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The potential impact of PR on sales volumes

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The potential impact of PR on sales volumes

When seeking marketing platforms that will effectively and directly translate into an increase in sales, PR is not generally the tool that springs to mind. MD at Livewired Public Relations, Lucinda Boddy, challenges this notion, pointing out that PR deals with brand reputations and builds trust, which interestingly, has a bigger influence on the bottom line than one would think.

Generally, above the line marketing is seen as a short term action which creates immediate results, while PR is seen as a long term solution, which ultimately deals with a brand’s reputation and aims to create a positive perception of the brand in the eyes of its consumers. “Yes, this is the cornerstone of PR, but what many clients don’t know, is that PR delivers short term results too,” Boddy informs.


Oprah’s Book Club, established by Oprah Winfrey in 1996, provides a good example here. Winfrey started to recommend books and interview authors on her show. The result – a significant impact on the sales of these books, which previously had yet to be listed on any other best sellers’ lists.


Indeed, PR can be used to connect the right brand message to the right audience, via the relevant media channels with the right timing – a strategic tool that can, in a number of cases, be linked to sales performance.


“There are various instances where PR becomes instrumental in the decision making process,” says Boddy. For example, feature articles that appear in industry trade publications have a tendency to influence decision makers. In addition, PR has been linked to sales increase where media campaigns have been timed to coincide with or support an event, appearance or speech. When a number of companies are pitching for new business, a well-timed PR campaign may well get one company selected over its competitors. And of course, one of the greatest benefits of PR is the cost effectiveness of the platform. Where budget for above-the-line marketing activities may be limited, PR provides room for a far greater scope.


“Consumers are known to trust the credibility of editorial content over all types of advertising,” Boddy reports. Because PR is known to generate editorial content, it is more likely to be trusted and trust leads to sales.


PR is also known to generate word of mouth recommendations. According to Neilson, peer recommendation is the most trusted marketing channel, with 90 percent of consumers basing purchasing decisions on this.


McKinsey has revealed that most marketers allocate only 20 percent of their marketing budgets to earned media, with the balance going to owned and bought media. “What they are ignoring is the role earned media (editorial, peer recommendations and online consumer opinions) plays in building brand trust and loyalty,” Boddy points out.


PR is one of the most effective tools in the establishment of brand trust. According to Millward Brown, bonds between consumers and brands are at least 50 percent stronger amongst brands they say they trust and would recommend to their peers. And a stronger brand bond translates directly into sales.


Ultimately, the role of trust is significant when it comes to purchasing behaviour, and it is PR more than any other elements in the marketing mix that uses trusted channels such as the likes of word of mouth, online consumer opinion and editorial through which to communicate.


“With this in mind – it is essential to recognise the role of PR in the sales cycle”, Boddy concludes.

Last modified on Thursday, 21 February 2013 11:32
Lucinda Boddy

Lucinda Boddy

Lucinda Boddy is Managing Director of Livewired PR, a multi-award winning strategic public relations company with an integrated model utilising in-house PR, experiential, advertising and digital teams all working together to achieve the clients’ objectives. Livewired consistently deliver exponential return on investment on all campaigns. Livewired is also a member of the ForeBrands integrated marketing services group and has successfully positioned and helped build brands and reputations for a number of South African and multi-national companies and people. This has been achieved through best-practice thinking and world-class services - from strategy, messaging development and planning right through to execution of external and internal campaigns.  Livewired has expertise in the technology, FMCG, Hospitality, Travel & Tourism, Pharmaceutical & Consumer Healthcare, Property, and NGO industries.


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