Elizabeth Shea is EVP, Public Relations at REQ, an award-winning marketing, brand management and PR company.
Generating the right leads in today’s challenging economic climate requires a deft mix of marketing strategies. It’s not always enough to rely on traditional lead-generation tools, such as Google Adwords or Demandbase. You can use public relations, along with a dash of digital communications, to fill your sales funnel and cultivate the right leads.
Today, PR is much more than just media relations. The definition of PR is broad enough to include content marketing, influencer marketing and other forms of communication that you can use to grow leads with external prospects and reduce churn of current customers.
Here are three ways PR can help you build and sustain your customer base.
Get Your Story In The Right Places
When many executives think of PR, they immediately begin thinking about press releases and stories in The New York Times. But if lead generation is a top priority for you, consider forgoing mainstream press and focus on getting your company’s story out in targeted vertical publications that cover your customers’ markets.
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For instance, if healthcare is a top market, pitch your stories to healthcare-focused magazines or websites. The same goes for construction, financial services, government and other sectors. Do some digging and you’ll discover that there’s a niche publication for just about everything.
Once you’ve identified those publications, think of some tactics that will grab their readers’ attention. You could issue a press release about a recent contract or partnership with a business in a particular industry, or submit an idea for a joint byline article that you and a customer write together. You could also offer to write an article about a particular topic of interest to those readers. Whatever method you choose, use it to present your organization as a trusted authority in a specific industry.
Develop Focused Long-Form Content
Long-form content, such as white papers and ebooks, can be great tools for demonstrating your expertise and knowledge and establishing your organization’s credibility in a specific market.
Customers want to know that you have domain expertise in their particular area. White papers, ebooks and case studies centered around your top industries can show you understand organizations’ pain points and allow you to provide recommendations on how to address those points. White papers and ebooks can also give you the chance to provide guidance on market opportunities and where their industry might be headed. Case studies can show how you have helped similar companies overcome issues and achieve measurable results.
Longer-form content gives you the freedom to expand on your expertise while educating your prospects. They will come away informed but also intrigued. If your content is well-written, engaging and on point, it’s highly probable that those customers will follow up to find out more information about what your company can do for them.
You may not have to wait for them to contact you. When prospects and customers fill out forms on your site to access these assets, you will have a viable list of leads you can follow up with. Additionally, they are likely to be very targeted leads because they have shown an interest in your vertical market expertise.
Merge Digital And Traditional Communications
Have your digital and PR teams work together to leverage and promote the assets you’ve created, and make sure everyone is driving toward the same lead generation goals. For example, ask your digital teams to promote the articles you’ve placed in vertical publications across your social media channels, or use paid and organic search programs to push potential leads to your long-form content. Or create a podcast and have PR inform the content, while the digital teams provide the promotional and technological expertise.
Consider ways to enliven already existing lead generation tools. Use email marketing campaigns to push out links to your most recent articles or webinars. Customize your messages and content accordingly, particularly if you’re trying to grow your business through account-based marketing and are focusing on a set of high-value customers. Refresh the copy on outdated landing pages that may still have equity so you can keep ranking for Google searches and stay top of mind.
At the end of the day, I’ve found that the best way to generate leads is to position yourself as an expert in the field where those prospects reside. This is where PR excels. You can use it as a voice that resonates with the people who are most important to your business. Don’t overlook it for your lead generation efforts.