Now, so that no one jumps to the wrong conclusion (because we all know how wild those histotech conventions can get), let me explain. The mix I’m talking about in this case is the often tumultuous marriage of public relations, marketing, new media and sales. (Yes. I said the “s” word.) And how one of my clients is combining all four disciplines to generate awareness about his company’s healthcare solutions.
My client, Ralph Moher, Vice President of Marketing for General Data Company (www.general-data.com), is a traditional marketing and PR guy, but he understands that to be successful in today’s cluttered media market, you cannot be afraid to experiment with new media to generate positive brand awareness AND sales leads, especially for a predominantly business-to-business (B2B) company. Typically, we see new media being used to hock business-to-consumer (B2C) products, such as MP3 players and cell phones. In Ralph’s case, however, the objective isn’t to sell a product directly to consumers, but rather generate awareness of his company’s bar code-based data collection and identification solutions among histotechnology professionals.
Histotechs are the men and women who work laboriously in laboratories throughout the world to examine tissue specimens for possible diseases, cancers and the like. Pretty important folks, don’t you think? General Data works with major hospitals and clinics around the country to integrate General Data’s bar code-based solutions with existing laboratory processes to Identify and track tissue specimens as they are analyzed. In Ralph’s case, he is leveraging his recently launched Healthcare blog to generate awareness for his company at the National Society for Histotechnology (NSH) Symposium/Conference (www.nsh.org), a prominent healthcare convention for histotechnologists, in Pittsburgh, PA, Sep. 12 — 18.
Take a look at Ralph’s blog at www.general-data.com/Blogs/Post.aspx?id=35. You’ll see at least one entry from a peer congratulating Ralph for his efforts at “getting personal with the Internet community” from the healthcare/laboratory arena. By the way, before launching this effort, Ralph did run his idea past the NSH organizers, and they gave him an exuberant thumbs up. And now he’s attracting attention from industry media. Way to go, Ralph!
What do Ralph’s current “live blogging” efforts have to do with how public relations, marketing, new media and sales can (and should) work together to achieve an organization’s promotional and sales objectives…?
Don’t be afraid of the “s” word
Admittedly, it took me years to see the honor and virtue in sales. It took me even longer to call myself a salesperson. But now that I’m in my seventh year in business as a PR professional and entrepreneur, I finally see the light. Sales is a necessity for any business. I think the apprehension many “creatives” and other professionals have toward calling themselves salespeople is that everyone still envisions salespeople as smarmy used car guys in plaid-patterned leisure suits who lurk around the lot waiting to pounce on the first hapless browsers they see. (My apologies to any used car salespeople reading this entry; I’ve bought several used cars in my time. Happily, still driving one.)
The fact is…sales is a profession like any other. And a sophisticated one, at that. Today, more than ever, salespeople are searching for the right tools to help them get an edge on their competition. To find those golden egg customers before their rivals do. And to do it all with the least bit of interruption to their core function–selling! Enter that other very sophisticated profession that many salespeople consider a necessary evil to enable them to do their jobs–marketing. Save a very few exceptions, the two cannot exist without each other, especially as the old guard salespeople begin to retire and the numbing practice of cold calling is abandoned by more and more professionals for softer “relationship building” methods. And so, sales and marketing continue to coexist as unapologetic partners.
But one increasingly critical member of this exclusive club continues to be overlooked–PR!
PR tells your story
Most salespeople and many businesses simply don’t get PR. They come to view PR, whether it be through books, movies, articles, or word-of-mouth anecdotes that continue to dance through the either, as the fluff stories we read in consumer magazines and watch during the last 5 minutes of the evening network newscast. What they don’t understand and what they continue to dismiss, especially in the more conservative markets, is that today’s environment of fast-food information served up almost instantaneously via websites, blogs (like this one), podcasts, e-newsletters, etc. fosters PR.
Consumers are more sophisticated today than even five years ago, and they can identify an ad over more credible sources. They also crave real-time information like never before. And they want it at their fingertips 24/7. This hankering for news and views of all varieties offers up a bounty of opportunity for businesses and public relations professionals. And from a B2B perspective, this new environment in many ways makes it even easier for companies to gear their messages at specific audiences.
Finally, one critical lesson I’ve learned is that every consumer–B2B or B2C–wants to hear the story behind the product they’re about to buy. And if they buy that product, it is typically because they liked the story…or the storyteller.
That’s exactly what Ralph is doing today–telling his story.
By the way, this entry is also the inaugural posting to my new blog, which I’ve created to examine and discuss some of the most and least successful public relations and grassroots marketing efforts happening today, from both a B2B and a B2C perspective. Fair warning! I will likely feature case studies from my own business involving current clients, as I have done with General Data Company above. Sorry if that appears self promotional, but it allows me to feed the blog and still make time to get some work done. Besides, I am in the business of promoting, after all. And it’s the best way for me to tell my story.