It’s less about what PR agencies do and what they should be doing, and more of the right go-to-market strategy for this company.
Pete Hendrick is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Octopus Group, overseeing brand engagement teams and leading on key accounts (including Unisys, SSE Enterprise Telecoms, Urban Airship and Currencycloud). Octopus Group is a brand-to-sales agency helping B2B clients big and small accelerate their growth. They use their “Brand to Sales” methodology to take their clients’ prospects from initial brand awareness to first purchase as quickly as possible.
In this episode of Velocitize Talks, Hendrick shares his thoughts on the sweet spot between marketing, and Brand Sales.
Brand Sales = Sales (1:16)
We’re a full service agency; everything we do is through the lens of making the journey from prospect to buying customers as quickly as possible.
In the past marketing and sales existed in silos. However, as the move to digital swept through these functions, it became imperative for them to work closely together. Hendrick has identified a sweet spot between the demand generation/lead generation and content strategy and creative ideas. It’s a methodology Octopus Group uses called Brand Sales. Brand Sales fuses research, PR, social, content, events and technology together to create focused campaigns that result in faster sales.
One of their campaigns leveraging this approach was for e-commerce platform Hectare Agritech, matching farmers who want to buy stock. Octopus Group created a Tinder-type app for cows called Tudder around Valentine’s Day to generate publicity for Hectare. As this award-winning program gained traction, Octopus Group engaged their creative, digital and demand gen departments to raise awareness of the opportunities and benefits for farms to trade livestock online, grow subscribers to the SellMyLivestock platform, and gauge international appetite for online livestock trading in key markets.
A month-long program of proactive media engagement generated huge awareness, direct engagement with the campaign app, leading to a dramatic increase in subscribers to the SellMyLivestock platform (a 58% increase compared with the previous six months).
Tell Me a Story (3:33)
PR practitioners historically have had to be great storytellers and come up with really creative ideas because it’s earned media and, ultimately, you can’t pay for the space.
Despite the dramatic rise of digital marketing, PR remains an essential tool to generate earned media placements. This assists in building brand identity and industry equity; in turn, it can increase brand awareness among key markets and lead to additional sales. “It is often the PR team that comes up with that incisive idea that is then embraced by the full marketing and sales team,” Hendrick says.
Ultimately it’s storytelling that can make or break a company. The Harvard Business Review credits a compelling story with building credibility, inspiring an audience, and leading an organization. A great PR team creates great stories, ones which are audience-specific, clearly contextualized, human-centric, action-oriented, and, finally, humble. Storytelling is essential for a company to make a lasting impression.
Leverage PR for ROI (6:47)
What we try to do is make our programs as measurable as possible by integrating them into the broader demand and lead generation programs of our clients.
Most companies talk about PR ROI in terms of media impressions, number of placements, and message pull-through. Of course, as Hubspot points out, metrics mean absolutely nothing if they don’t meet the business goals. Hendrick has found that when there are “stand-alone media relations programs that aren’t sufficiently integrated into other go-to-market channels, it’s much harder to prove the impact in terms of KPIs, click throughs, visits, lead gen, and so on.”
Octopus Group uses a holistic approach for KPIs by integrating them into the demand and lead gen planning and strategy. This in turn makes earned media programs more measurable and the ROI clearer.
Finding the Right Strategy (10:11)
It won’t be a PR-first discussion; it will be a strategy-first discussion.
When creating a brand campaign, the starting point is to identify the right go-to market strategy. PR might be part of that strategy, but it won’t be the first part of a strategy. “It will be more about how to activate strategy, rather than how we use PR,” says Hendrick. As a company puts together a go-to marketing plan, it’s paramount to identify the “why” and the “how” first in order to create a solid foundation on which to build a successful campaign.
In other words, why is your product or service vital to your target audience? Who is going to buy your product, what do you know about them, and how does your strategy support them? How will they find your product? An external marketing strategy can include branding, lead gen, content, marketing, events, ads and PR.
Listen to This (10:56)
[How I Built This] talks about the really interesting time right at the outset of a company’s journey, the various mistakes they made and how they overcame them.
Hendrick recommends the award-winning podcast How I Built This hosted by Guy Raz. Each episode tells the stories behind some of the world’s best known companies as told by the entrepreneurs. Guy Raz has interviewed more than 6,000 people, including such well-known names as Richard Branson, Howard Schultz, Melinda Gates, Condoleezza Rice, Jimmy Carter and Al Gore, to name a few.
In 2020 Raz released How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs, based off his podcast.