PR is the door opener. You’re the deal closer.

PR pros pull numerous levers to open doors to business opportunities. Do you have mechanisms in place to close those opportunities?

I was scrolling around LinkedIn the other day and I came across a post by Parry Headrick, founder of Crackle PR. I’ve never met the fellow and I don’t know anything about his firm, but this particular post (and he apparently makes many of them) really got my attention, especially since I’d recently been engaged in a conversation about what PR actually is.

Essentially, Headrick was expounding on a much shorter Twitter post he’d made, which simply reads “PR does 20X more than pitching the media.” In his longer LinkedIn post, he goes on to offer a lengthy roster of all the things that public relations, in its modern form, includes. Of course, pitching the media is just one of the items.

I agree with every single point on Headrick’s list (which can be found here), but sometimes measuring the ROI of all those efforts can be a difficult task. For as long as I can remember, I’ve encouraged business leaders to measure their PR efforts against KPIs rather than trying to tie specific revenue numbers to something like a piece of earned media or an award. If those KPIs have been appropriately set, a public relations program will yield all sorts of benefits for an organization.

But what do those benefits look like and how are they experienced if not measured by sheer revenue?

In many cases, the ROI can, in part, be measured by how many business doors are being opened. I’ll explain with two very recent examples.

From print to the podium

Over the past year, I’ve had the chance to work with a flooring business that is still riding the COVID-powered home renovation wave. To complement their advertising efforts, this group wanted to pursue a program including earned media, awards, and thought leadership, which all fall under the PR umbrella.

Thanks to the good work that they deliver and their overall positive presence, we were able to achieve win after win together. Some of those wins have opened the door for even more wins.

Here’s one example.

As part of the thought leadership portion of our program, my team reached out to the editor of one of the most well-read media outlets in the flooring industry. We asked if our client could contribute an article about the benefits of flooring contractors staying involved in the full scope of a project even when it’s time for an electrician or plumber to do their part.

The editor of the magazine loved the finished piece so much that they asked if our client would be willing to speak on the topic at an upcoming conference that would be attended by industry peers as well as project managers looking to identify partners for substantially-sized jobs across the country.

One door (the contributed article) opened another (the conference) that will most certainly open more doors for our flooring client to close business through.

Here’s another instance of doors opening.

From radio to PBS

Same partner, new door.

The leadership team of the flooring company is very involved in civic initiatives, and their co-owner was featured on a local NPR affiliate for the numerous ways they give back to the community. It was a very laid back interview, one in which he was able to effectively communicate why he loves the city he calls home and how the organization works to strengthen it.

Not long after the interview aired, he was called by representatives at the local PBS affiliate about a substantial flooring renovation project that needed to be done at their headquarters and studios.

The visit between the flooring company and the PBS affiliate went well, and as the two teams were wrapping up, a PR nugget was uncovered: It turns out that the reason our client was called in to evaluate the project was because someone in the C-suite at the public broadcasting outfit heard the flooring contractor’s radio interview and was so impressed that they remarked something to the effect of “that’s the kind of guy I want spearheading this job.”

Again, one door (the radio interview) opened another door (a preferential shot at a high-revenue project).

PR opens the door, but you’ve got to close the deal

Whenever I meet with a prospective client, one of the many things I try to convey to them is that PR is not sales. Yes, the discipline often blends with marketing efforts, but no matter how many doors an impactful public relations program can open, you’ve still got to have mechanisms in place to close those opportunities.

The flooring client will still need to use his time on stage and conference networking to land some deals. PR got him there, but in the end, he’s going to have to be the one to dunk the alley-oop we’ve lobbed him. He’ll also have to be the one to close the PBS affiliate project.

Getting back to Parry Headrick’s LinkedIn post, PR is a whole host of things, and that list will likely only get longer as new communication mediums emerge. And though closing deals is not on our plate, we’ll continue to pull every lever possible — all the ones on Headrick’s list and more — to get those doors open for our partners on the sales side.