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December 13, 2016
First appeared in the December 2016 print edition of O’Dwyer’s.
There are many circumstances—tequila shots, bright eyeshadow and orange shag carpet come to mind—in which less is more. In PR, however, more is always just more.
Back in September we polled 1,010 American adults in our Consumer PR Effectiveness Study to determine how likely people were to visit a tech company’s website based on media coverage. Then, in October, we fielded a B2B PR Effectiveness Study, which surveyed over 500 marketers—CMOs, vice presidents of marketing, marketing directors and marketing managers—to see how PR influences them.
What we discovered is that some people are moved to visit a company’s website the first time they encounter it in the media. But, in most cases—and this was especially true in the case of consumers—people have to see several media placements before they are moved to check out a company further.
These results confirm what PR people know from experience: a single launch event is not enough. What truly drives traffic to a company’s website and achieves lead generation and, ultimately, sales is a steady cadence of regular coverage in a variety of media outlets. Anything short of that and your company is but a blip on the radar of the noisy news machine.
“Decision makers are influenced by compelling content that brings insight—be it a video, infographic, survey or industry backgrounder,” said Carla Schlemminger, marketing strategist and startup advisor. “By encountering broader content pieces which speak to a larger industry, the reader forms a positive association with the company in question. That company is now gaining brand recognition in the mix of larger industry conversations, trust over lesser-known brands, higher-level partnerships and shorter sales cycles.”
Hetal Pandya, co-founder of EasilyDo, agreed that seeing products and services in the media is essential to making purchasing decisions. “Learning about a B2B company, their product and their success from the press definitely helps give the brand credibility.”
Marketing professionals, on the whole, are far more responsive to media placements than consumers, likely because it is their job to keep their fingers on the pulse of their industry. In our survey, over half (52 percent) of the CMOs and vice presidents of marketing responding said they would visit a company’s web or mobile site the first time they see a company in the news. That was also true for 43 percent of the marketing directors and one in five marketing managers. Seeing a story several (two to five) times in the media will garner visits from another third of CMOs and VPs (35 percent), another third of marketing managers and another 14 percent of marketing directors.
“As a CMO, if I’m engaged in a branding campaign, then I’ll be automatically drawn to content related to branding and will likely visit websites that can educate me on trends, tools or techniques,” said Arya Barirani, CMO of GlobalLogic. “Good marketers are always putting themselves in the audience context —some call this the customer journey — to figure out how to serve up content to create greater engagement. So, yes, if I encounter a really compelling piece of content, I will certainly investigate the company further.”
“As a rule of thumb, consumers must hear about a product or service two to five times from three different sources for a company to establish awareness and earn purchase consideration,” agreed Mark Undercoffler, a 20-year marketing industry professional. “In contrast, many in the industry are tasked with innovating and keeping a competitive advantage, so the B2B audience is more likely to check out a new company sooner.”
Indeed, consumers are a harder win: only one in five American men and 13 percent of women will check out a site the very first time they see a media placement. Sixteen percent of American men will visit a company site after seeing several (between two to five) media placements, and nearly one in four will visit a site after seeing a company in the news more than five times. Only an additional 11 percent of women say they will visit a company’s site after seeing several placements, but 49 percent say they will eventually check out a company’s web or mobile site if they see enough placements.
“The studies’ results are clear,” added David Hurwitz, Vice President of Marketing at MosaixSoft. “Seeing a company mentioned by legitimate third parties drives interest. The magic of PR is to make that happen.”
While a launch event is—in the right hands—definitely news, one foray into the media will not be enough to propel a company to success. Sustained, creative PR outreach efforts to a variety of outlets are the best—maybe only—way to achieve long-term success.
“PR is likely the most effective sales lead tool available to companies today,” added Undercoffler. “The days of taking potential clients out to time-consuming entertainment events to woo them are all but over.”
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About the author
Curtis Sparrer is a principal of Bospar PR. He has represented brands like PayPal, Tetris and the alien hunters of the SETI Institute. He is a member of the Forbes Communications Council and has written for Adweek, Forbes, the Dallas Morning News, and PRWeek. He is an active member of the National Lesbian Gay Journalist Association. Business Insider has twice listed him as one of the Top Fifty in Tech PR.