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The Greatest ROI for PR? Visibility

At a recent PR metrics conference, I heard another attendee say, “Increasing visibility should never be one of your corporate goals. That’s not a goal.” But I disagree in general. It most certainly is a goal, and a worthy one at that, especially in the B2B space. If no one has heard of your business, then how will anyone find you? How will they know you exist? How will you boost your SEO in order to be found?

We work with media technology suppliers every day as they launch new technologies and products. As they hire new talent to continue growing their business. As they present new techniques and business models that will help shape the future of the media and entertainment industry. Failing to communicate this type of news and information to the wider market is like building a car and failing to put the wheels on it.

In the modern era, almost all educated buyers do online research before making a decision. The research starts even before they decide which companies to talk to. Much of this homework involves exploring, or even following technology vendors on the internet. And they’re not just looking at product descriptions, case studies, blogs, and the standard content on company websites. Any potential buyer doing due diligence will find and react to products and services that are highlighted in trusted industry publications or by key industry influencers.

Every connection to a credible source — trade publication, established technology partner, high-profile end user — bestows a kind of legitimacy on the vendor’s business and brand. From the perspective of the shopper, every positive association decreases the perceived risk. These connections are also the highest value boosters for SEO.

Can you put a number on the ROI? Maybe, maybe not. A perfect CRM in a perfect world would track every single new lead and recontact, so you would be able see that one person just called out of the blue, while another read an article, clicked through to your website, and then finally made an inquiry. In the real world, though, buyers are driven by multiple mentions and through multiple impressions — a sign at a trade show, advertising via a trade publication, and contact via LinkedIn by one of your salespeople, to name just a few examples.

In another age, it was said that it took seven or so such impressions before someone would remember a brand name. Today, given the inundation of information, it now can take 20 or more impressions before a buyer really knows what your business does or what your new product offers. Along with the whole marketing toolbox, PR plays a fundamental role not only in creating positive impressions, but in keeping the frequency of positive impressions high. What’s that worth? What’s the ROI?

It is a challenge to determine specific ROI for PR efforts, but the impact is real and meaningful. If you need to justify specific activities, ask your sales people whether customers have already heard about the new product or acquisition before the sales call. Track your web hits after a major announcement appears in one of the key trade pubs. Without spending a fortune on surveys or focus groups, you can probably find clever ways to track engagement related to the timing of your various marketing and PR efforts. Visibility does matter. And as a piece of the larger sales and marketing puzzle, PR is vital in boosting impressions and increasing business and brand visibility