PR for Client Acquisition

What is the ROI of PR
What is the ROI of PR
By Mark Macias


What’s the secret sauce to PR? It’s one of the most popular questions I hear from tech startups and business owners who want to understand the process or formula for media placements.


That’s like asking a defense attorney, how do you get your clients out of jail, but for simplicity sake, every PR campaign must be unique and tailored to the client for it to succeed with media placements. There is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to getting a story placed with the Wall Street Journal, USA Today or CNBC.


Earlier this week, I spoke with the CMO of a private equity firm who asked me about the process of PR. After I explained how PR works, I turned the question back to her and asked about her firm’s “process” for finding new clients. She said it involved emails, press releases and conferences.


Let me compare those three processes – email, press releases and conferences – to PR, as a form of client acquisition.


Emails – An email marketing blast is only as good as its list, but what is your personal response to spam? Do you view it in a favorable light? My PR firm has sent out invites to hedge fund/private equity forums, using email services like Chimp Mail. We weren’t selling our services – only inviting people to a free forum that discussed emerging trends in alternative assets. Less than 3 percent of the respondants even opened their email from Chimp Mail. This approach didn’t even give us a chance to introduce the forum because spam filters kept the message out. When I asked that CMO about their ROI from email, she admitted, it didn’t perform too well. This marketing approach will become even less influential as cyber hackers attempt to penetrate more emails via spam.


Press Releases – The term Press releases are thrown around randomly in the world of business. For clarity, a press release is not a method for getting a story on the news – contrary to what most people believe. A press release is posted on a PR newswire and no journalist, reporter or producer will go to the PR newswires to look for a story idea. However, a press release can help you with SEO when it is written correctly with key SEO terms. Ask yourself, what is the purpose of my press release before you send it out. A press release can be especially effective for tech startups that need to establish an online presence or put a milestone on the record, but if you’re hoping it will lead to a story in the Wall Street Journal, it’s a waste of money.


Conferences/Networking – We all need to network and conferences provide intimate opportunities to meet potential business partners in a less threatening environment. I’m actually speaking on a panel this week at a hedge fund conference in Las Vegas. If 100 people hear me speak and I meet another 100 new people, I will consider it a succeess. But it’s hard to introduce your services on a larger scale at conferences. Even if you bring a large team to the conference, most of us can’t associate a face with a business card after 15. And with some conferences now costing upwards of $8k, that is money that could be invested in a multi-month PR campaign that better spreads your message.


PR – I’m partial because I own a PR firm, but I’ve seen how a story in the news can lead to new clients. Mobile apps are one of the best ways to quantify the value of a PR campaign. Earlier this summer, Macias PR launched a communications app, Blush No More, to help position our top-rated firm in the news. One story in the Daily Mail UK led to more than 900 downloads. That Daily Mail story led to interest by Channel 11 in NYC, which ran a TV story on our mobile app. Another 800 new app downloads followed that Channel 11 story. But you don’t need to be in the B2C space to take advantage of PR. Media campaigns can target trade publications, giving your business an opportunity to find new business. Next month, our B2B client will be in Wall Street Lawyer -a prominent B2B Reuters publication. That story will introduce this company to new potential clients that can use their services.


Online advertising is another new business approach and for tech startups it can be their first thought for publicity, but a recent Google report showed that roughly 50 percent of all online ad views are seen by robots. You know what that means? Advertisers are getting cheated from their ad buys because companies are paying for a certain number of page views and only half of those are legitimate. Keep in mind, the source of that report is Google – an online advertiser.


So the next time  your CMO wants to measure the ROI of the different marketing approaches, think about why we actively solicit news articles and actively avoid viewing ads.


Macias PR was named the 2015 “PR Consultant Firm of the Year – USA” by Finance Monthly. The firm was founded by Mark Macias – a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. Macias is a weekly contributor with and author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media, which has been featured in the NY Times, Fox Business, NY Post and others. Macias PR has run media campaigns for tech startups, financial groups, service providers, nonprofits and politicians.