Five lessons from sales on how to dominate public relations

Mar 29, 2016
Five lessons from sales on how to dominate public relations

Sales teams and PR teams share a lot in common, right?

You pitch stories. Sales teams make deals. It’s all selling. And it’s all about building better relationships with our customers, clients or influencers.

So you might be interested to hear that high-performing sales teams are 3.5x more likely to use analytics—to improve those relationships—than underperforming teams.

Which means the slickest, most highly productive teams are the ones embracing technology and optimizing at every turn.

Pretty compelling, don’t you think?

Let’s look at how high performing sales teams work, and at what we can learn from them.

1. Build trust with inbound marketing

Building influencer relationships goes beyond pushing out a press release or picking up the phone.

It’s about building trust, reciprocity—a two-way dialogue.

Sales teams do this in their sleep. They go inbound with guides, free downloads, eBooks—to build authority and skip the cold-calling.

So why don’t PR teams complement their outreach with inbound marketing?

We’re subject matter experts. We know everything about our brand, our sector…what keeps our target audience awake at night.

Which makes us an authority—and a valuable resource for journalists. So use your authority to build an audience. Share your stories online. Build trust.

Because when that happens?  And a journalist calls you for a quote? You just closed a red-hot deal.

2. Structure your process to reduce errors

We learned that structured sales processes are something highly successful organizations have in common.

Turns out, 83% of sales teams use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, as a platform to structure their customer interactions. Yet, I’d guestimate at least 83% of PR teams don’t use anything like it. The majority of teams are still in Excel hell.

Built into a PR model, the benefits of a CRM are clear...

Instant context: everything you need to know about a journalist at the click of your mouse. Deadlines. Press days. Preferred image download methods. The name of their pet monkey.

Which gives you an almighty advantage next time you engage with them.

A public relations CRM stores the stuff that builds RELATIONSHIPS. The single most important focus for any self-respecting PR or sales team.

Plus, no more awkward face palm moments because you sent your fashion story to that tech journo!

3. Evaluate and improve your pipeline

PR teams struggle to demonstrate their value. In desperation, some turn to AVE.

Sales is easy to benchmark. CRM’s spit out reports measuring the status of relationships. Emails, calls, in-person visits. What they’re doing for the bottom line.


PR teams benefit hugely from email tracking. They can monitor who’s engaging with their content. How often they clicked on a link, or downloaded an asset.

Which means they can tweak, personalize and improve their content—using intelligent insight for smarter moves.

4. Go home on time with email automation

Email. Love it, or hate it. We rely on it more than ever.

But when it bottlenecks us: like when we exceed our mailbox capacity, lose a critical email, or waste hours adding assets, again and again…

It’s frustrating, right?

Successful sales teams rely on email—but they’re not handcuffed to their mailboxes. They use tools like Outreach, for seamless email integration, templates and automated follow-ups.

A good public relations CRM brings control to your inbox and saves hours bundling up those fiddly assets.

Type a journalist's name into the system; and every email is forever linked to their record. Which means more effective workflows—and less late nights in the office.

5. Connect more via social media

Wish you could spend more time on social media? Find out what journalists are talking about?

If only there were enough hours in the day.

Tools such as FullContact gather intricate data about your contacts and prospects and deliver it straight in your inbox. (Editor's Note: Cough cough, Muck Rack can help with this, too!)

Sales teams listen to countless conversations, then tailor their strategies to fit.

Imagine this level of insight into your own influencers? To dive into what hundreds of journalists are talking about—right now?  You can pitch instantly, or respond with a super-helpful snippet.

Re-examine your processes

Given fast-moving times, intense competition and increased media diversity—what succeeded for you in the past, is unlikely to work going forwards.

The winning PR teams of tomorrow will be those who step out of their comfort zone and re-examine their processes.

Then wholeheartedly embrace the right tools.

Frederik Vincx is a co-founder at Prezly. He is an innovation advisor for communication teams. Loved and relied upon by some of the world’s best PR teams—Prezly is the smart, simple tool that brings the fun back into stakeholder relations, while improving your workflow and supercharging your results.

Photos via: ShutterstockHubspotPrezly ,

About the author

Pro bono social service designer. Building a warmer winter of our lives.

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