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Is PR really about generating leads?

By Jon Brown

Most people don't think of PR professionals as lead generators. After all, it's pretty hard to measure the effect media coverage has on leads, right?

But PR pros actually have a lot of opportunities to help the marketing team generate leads.

Whether it’s earning links in media coverage to increase referral traffic, sharing social posts, or writing a blog, PR is the driver of a lot of the activity behind lead generation.

But is PR really about generating leads? We look at how the shift to digital has changed the way we measure PR and judge its success.

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Can PR help generate leads?

The increasing focus on digital channels and Inbound Marketing has meant PR has had to change.

Don’t get me wrong – the traditional way of using PR purely for earned media coverage is still highly relevant. But as competition increases and markets saturate, businesses are having to work harder to differentiate themselves and get ahead of the competition.

Content is the key differentiator. Think about it – where’s the first place you go when you need to find something out? Google. And what does Google value? Websites full of new, relevant and informative content that can educate people.

Your website is the perfect vehicle to drive prospects and customers to your business and your PR activity (your media placements, content creation and social media) is a vital component of improving your search visibility.

On the other hand, with so much information available online, not optimising your content and using PR effectively can make generating leads like pulling teeth - painful.


PR and SEO

Although the two working together may be strange to some, PR and SEO have a lot more in common than people think. For example, both are aimed at building authority. Whether that’s domain and page authority with SEO, or brand authority and reputation in PR.

The first step in an SEO focussed PR campaign is to make sure your website is ready, because there’s no point starting a PR campaign aimed at generating leads if you haven’t set it up to capture them.

Are your web pages searchable in Google? Do you have downloadable forms of content? Landing and thank you pages?

Now you’ve sorted out your owned media, you can start focusing on your earned media.

By targeting publications which provide a backlink to your website, you can help build your domain and brand authority. It can also provide a direct route to a downloadable asset, such as a case study or eBook, where you can capture information on potential customers.

You can also start looking at paid media for lead generation as well – things like Pay-Per-Click, Paid Social and Display Advertising. Paid media channels are good to use as part of a wider strategy, or for a short-term boost in visitors around a specific campaign.

But be careful if using paid media as a stand-alone tactic, as website visitors will soon dry up as soon as you stop paying for advertising and you haven’t given them a reason to keep coming back on their own.


So, is PR really about lead generation?

Yes and no.

Although PR is still mainly used to gain publicity and brand awareness, you should seriously consider PR as a lead-generation tool as a way of working together with sales and marketing to achieve business goals and growth targets.

But remember – the first step is to create quality content targeted towards search terms and topics that your prospects are searching for. Is a blog on last week’s Stranger Things episode really going to pull people in?

Find what people are talking about by doing some basic keyword searches and build content based around those topic areas. And, if it’s interesting enough, try getting in touch with a journalist and see if they’d be willing to publish something on the topic with a link back to your website.

Still not convinced? Learn how Inbound PR can help increase your lead generation efforts

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