What’s your advice?

newspaper-3Imagine that a small, but growing, manufacturing company run by a dynamic CEO has just hired you or your firm.

Now imagine they’ve set fairly aggressive media goals. They’d like to be seen not only in the industry trades, but in the most important national business media as well.

Last, but not least, you’re their very first PR firm.

Despite the odds, your team succeeds beyond your wildest dreams. Within a two-month time frame, they land major placements for the CEO with everyone from Fox Business News and CNBC to The Wall Street Journal and Inc. Magazine.

Now, imagine your shock when you receive a ‘Dear John’ letter from the head of communications letting you know he’ll be executing the 90-day termination clause in the contract, citing disappointing results.

After you drag you lower jaw off your desk, you fire back a missive, saying that you were more than proud of your team’s performance; indeed you are intent on submitting the campaign to every awards program under the sun.

When you do connect with the client, he reiterates his disappointment, adding that they’d expected PR to drive sales.

Ah ha. So, that was the disconnect. While we’d agreed on benchmarks for the campaign, we had no idea the client was counting on PR alone to drive sales. I tried explaining that PR is a superb vehicle for creating awareness, credibility and consideration, but closing sales was the client’s responsibility. Not ours.

I also asked our resident measurement expert, Nicole Moreo, senior manager, research and analytics, to weigh in. She said, “When measuring the success of a program, the goals need to be outlined from the beginning. There needs to be a combination of media and business goals in order to truly track success. The client needs to be willing to share internal KPI data so the PR team has the opportunity to make their goals meaningful to the client’s bottom line.” Amen. While we knew the media goals, we were left in the dark as to the business objectives (i.e. PR had to drive sales).

In any event, they went their way and we went ours. But, I learned three valuable lessons in the process:

– Be wary of working with any company that’s never worked with outside communications counsel. They’ll have no barometer with which to judge good, bad or otherwise.

– Be crystal clear about what PR, social media, content creation, etc., can and cannot do in terms of driving sales. In some instances, PR can, indeed, drive sales. In most instances, it’s one of many integrated marketing strategies a savvy client will use to drive qualified sales leads.

– And, finally, beauty IS indeed very much in the eye of the beholder. Where I saw Silver Anvil-worthy work, the client saw a lack of sales conversions.

How about you? Having read this scenario, would you add any other thoughts?

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