The Placement Crash – The Failure of PR in the Conversation World

By Room 214     |     July 31, 2006

Traditional public relations yields a common problem I call the “Placement Crash,” which is like a sugar crash in business. You get a brief “high” of publicity, which bottoms out fast and leaves you with no lasting benefit.

Here’s how it works: Imagine that you land one big “media hit,” such as a Business Week article mentioning your company. This publicity lures volumes of new visitors to your web site.

…That’s great, IF your PR firm, online communications expert, or anyone in your marketing department planned ahead of time to Capture the Conversation during and after peak traffic to drive sales or solidify new business relationships.

Most companies – including yours, probably – don’t do that. Therefore, much of that wonderful web traffic gets wasted.

New visitors click away if you don’t engage them immediately. Every time that happens, your PR/marketing team is costing you an opportunity.

Don’t blame them, however. They’re just doing the job they’ve been trained to do. Unfortunately it’s only half the job that really needs to be done.

Most PR/marketing professionals are trained to attract attention (as media coverage), but not to turn attention into real results.

The key to truly successful media relations involving online media (such as your site) is to track sales, generate new leads, and – most importantly – engage in a meaningful conversation with new prospects.

Great media exposure does offer tremendous value. However, by itself it’s just not enough. You must also engage prospects and follow through. Fortunately, the Internet makes that easier than ever. Here’s how:

1. Make your site easy to find via a simple search in popular search engines such as Google.
2. Provide immediate access to critical decision-making information, presented using the customer’s perspective and language.
3. Use simple tools to nurture and follow online conversations, such as weblogs and forums. The content of these tools also becomes findable through online searches, widening your reach.

PR that clearly boosts the bottom line. Imaging this scenario: a new DNA testing company gains exposure on a leading national morning show. Before an audience of millions, the show’s anchor takes the test and discusses the health implications of genes and diet.

Of those millions of viewers, thousands visit the DNA testing company’s web site. When they arrive on the home page, they see a prominent link: “Learn more about our test featured on [name of show].” Beneath that, there’s an invitation to register to attend an upcoming free teleseminar with the company’s lead scientist, who will answer questions about the test and the science behind it.

Imagine that 700 people attend the teleseminar, and 200 of them purchased the test, yielding more than $40,000 dollars in sales!

Isn’t that a much better way to justify PR, compared to traditional monthly billing reports that attempt to justify the PR budget with antiquated, fuzzy measures such as Ad Value Equivalency?

A results-focused PR team can confidently state quantifiable, bottom-line results. That will get any executive’s attention – and respect.

I first introduced the The Placement Crash in the article Fire Your PR Firm, published in June, 2006. To view the extended original article visit

For the above scenario, we would use the following tools to capture the offline exposure and drive teleseminar traffic and track sales conversions:
Google Analytics – to track site visitor statistic, teleseminar sign ups and sales conversions
MovableType or WordPress – blog platforms to continue the conversation
AWeber – form capture and contact database application
AskDatabase – survey teleseminar participants on the top questions they would like answered
ReadyTalk – conferencing service, record as MP3 for playback or podcast.

About Room 214

Room 214 is a social media agency focused on social media and digital marketing solutions for iconic brands. Our services include business intelligence, social strategy, application development and video production.

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