PR Pro as Biz Pro

Posted by on Mar 8, 2013 in General, Lessons, Management | 0 comments

I strongly believe that a good PR pro is also a business person – understanding it, developing it and quantifying it.

Whether you are with an agency or a business, or you are novice or seasoned, good PR pros know their role leaps beyond selling the company story and into credibly selling the company’s products and services with its customers. This post will help connect these dots for why we as PR leaders work hard building relationships and drawing attention to CEOs, companies and industries.

No matter the kind of business, when practicing PR, the bottom line always matters. It’s what makes a business a business.  CEOs, when times are good and when times are bad, always look at it. Where do PR and communications pros cross that line? We are a ‘cost center’ to a CEO, not a revenue generator – at least directly.

Indirectly through research, media relations, shareholder communication, issues management, social media, speaking, awards, roundtable events and quantifying the metrics, we draw attention, build credibility (and protect it), create demand and generate leads. But we don’t directly bring in the numbers,  meet quotas or exceed revenue goals. So how do we increase our value?

The minute a PR pro ties what he or she does to the bottom line, the more valuable the work becomes to the C-suite and often The Street. Some PR pros might consider their own ‘pipeline’ to be the number of journalists, bloggers and prospects discovering their company, writing and talking about it, and influencing others to learn more, interact and buy or refer.

Once a PR person goes beyond key messaging, positioning, media training, scoring the interview and influencing the influencers, the direct impact of a PR pro who sells and contributes to the bottom line is obvious.  I know many who have taken a year or two to switch sides to business development or <a huge gasp> sales. This step can add incredible value to your PR career.

I love medicine and technology. I took three years between my PR and communications roles in both industries to sell medical software to ERs across the country. After this experience, my value as a PR pro clicked. I was forever tied to understanding the bottom line and what CEOs worry about on a daily basis.

PR pros work in hand with sales teams, understand the product or service inside and out, garner customer testimonials, and understand industry challenges.

Business Insider published the top 50 most effective communications professionals in tech last year. David Krane, PR pro for Google, was involved in the public launch of every Google product since the founding. Niki Fenwick another Googler is also an attorney. And Christina Lee a tech veteran now is with VC firm Kleiner Perkins. They are all pros with experience outside PR that strengthened their role to become more effective communicators.

A survey of chief marketing officers at major national and global advertisers found that the value PR delivers as part of the overall marketing mix is increasing because the role is closer to the perspectives, objectives and concerns of corporate CEOs than any other communication or marketing discipline. The survey says PR pros also see “the whole corporate picture,” as it relates to issues that CEOs worry about.

Tie what you do to the bigger picture and the bottom line and watch what happens to your organization’s PR results and your career.

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