Kasey Christolos, Senior Media Lead at Next PR, shares insightful data from the firm’s 2023 client survey. Kasey talks about how communicators can maximize ROI. She emphasizes the importance of connecting the PR and sales teams in an organization. Kasey also explains the abbreviation, FUD, and shares a client example.
DOUG: Next PR recently conducted a client survey and Kasey, you found some causes for optimism for our industry.
KASEY: We did. Yeah. Of the respondents we surveyed, 55% of marketers said their budget will stay the same and 24% actually said their budgets will increase in 2023.
DOUG: Yeah, so that is a good sign. One of the challenges you found that clients are facing is to be able to demonstrate ROI. How do you communicate that better? What advice do you have?
KASEY: Yeah, great question. So, it’s really important to help connect those dots between PR efforts and top of the funnel marketing awareness for either your client, if you’re on the agency side or internal decision makers within the company. I think one of the biggest misses I see as a as a PR pro is when people aren’t connecting ROI to what internal marketers are being measured on internally in terms of the KPIs and what they’re really seeing as, you know, efforts that move the needle internally. So, you know, I think, for example, earned media articles are something that is great. But see a lot of people communicate the ROI of that as the sheer volume of coverage rather than what that is doing for the brand’s image. So those earned media articles are really important for heightening a brand’s credibility or reputation. And while that might indirectly contribute to revenue gains, more importantly, it’s really helping those sales prospects find your client’s brand and sort of validate the decision that they’re about to make in in the evaluation stage.
DOUG: Yeah. And we’ve found obviously our core part of our work is helping clients get on TV, is that they’re frequently repurposing that for social media and other platforms where it can be more measured specifically about the result of generating from sales. But you do want to bridge the gap between PR and sales. What are some of the ways you can do that?
KASEY: So, think in terms of creating a clear line of communication between the PR team and the sales team. That’s something that’s often lacking. The PR team and the sales team just speak a different language. That is a fact of life. It is a fact of the company structure. So, I think if that clear line of communication doesn’t exist, if there is no relationship that is built between those teams, you’re really going to see a miss in terms of sales teams ability to maximize the PR efforts. So, I think a lot of times what I hear from my team from an agency side is that PR teams don’t even know how to bridge the conversation with a sales team and asking what the prospects are sharing with the sales team in terms of the pain points they’re trying to solve, even who they’re up against in a sales cycle. In terms of the competitor brands, that information can be really helpful to us as a as a PR team and how long it takes to close a deal. All of those things that are things that can be incredibly helpful, you know, to us as a PR team in terms of our ability to provide results that that can be leveraged in that process.
DOUG: Yeah. And I guess failing to make that connection, you’d probably call that a PR miss. Are there any other PR misses that sort of keep you up at night and we can be metaphorically speaking on this one?
KASEY: Sure. Sure. Yeah. I mean the lack of sales team connection and PR pros relationship I would say keeps me up at night the most. But I think the other thing is, just as a PR team and as a marketing team, there are so many misses that are made in terms of not maximizing the ROI of a media placement by extending its lifecycle beyond sales, even. So, I think there are a lot of things that that PR teams can do internally or if you’re on the agency side, even recommending to your client to maximize PR wins, like media placements and award wins, some of those things are, you know, tagging a reporter or the media outlet and social posts or if the reporter is sharing a media article, resharing and engaging those posts, providing social copy to employees for their personal channels is another really important one. I think you have such a great built in sort of cheerleader team of brand ambassadors with internal employees and that’s not leveraged enough. So, making it as easy as possible for internal employees to share those wins is a great way to extend the life cycle. Um, and then one massive myth that this keeps me up at night would be not utilizing a newsroom. You would be surprised with how many clients and brands just are not leveraging that newsroom at all in terms of posting wins and media placements.
DOUG: So, you’ve touched on the importance of all this for internal communication, but there’s a relatively new acronym, at least it was to me, FUD, fear, uncertainty and doubt, which is probably growing in this time of economic uncertainty. How do you address that both at the client level within your organization? There are all sorts of constituencies that seem to be struggling with that.
KASEY: Absolutely. It was something that we heard from our client survey internally and is critical for marketers to stay ahead of their competitors and other brands in 2023. And one thing that is precluding teams from being able to do that is FUD. So, fear, uncertainty and doubt is something that many internal sales teams and marketers are very used to hearing. You know, the FUD that is spread throughout the market is usually invoked by competitors to sort of see doubt in the minds of sales process. So, you know, to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about moving forward with purchasing a technology platform or moving forward with partnering with a specific brand that FUD can really preclude, you know, a sales deal from closing.
DOUG: Yeah. So, we don’t want things to get FUDded up, as you might say. Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that you work with a lot of clients in the tech space and a lot of the quote, negative news that’s coming out about layoffs has been sort of confined or led by the tech industry with big names. So how do you navigate when negative news is out there and help try and make it somewhat positive?
KASEY: Absolutely. So, I think the best way for communicators to really deal with and help counteract FUD is by continuing to invest in PR efforts even during tough times. I know that’s obviously difficult given the market, but it’s just incredibly important for your brand to put forth that steady, consistent, and positive image no matter the state of your industry. We’re releasing that that consistent media coverage and press announcements will help drive your brand forward and it prevents the market, including your competitors and prospects from assuming the worst and creating that FUD. So ,I think maintaining that presence is critical.
DOUG: Yeah. I was also going to say we’re starting to see where brands are maybe cutting some members of the internal team. They’ll need to increase spending externally. That seems to be a path a number of brands and organizations are going with. Any final thoughts to leave our viewers?
KASEY: Yeah, I think one anecdote I’d love to share from an internal Next PR point is, you know, around a client that had faced, you know, fairly negative news think it’s sort of a telling anecdote for other brands who may be in the same space. We had a cryptocurrency brand in November of 2022 during the fallout of FTX, and that client was perfectly stable in terms of having minimal exposure to, you know, really the crisis at hand. But they were getting an extreme amount of FUD from everywhere, from reporters, the Twittersphere, customers and the like. And what we really led with was transparency and stable communication. And through that, we were really able to position that brand as the de facto leader, you know, in that industry, and they’re better for it at the end of it. So, what I’d encourage any PR team to do is proactively build that trust that would enable your client or the decision makers within that company to trust your strategy in turbulent times, because you’ll need that trust and the trust bank later on.
DOUG: That’s great advice. And Casey, thanks so much for spending time with us. Great stuff.
KASEY: Thank you.