We are grateful to have spoken with the very accomplished author, entrepreneur, and CEO of Pure Performance Communications, Deirdre Breakenridge. With an esteemed career spanning more than 25 years, Deirdre is internationally sought after for her PR, marketing, branding, and social media expertise. Breakenridge is the author of five Financial Times Press books including: Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations: How Social Media Is Reinventing the Aging Business of PR, and PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences. She’s also the host of the podcast, Women Worldwide, and was awarded the Best 50 Women in Business by NJBIZ in 2015.
Below are the highlights of our conversation where we discussed the integral impact PR, marketing, branding and social media has on businesses and how to communicate that to CFOs and clients. Listen to the full conversation here.
How to Make the CFO Your New Best Friend!
Touching on the topic of one of Deirdre’s past articles, Five Tips to Make the CFO of the Company Your BFF, she explained the obstacles many face when presenting the benefits of PR to a CFO. As a PR professional (or any professional really), in order to get the CFO’s attention, you must…
– Understand the business completely and entirely:
– Know the greater goals of the company.
– Understand the CFO’s language and plan.
– Think about what the C-level cares about: Customer Satisfaction; Marketing Optimization; Revenue Generation; and Productivity.
– Treat the company’s money and budget like it’s your own.
– Research the competitors in the industry.
– Think about the challenges and why you’re called to the table.
– Bring your A Game with innovative thinking to the CFO.
– Mix creativity with fiscal responsibility to make creative fiscal responsibility.
How to Illustrate the Importance of PR and Marketing Investment to Clients
Deirdre asserts that it’s mostly about strategy, and that results will vary in form from campaign to campaign. It’s important to budget for each campaign, establish goals for success, and continually track actual results to what was planned.
Instead of reporting direct numbers (like “this many articles were published” and “this many impressions were made”), present a correlation model. For example: “During a given PR outreach campaign, a certain number of media outlets were reached, which brought a certain amount of traffic to the company’s website.” You can then look at website analytics to see how customers behaved, and how that translated to sales during that period. You need to be able to illustrate why and how the campaign created more impact for the business.
Align strategy with tactical approach and set realistic expectations. Getting clients to understand what you’re going to achieve and setting realistic expectations is paramount. Next, ensure your team is able to present a model that will show the client how to achieve their goals. Then show them how you’re going to measure the results. The objective(s) should be quantified and benchmarked over the duration of the project.
Benchmarking is important in both establishing measurements of success as well as areas to improve in. Without benchmarking, there is no way to determine the success of your campaign. It would be like going on a trip around the world without a compass. Some good examples of benchmarks to measure against include: (a) prior results, (b) current performance, (c) marketing, sales, and web analytics and (d) your competition.
“Listen” to Learn Where to Start (and Succeed) on Social Media
Social media is a big world to jump into, especially if you’re a newbie and have no presence to start with. Deirdre warns to not jump into everything right away. If you’re a small business, you have a limited amount of resources. It may not cost anything to create profiles everywhere, but you’ll then need someone to manage all the activity.
Start small. Where are your customers spending most of their time on social media? Where is your industry being talked about? Where are the conversations related to your brand happening? Is your CEO or other employees being talked about? Where are the people that fall into your target demographics? Most businesses start with Facebook. Linkedin is popular for the B2B audience. Instagram is popular with the millennials. Social media may be trending in certain ways at certain times, but you should only target where your customers are. “Listen” to find out.
The Importance of Social Selling
Social media presence is about awareness that can ultimately lead to sales, but it takes time to build. Deirdre explained that companies are now realizing that when salespeople build their own professional brand, create influence, and are more peer-to-peer in social networks, it’s helping their selling efforts. Salespeople working with their marketing team and building their credibility are expanding their company’s presence at the same time. It’s a win-win.
Where to Start When Fresh Out of School
We had a question from a listener about how to jump into a given industry and make a name for himself when just starting out with little work experience. What’s the best way to network and connect with thought leaders? What’s the best way to differentiate yourself from others just like you in the field?
Deirdre admits it’s a crowded space, and, of course, you want to stand out. Networking is key. Offline and Online. Do your homework. Find the thought leaders in your industry and business. Social media levels the playing field and provides greater opportunities to connect with leaders in any field. Read what they’re writing. Comment. Connect. Go to their speaking engagements if you’re able to. Young professionals regularly connect with Deirdre online and then ask for a 15-20 minute conversation to just talk and learn. She’s always happy to oblige.
Another point to keep in mind when it comes to your first jobs is to find someone you can learn from and don’t be afraid of doing something that’s “beneath you.” Even if the work is administrative or entry-level, you may be able to learn something from the person you’re reporting to. Your first jobs become less relevant to others as you move along in your career. What you learn from those first jobs, or who you meet, is priceless.
A Balancing Act of Asking and Giving
Another question from a listener was about how to turn your network into paying clients and how to approach it without sounding “salesy.” She also wonders if any of it is even appropriate to try.
Deirdre very confidently says that it is appropriate. However, you need to balance the ask with the help. Throughout Deirdre’s career, when able to, she has helped on social media. Whether it be advice or a referral—Deirdre offered anything she could do to assist the person in need. Almost a decade ago she helped someone in a Facebook group by answering questions and directing to other people. It led to a multi-year account for her agency. When you help, it’s a lot easier to then ask. Try Deidre’s formula on your social media participation:
20% about yourself + 5% asking + 75% helping everyone else = Great Success.
Doing good work, providing good advice, referring to good people—all of this will lead to referred customers. Give, and you will get.
Click here to listen to the entire conversation.
Follow Deirdre on line:
Find her on twitter @dBreakenridge
Read her blog at www.deirdrebreakenridge.com
Go to Pure Performance Communications’ website: www.pureperformancecomm.com
Listen to her Women Worldwide podcast
Co-founders & Managing Partners