What makes public relations (when properly done) continue to be valuable? One of the key properties of well-executed PR is that it’s a force multiplier. In military terms, a force multiplier is any factor or attribute that increases the effectiveness of a force beyond what that force would generate by itself. For example, if you have two platoons of soldiers advancing on an objective, but one platoon is equipped with a GPS, the GPS-geared platoon will be more effective at reaching their objectives faster than the platoon that’s not geared. As another example, go back in time and look at the colonial conquests of New World civilizations: firearms and disease made smaller invading forces significantly more effective than the larger native populations that were not as well-armed or immunized.
So how does this relate to public relations? PR is a force multiplier for marketing. Consider this rudimentary marketing funnel:
Let’s say that you’ve got a pretty decent sales process and you close 25% of the deals that you get. Let’s say you’ve got a pretty decent marketing process and you capture and convert 10% of the leads you get. What would make you more effective? Getting more audience. Getting more people to the front door of the business so that you can invite them in and pique their interest. The more people you can get into the front door, the more will convert and ultimately become customers.
This is where advertising and public relations diverge. Both deliver audience, but advertising does so in a mostly linear fashion. Spend 1% more on advertising and you’ll get 1% more in results. Public relations differs in that if your product or service is interesting enough, you can get significant spikes in growth, far above the dollar amounts spent. Here’s an example from our own internal PR.
We had a few great hits recently, and the week over week traffic differences on our website show spikes in growth of 20%-30% for a couple of weeks as a piece of coverage took off. Logically, as more people arrived and looked around, more people converted as well, amplifying the impact of sales and marketing.
This is the power of force multiplication with PR. Your sales and marketing teams have a certain level of effectiveness, but when coupled with well-executed PR, their effectiveness can grow significantly because more people are lined up at the front door, waiting to come in and see what you’ve got to offer.
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology