Don’t hide behind the postman: Top tips to make the PR department indispensable

Anyone working in PR will, at some point in their career, have had to justify what PR actually is to those who sit outside of the profession. After a short stint of pretending to my friends and family that PR is a type of dark art reserved only for the chosen few (not strictly untrue) I’ve settled on this simple explanation: ‘I make brands famous’.

While this response is often enough to stop Joe public in their tracks, it doesn’t have the same gravitas when you’re being asked to defend your role as indispensable to those who actually employ you. Increasingly, us PR folk are asked to prove our value to sales-led organisations and it is no longer considered ok to justify the impact PR has by ‘guesstimating’ how many people may have had the opportunity to see your coverage. The expectation today is that PR should be truly measurable and play a key role in driving leads and subsequently sales. And so, in this ever-changing world of PR, here are my top tips to make sure you and your team stand out in the business and remain indispensable:

  1. Customer insight is king: Take time to understand exactly who your audience are as this will inform the rest of your strategy. You can only truly measure the success of a campaign if you know from the outset who you are trying to influence. A combination of market research and insight from your sales team can help you build customer personas and from this you can determine their buying habits and what, where, when and how they consume information, all of which will make it much easier to target them.
  2. Quality over quantity: Content has always been central to the role of the PR department and with the fundamental shift in the way we consume information never, before has it played such as critical role. But don’t be misled into thinking you need to become a content machine. Your content strategy should not be about how much you produce but that you are producing the right stuff and that you promote it in the right way and at the right time.
  3. Let automation do the walking so you can do the talking: Using the right technology, such as HubSpot, allows you to automate the delivery of content and free up your time to focus on thinking about how content can address customer pain points. Remember that the technology is only as good as the person behind it – so make sure you have a clear content strategy mapped out and don’t be afraid to experiment.
  4. Back to basics: Despite the role of the PR department expanding, there is still a place for more conventional tactics such as trade shows and seminars. These types of interaction will work harder for you if you engage with prospects in an ongoing conversation, such as sending out some follow-up insight after events. Don’t feel obliged to attend the biggest events of the year just because your competitors are: sometimes choosing smaller events where you can shine, rather than getting lost in the crowd, is a much better bet.
  5. It’s not all about coverage: Exposure and brand presence through coverage remain important but when you are trying to influence the number of customers who can become marketing qualified leads you need to think about how you can link people back to your web presence. You need to drive home the importance of gated content on your website and the need for a clear call to action to help track your impact. Tactics such as digital magazines and customer newsletters which include traceable links are great examples of tools to invest in here.

And finally, if all else fails, next time you are asked what you do, try what my husband does which is to state that he’s a postman (he isn’t). Having spent many years avoiding awkward enquiries about his own profession he sticks with this line because it tends not to invite follow up-questions! Of course we don’t need to resort to these measures because we, as consummate PR professionals, should remain proud of what we do, especially since it’s simple to justify our roles and why we make a real difference to the businesses we work with.

For more insight on how to future proof the PR department click here