants to sell more stuff so they turn to PR’ scenario. And here’s why…
PR is not a sales function. And PR is an infinite game. It is not fast. It is slow. And your approach to PR should be sustainable and with a long game in mind.
PR is the cheapest value-investment you’ll make over time, a long time. PR helps to eliminate selling. Customers don’t like being sold to (marketing). They’d prefer to discover something (PR). Any effort to get customers to buy something is marketing. Any effort to keep customers (and your business) is PR.
PR is the on-going effort to improve people’s lives through the sharing of stories that connect and create communities.
PR will grow sales over time, no doubt. But it’s almost impossible to attribute PR directly to sales. There are ways, but they’re expensive to implement and they’re not entirely accurate. You can’t put a dollar figure on changing someone’s opinion or influencing perception and eventual behaviour. Plus there’s a heap of things outside of PR control that will influence a sale or not (product, price, place, service experience, competitors, previous PR or lack thereof etc.) PR results take time, years and sometimes decades to come to life. Not many PR people will tell you that, but it’s true.
Case in point, I bought a pair of leggings in 2014 made of plastic bottles. Naturally, I was intrigued. And I liked their imagery and language. Right there, just in my first interaction there is good PR strategy. (imagery, language, stunt, story, purpose, function)
So my pair of leggings made out of 36 recycled plastic bottles arrived. I loved them, they felt good to wear and I felt good having bought them having reduced landfill, even on a micro scale.
But I didn’t circle back to buy my second pair until 2018. That is what you call a very long product purchase cycle. Between 2018 and 2020 I circled back and bought many more and several pairs for gifts for friends, I also talked about them on social media (many times).
I followed and engaged with their story on social media. I loved their approach to inclusive campaign fashion imagery, compelling copy, ethos…all of the things. So much so, that every PR workshop I presented between 2014 and 2020 I used them as an example of great PR and social media marketing. I took the story on as my own and I became an unofficial roving ambassador for the brand.
But they I don’t even know I exist. They’re in the US. And I’m just me in Melbourne. And there’s no way of tracking how many sales I’ve personally contributed to by sharing my experience with friends and co’ about a brand I love and support. Zilch, zippo. nada, nothing. There is no way to track that result, other than by me anecdotally. And that doesn’t capture a tonne of potential awareness via word-of-mouth-PR.
The result of all their great PR (good product, clearly shared values, meaningful language, consistent words and images with a cause greater than themselves and a product that delights); is awareness and talk ability over time and eventual sales.
PR isn’t tangible. The results are hard to explain and harder to track. Especially to business owners who are focused on analytics, ROI, sales…the bottom-line. They have to be I get it. But without great PR a business has limited chance of staying in the hearts and minds of the people who need what they’ve got most.
The result of PR is a brand. A brand is not a logo. A brand is a gut feeling, it’s emotion, it’s experience, it’s memory, it’s word-of-mouth, it’s reputation. It’s the difference between long term success and not.
Without PR, you don’t have clarity of messaging, you don’t optimise engagement, you don’t empower others to share your story because your story to others isn’t clear. Without PR, you don’t have a brand. Without a brand you wont be remembered.
PR gives businesses the language they need to share their story that their ideal customer can take on as their own and share on their behalf. PR is not what you say about yourself. It’s what others say about you.
So it’s always best when it comes to PR strategy, to consider the stories you’re sharing, what’s the value you’re giving, what are the greater causes you stand for? If someone buys your product or service, what does that say about them?
No one wants to buy more stuff from someone who wants to just sell more stuff. People want to buy from brands they believe in and that they can take on as their own, as part of their own identity because they believe what you believe. Customers want more than product features, product benefits, emotion and experience. They want all of that as well as good values and a greater cause.
What’s your greater cause?
The active wear brand I buy from says a lot about me. It says, I like buying consciously. I like buying from brands who consider where that product ends up. I like contributing to conservation. I like to shop with a brand that represents diversity – all shapes, sizes, stories and backgrounds. And I like being active and healthy and comfortable in clothes. I also like high quality products that last – buy well, buy once (or infrequently). They’re not just a pair of leggings. They’re a pair of leggings with passion, purpose and excellent PRability.
That brand’s story becomes my story. And the only reason I know it to tell is because of their approach to PR. But it was and continues to be a LONG purchase cycle. And there is no way to measure it.
Here’s how PR helps…It creates repeatable stories about your business. So that you can spend less on marketing in the long-run. Put your measuring tools away people.
Words by Jade Roberts
raraPR Founder and Creative Director
raraPR is above all the sum of people who together help build brands and share stories. We are present in our determination to make a positive difference to the world by representing individuals and businesses that are doing good. We are an extension of the personal stories within us, those that we exist for and those within you that need to be heard.