Public relations and lead generation marketing are two completely different approaches to business development —but together, they can attract meaningful attention to your product or service.
Let’s explore the differences between PR and lead gen marketing and outline the most effective ways to blend the two for maximum impact.
PR vs. Lead Gen Marketing
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Advertising is what you pay for; publicity is what you pray for.”
While this adage isn’t an entirely accurate way to look at today’s marketing and PR strategies, it does reflect how most businesses perceive them.
Understanding public relations
A company’s public image is crucial to building and maintaining trust and likeability with current and potential customers. PR is a communications strategy that promotes a positive view of your business by leveraging opportunities to cultivate your public image and engage in public conversations relevant to your field.
As PR specialists, my Goodwin Consulting team develops and executes strategies that establish favorable perceptions of brands via influential channels, including:
- Thought leadership
- Social media engagement and posts
- Consumer education
- Thought leadership
- CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)
PR professionals also provide offensive (crisis planning) and defensive support and damage control (active crisis management) should your company ever face a crisis that threatens its reputation.
Understanding lead generation marketing
Generally speaking, marketing aims to influence customers and prospects to buy what a company is selling.
Lead generation, specifically, focuses on generating consumer interest in a company’s product or service with the end goal of converting that interest into a sale.
If you’ve ever provided your email address to download a free guide or white paper, you’ve participated in lead generation marketing.
Today’s lead generation process is structured like a funnel or pipeline. When a prospect becomes a lead by providing their contact information, they enter the top of the funnel (ToF). Leads then advance through the pipeline to the middle of the funnel (MoF), where the company develops the customer relationship through education and information. Finally, the lead enters the bottom of the funnel (BoF), where they’re explicitly invited to buy.
The pipeline model diverges from the old-school communications strategy that relied heavily on cold calls and high-pressure sales tactics.
From Product to PR to Lead Generation
One Goodwin Consulting client is a distributor for ProtectED Rooms, a Georgia manufacturer that makes bullet-proof bookcases for classrooms. This client wanted to differentiate themselves from the brand’s other distributors.
Their question: “How do we draw attention to ourselves and not the product maker?”
President John F. Kennedy famously said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Here at Goodwin, we embrace that belief with everything we do. Rather than encouraging our client’s fears, we helped them see how public relations could interweave with marketing to attract interest not only in the product but also in the distributor’s brand as a whole.
Our PR strategy amplified the distributor’s marketing efforts by providing validation from objective third parties—e.g., journalists, not salespeople!
The distributor’s next step? Showcasing their PR successes through their existing marketing channels: social media, newsletters, blog posts, and even finely targeted ad campaigns.
You’ve probably seen ads with taglines like “As seen in XYZ Magazine” or “As featured on ABC Television Show.” This blend of PR and marketing lends credibility to a company’s claims, strengthening the brand’s reputation and generating qualified leads.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
I love this story about a former Goodwin Consulting client who builds and sells fire trucks to departments throughout the East Coast. The company was featured in a newsletter, which was read by a fire chief who pinned the article on his office wall, where it remained for several years.
When that department’s budget allowed, the fire chief returned to the article, contacted the fire truck company, and purchased a truck from them.
This story exemplifies the non-linear nature of public relations and lead gen marketing. Companies do occasionally experience a sudden, overwhelming boost in business after a significant PR win. But most of the time, the return on a PR investment is more tortoise than hare.
(If you somehow missed that allegory in your youth: the tortoise wins the race.)
“One hit, three ways”
The number one rule of any communications strategy is, “Don’t let a hit stay dormant.” An easy way to think of this is our internal saying: “One hit, three ways.” In other words, your company should seek three ways to promote every instance of positive PR.
Post a link to the article on social media. Add an announcement to your newsletter. Write a blog post about the feature. 1-2-3!
Don’t hesitate to toot your own horn in these instances. Own your success! Joyfully promote it to your audience! PR wins have a tremendous impact on people’s perception of your company, your product or service, and your status in the market.
Don’t Let Success Surprise You
When you embark on the long game of public relations plus lead gen marketing, you should be prepared to back up those efforts when they begin bringing you new business.
- Website. When new prospects visit your website, will they find the information they’re looking for? Does your site look modern and updated? Are you set up to respond promptly to new inquiries?
- Social media. Have you updated your social media platforms lately? You don’t have to post every day, but if your last post was six months ago, that doesn’t bode well for a prospect’s impression of your company’s success.
- Shopping. How easily can a new customer book your service or buy from you? Does the process feel cumbersome? Does it take too long? Get your purchasing processes streamlined so you don’t lose customers.
Find Your Next Good Win with Goodwin Consulting
Positive public relations stories don’t magically appear. We work hard to get our clients’ businesses in front of the right audiences!
If you’re ready to establish a strong communications strategy and leverage PR alongside your lead gen marketing, I’d love to hear from you.