In an integrated campaign, public relations must drive sales.

Take it easy, PR professionals. I know that statement makes you crazy.

Yes, it’s a bold comment, but honestly, when I went looking for a PR partner for JPL, I wanted a firm with that kind of philosophy.

I found it in Abel Communications, a PR firm that isn’t afraid of tying public relations to business objectives like leads generated and/or sales.

Data is Power

In JPL’s Accountable Campaign℠ model, we use sales and marketing data to evaluate the success of each element in an integrated program. We track campaign performance using rich, granular information. We know what’s working and what isn’t. We trend data historically, and we analyze and form insights that help us adjust the campaign and plan for future efforts — all with a focus on driving leads and affecting sales.

For marketers, the web changed our game years ago. We’re able to show our worth in dollars and cents.

In my world of working with clients, data is power, and tangible results are everything.

No question, building brand awareness is still a critical element of the integrated campaigns we’re developing, but awareness is the starting point, not the end game.

We can’t stand before a business decision maker and talk only about sentiment, impressions and mentions. Yes, those things help build awareness. But we have to talk about them in the context of how they help our clients grow their businesses.

As we evaluated potential PR partners, I became very much aware of the debate about whether or not PR can or should contribute to things like lead generation and sales.

Earlier in my career, I worked in a corporate public relations department. At that time, we didn’t talk about growth and retention metrics as part of our PR work.

Today, it’s not an option.

It’s a Beautiful Thing

When we build an integrated campaign, public relations must be held accountable to the same objectives as marketing communications.

Getting articles in the media is our strategy, it’s not the objective.

Within an integrated campaign, we set PR objectives that align with critical campaign goals like lead generation, lead conversion, sales, thought leadership, web traffic and brand awareness.

We measure PR success against those goals. We can still measure and report on the quality and strategic value of exposures. We can use “share of discussion” metrics to demonstrate our PR successes versus competitors. And, we certainly want to demonstrate targeted reach by reporting “impressions,” from print to unique web visits.

But those metrics must be aligned to show how PR is helping us meet our client’s business objectives.

As we develop and execute marketing campaigns today, our goal is to fully integrate public relations. We tie PR activities to financial gains, and when we do that, it’s a beautiful thing. We see the powerful, tangible, business impact of public relations.