There are signs that the economy may be slowing down. Many clients are capping programs, pausing until the new year, or passing on spending at all. Whether we're in for a recession or a boom PR professionals must make a change in how they sell and manage clients. The shift is long overdue. Some heeded the slow, persistent warning bell while others heard the clarion call for change and falsely believed that professionalism and expertise would continue to carry them through. That long, slow warning has now become a bullhorn and it is time to listen.
It is no longer easy to sell public relations services. In today’s market, the lines are blurred between many disciplines and clients no longer care about labels or functions but solving a problem. Clients don’t have a universal understanding of the distinctive functioning and have little patience to put the puzzle pieces together on their own.
Added to this murky market is the debate about the value of media relations, a service which far too many believe encompasses the scope of the public relations practice. We argue about the relevancy or shrinking media market ad nauseam.
Let’s be clear, public relations remains a powerful asset to organizations of all sizes. However, we must do a better job of translating our value to our publics. Rather than debating if the press release is dead or the media market is viable, we should be seeking how to align our programs against the goals clients care about and be able to accurately measure success. This may sound like PR 101 to some, but this post is not meant to bring shame but to help you make the shift.
Smart, capable public relations pros are going to lose clients and opportunities unless we improve the way we sell and report on our services. The pros who master the language of their clients and understand how to tie their actions to bottom line goals will not only survive economic ups and downs but thrive.
This one shift is not all that you have to do to have a thriving practice, but it is one that will make a dramatic difference. We have to change how we think about what we do and how we report it to clients. Below are two examples that illustrate this change.
Old: We had xx media mentions this week.
New: The article we placed with ABC Publication resulted in $15,000 worth of sales.
Old: e had a 25% increase in Facebook likes this month.
New: The lead ad that we ran resulted in 300 downloads of our product white paper.
Pieces of the old reporting will continue to have their place, but it is your job as CEO of your company to translate it all into meaningful information for your clients. If you cannot make a strong case on how your efforts move the needle for clients, you may see budgets cut or services outsourced to other service providers.
This is not new and it is not limited to public relations. Perceived value (the worth that a product or service has in the mind of the consumer) impacts pricing. Clients have an internal feeling about what something should cost. If you fail to articulate what they are getting, your services become another widget and clients will choose the lowest cost widget maker that offers the features they want at the best price point. Ouch.
You are not a widget, and it is time to confidently show that to existing and prospective clients. We have the tools available to better articulate the value of what we do but may not be fully leveraging it. We want to help you to not only do the job well but report results in a meaningful way to your clients. To that end, we are offering a series of webinars that show you how to harness the power of Google analytics to track, measure and report success. Last month, Lisa Gerber showed us how to measure and report results. This month, Jill Van Nostran is going to help us get started with Google Analytics by walking us through the basics.
You are good at what you do, so take the time to make sure clients really understand that too. You deserve it! Join us on Thursday, September 14 1t 1pm ET. You can register here.