If you have a startup, PR can be awesome for business.
I recently wrote about the importance of PR and suggested working with an agency and hustling on your own to get media exposure. That self-hustling piece is great because there is something magical about the way a founder or CEO can communicate her/his passion to a blogger or journalist. You’ll likely already have a decent idea of how to do this if you’ve ever had to present a startup pitch to potential investors.
But I never expected to score a HUGE media placement in a leading national lifestyle publication and have no results to show for it.
New media provides so many opportunities to get your name out there. Where some people may choose to Sync Salesforce and ActiveCampaign apps, in the hopes of creating a larger database of customers to reach out too, some may still use business cards as a way of networking and getting in touch with prospective clients. You can get your hands on some cheap business cards quickly online, but ultimately it’s how you use them as an effective tool that matters. Are the old methods still gold? Time will tell.
Why can’t startups rely on PR for sales?
The answer is simple: PR is unpredictable and unreliable.
PR is unpredictable because, well, you have no idea when a media outlet will choose to cover your business.
PR is unreliable because sometimes you will score an amazing media placement and it doesn’t help your business’ sales. Here’s an example.
To my surprise, this amazing media placement didn’t do anything for my sales. I’m not upset about this, just surprised.
Results from Martha Stewart PR hit
The above graphic is a Google Analytics screen shot of data for the last month, due to the Martha Stewart article. Note there were only 33 visitors to my site from that article and no sales. If you told me a wonderful product review at MarthaStewart.com would result in no sales, I would’ve said you were crazy.
But there are many factors that go into how much exposure any PR gets for your business (e.g., timing, position of story, etc.), and much of it is out of your control.
Hence, the unreliability of PR.
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?
The physicist in this video says if no one is around to hear a tree fall, it only makes compression waves, it does not make a sound.
In the case of the Martha Stewart article, because it didn’t get promoted on Martha Stewart’s Facebook page, or tweeted by Martha herself, it didn’t make a sound (i.e., no one noticed and it didn’t impact my sales).
The Martha article is a nice feather in my cap, but my twins don’t eat feathers. Ha.
I AM thankful for the wonderful review at MarthaStewart.com. And it’s still possible the article will get discovered by consumers and drive traffic to my site that leads to sales.
And while you should absolutely be hustling to get PR for your startup, don’t rely on it exclusively to drive sales, and don’t be surprised or disappointed if you chop down a major PR “tree” and no one is around to hear it fall, so it doesn’t make a sound…or a difference to your company’s sales.
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