In today’s digital environment, can the use of traditional publicity and media relations still be an effective strategy to increase sales?
By Jim Sweeney
Traditional publicity and media relations is a broad strategy that if properly targeted and effectively implemented can achieve – or at least support the achievement of – virtually any marketing/communications objective, including increasing sales.
To be sure, there are certainly more effective marketing, advertising and public relations strategies to directly impact sales. But the value of traditional publicity and media relations – to create awareness, build brand and establish credibility for a company, product or service – should never be underestimated.
Despite the growth of online media – both news and social – the vast majority of consumers in the U.S. continue to spend more time watching TV, listening to radio and reading newspapers and magazines than they do on the Internet.
In fact, the real difficulty in using traditional publicity and media relations to drive sales, is often the ability and/or willingness to measure the impact of the results – media coverage. Whether you are selling products nationwide at multiple retail locations or promoting your new restaurant in Wilmington, NC, it is extremely challenging (and usually cost-prohibitive) to track magazine, newspaper and broadcast coverage, then connect that coverage with sales (unless of course your product appears on Oprah).
Depending upon your desire and ability, you can apply some basic metrics:
1. You can easily document deliverables (e.g., media database, press materials, media calls, product sample distributions).
2. You can easily measure results (e.g., numbers of interviews, quantity and quality of coverage, consumer impressions).
3. You can even account for some corresponding “sales” activity (e.g.,direct links to your web site, spikes in web site and/or store traffic, incoming calls to a designated phone number).
Beyond this, your metrics and your measurement strategies must be a bit more sophisticated and costly. Still, making the hard connection between publicity and media relations is doable. Unfortunately it requires time and money that most marketers prefer to put back into the campaign.
Is it an effective strategy? You bet.
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