What PR and Sales Have in Common
By Makoto Shirai
The Hoffman Agency, Japan
During my 15-year working career, one-third of that time has been spent in the IT business and rest at a PR agency. Having spent so much time in both fields, I’ve developed a personal sense on what it takes to be a successful PR/marketing professional.
You see, I partly consider my job to be in sales. That’s because the mindset for PR and sales is very similar.
A salesperson – like a PR pro – is required to have:
– Excellent communications skills, both externally and internally
– Deep understanding of products or solutions
– Knowledge of market/industry trends
– Sensitivity to numbers
Acquiring or developing each of these skills is not easy; additionally, it can be difficult for us to focus on one specific customer or industry at a time.
I realize that many PR professionals tend to think that their activities are more important than those of others. While PR and marketing functions are very important, PR professionals cannot work effectively without cooperating with other professionals or organizations. Sometimes we must pay attention or look at the counterpart’s point of view, especially those who do not know about the functions or purpose of PR or marketing.
I learned this when I held an in-house PR position. The company had around 10 thousand employees and most people did not understand PR. So I had to explain the importance of the PR role internally as much as I could. It wasn’t easy, but I was able to build many relationships with different departments. Later on these relationships helped me a great deal. For instance, I could easily find the right person for a press interview.
The bottom line is when you think about PR, you will definitely be able to relate it to marketing, investor relations and analyst relations. However, try to think of the PR role as partly a sales role. That may help you imagine the business world or clients’ needs more widely and deeply.