By Patrick Southwell:
Whenever someone mentions leads to me, I’m instantly taken back to 1998, watching The Big Lebowski, one of the funniest films ever. Jeff Lebowski, aka “The Dude”, has his car stolen. It’s found (after having been slept in by a vagrant). The police give him a call to come and collect the beaten-up old banger. Keen to know if the culprit can be found, he asks the officer, “You got any promising uh, leads, man?”
The cop starts to giggle. “Leads, yeah sure. I'll uh, just check with the boys down at the crime lab. They got four more detectives working on the case. They've got us working in shifts.” By this point, he’s cracking up. “Leads!” he shouts in mirth, mocking The Dude.
Not so long ago, this might have been the same response agencies gave their clients when asked about leads. While they might not have been quite as dismissive as the Cohens’ police character, there certainly wasn’t a wholehearted response.
But, of course, things have changed. For years, the role of PR has been under pressure to generate a commercial outcome. We get asked all the time how to ensure campaigns generate leads. The response? An integrated approach where a compelling asset is at the heart of everything and then all channels point back to it.
Media relations and the resulting coverage is just one of those channels and its primary function is probably more likely to be awareness rather than leads. But if a prospect reads that coverage and is perhaps also targeted with a LinkedIn post (supported by a paid strategy), sees someone else sharing the story, receives an email about it and notices a podcast on the topic, they’re more likely to click on a link directing them to the compelling content it’s all based on. And to download it, all they have to do is enter their details.
Hey presto – a lead.
I’m sure this isn’t rocket science for B2B marketers. In fact, I know it isn’t – our clients have been doing this stuff for years. And all their competitors.
The real question, therefore, shouldn’t be, “How can PR generate leads?” But, “What content is good enough to fuel an integrated campaign and interest people enough to download it in exchange for contact details?”
That, my friends, is where the magic lies. In creating something simple, compelling, immediate and attention-grabbing. Headlines for the content must suggest disaster, failure or unknown challenges on the horizon.
So next time you ask a PR agency if they can generate leads, be ready for a response that might be more content than coverage-driven.
Hopefully, you won’t be subjected to the mocking laughter and sarcastic comments that The Dude was. And if you are, you know where to come.
“Leads! Woo… Leads! Aw man… leads!!!!”