How to Use PR in a Marketing-for-Leads Program

    February 18, 2004

The public relations (PR) discipline covers a vast array of activities-everything from ribbon-cutting ceremonies to crisis communication. Some of these activities are geared to creating qualified sales leads, and those can play an important role in your marketing-for-leads program.

The most common lead-generating PR technique is editorial outreach. The objective is to get a mention of your company, products, services and/or managers in articles published by the magazines and newspapers your prospects read, or to get an article written by a manager from your company published in a target publication. These kinds of editorial placements can have a significant impact on lead generation.

Although editorial coverage is much less costly than paid advertising, it requires time and commitment to developing relationships with key reporters in your industry. For the greatest success, you should plan to do a full program geared toward editorial coverage rather than an unstructured series of attempts to get “ink.”

Your PR program should include a combination of the following:

Stand-alone press releases, email pitches and/or media advisories

Press kits (including items such as a company backgrounder, management bios, product or people photographs, press releases and reprints of articles about your company)

Setting up your management as a source of experts for media interviews

Building relationships with editors

Customer success stories

Feature articles written by your management (or ghostwritten for them)

PR tips

Whether you hire a PR agency or do your own PR, you should take the following steps in crafting your program.

Create a list of target publications and get to know them. Who reads each? What kind of information does the periodical publish? If the publication specializes in product news, the editors probably don’t want your press release announcing the appointment of a new CFO.

Talk to the editors. Before contacting any editor, review the publication and its website. Then determine which editor is the correct one to contact. Call that editor and ask about his/her needs and preferences. A current editorial calendar can usually be found in the advertising section at the publication’s website. After reviewing the calendar, you can decide which stories you can offer to be a source or expert for, or which months you could offer a written expert-opinion piece.

If you are persistent, eventually you will speak with an editor on the phone or in person. It’s a good idea to mention trends, research and technological developments pertinent to the publication or the editor’s beat. This is the kind of information editors remember when they receive assignments.

If you have a story idea you want to pitch, call your editorial contact. Explain how the story relates to the editorial calendar. Be prepared to send in a synopsis and story outline ASAP. If the editor asks you to submit the entire article, be sure to meet or beat the deadline, recognizing that the editorial deadline is usually different from the advertising deadline.

Press releases

When writing or reviewing a press release, make sure it is actually announcing news. Editors are looking for information their readers want to know, usually about a service or product that solves a business problem, reflects a new way of doing something or saves money. When talking about your news, you need to address it from a reader’s point of view-how it will benefit the reader.

A well-written press release should answer the following questions:

What business problem is as yet unsolved?

What is the product or service, and how does it solve the problem?

What does it do?

How does it do it?

Why should a reader care about this product?

What are its benefits?

What are its capabilities?

What are its key features?

How much does it cost?

When will it be available?

In addition, the release should avoid corporate self-praise. Eliminate words such as “revolutionary,” “unique” or “best.” It’s always better to have testimonials from your customers than to praise the product yourself. Also, be careful of jargon. Have someone who doesn’t know anything about the product read the release. Can he or she understand it? Remember, reporters do not have your depth of knowledge about your product or service. Write simply and clearly.

Your release must include contact information, as well. Clearly indicate your company’s contact names and titles, phone numbers, fax numbers and email addresses, either at the top or the bottom of the press release.

Offer photography to publications that use it, asking the editor about preferred formats. Today, most publications prefer digital photos. However, if you are mailing the release with photo prints or transparencies, attach a sticker to the back of each indicating the product name, company name and contact information.

Although it is better to accurately target your releases to specific editors, there are some press release mass-distribution services available on the Internet. These services will, for a modest fee, send your release to editors for you. Consider the following:

To learn more about using public relations as part of a successful marketing-for-leads program, visit and click on the link for the guide entitled “Business-to-Business Lead-Generation Tactics: A Recipe for Success.”

M. H. Mac McIntosh is described by many as one of Americas leading sales and marketing consultants and an authority on inquiry handling and sales lead management. Visit his website at, email Mac at or call him at 1-800-944-5553.