The big value of PR and buzz is brand-building NOT instant downloads or sales

Media coverage and social media buzz DO sometimes deliver an instant spike in traffic and downloads – but their primary value is, unlike performance marketing, not as an immediate sales channel or driver. That CAN be the benefit but is not the main goal.

Their main goal is instead brand-building, awareness, familiarity – and gradually educating your target customers to “know, like and trust” you as a result of seeing and hearing your name repeatedly over time.

Marketing theory says that PR and buzz are best viewed as one of the earlier “touch-points” in the “customer journey” – and the cumulative process of getting consumers to know and trust you enough to buy.

It advises that you typically need an average of seven, eight or nine such touch-points before your customer is ready to buy. The traditional marketing “Rule of seven” puts the number at seven but more recent studies by Google suggest that target customers need 11 interactions with a brand before they trust it enough to purchase.

Marketing theory also classifies PR, guerrilla marketing and buzz as forms of “demand generation” – as opposed to “demand capture” and immediate conversion – and says that the ROI on investment in demand generation will typically take nine+ months to show up in the pipeline and revenue.

Precisely how many such customer touch-points you need before your target customer will download or buy will in practice also depend on factors such as product-market fit, while the speed and extent to which traffic converts to instals will also depend on factors such as UX and design.

The role of PR and buzz is not therefore to drive instant downloads, for which paid acquisition is a more reliable tool. Then again, even with paid acquisition, which IS meant to generate instant sales, target consumers often have to see, say, a Facebook, Instagram or Google ad six or seven times before they buy.

(The other problem with paid marketing is that, yes, it can be powerful accelerant, which is also pleasingly measurable, but it can also become not just a commodity, where the brand with the most cash wins, but also ultimately an addiction with ever rising costs and diminishing returns.)

PR’s role, as a recent post on, a media monitoring and measurement tool, put it – is  “to build brand awareness, increase trust and attract the right kind of traffic:

“While Google Analytics provides information about your organization’s own website, it offers limited worth as a measurement tool for public relations.”

“The principal goal of PR is typically not to increase website traffic.

“PR’s main goal is usually to build brand awareness, increase trust and attract the right kind of traffic.”

PR and paid social ads work hand in hand – and complement each other 

PR will help bring general awareness around your brand, but it does so in a very different way to paid ads.

PR will impact brand awareness, familiarity and relevance but – unlike paid ads – it will not typically provoke a direct response (even though it occasionally does).

But it should, as mentioned, complement, support and enhance paid ads.


PR is also valuable at two stages at least of “sales funnel”

1. At the top of the sales funnel, in the form of raw “Awareness”

This means that lots of people will, as a result of this coverage, convert from never having heard of your brand to now having heard of it – and, indeed, noticing that it’s doing lively, interesting things.

A proportion of these people will also as a result of this coverage, either check our your site, either by Googling it or, when there is a link, then via the link.

2. In the middle of the sales funnel, at the stage of “Consideration” … 

… which means that when potential customers are, say, considering and choosing between different suppliers, they are, according to marketing theory, more likely to choose the one they’ve heard of and been reading about and which sounds familiar than the one(s) they’ve never heard of.

PR is valuable at both the top of the sales funnel, when it comes to creating awareness, and also in the middle of the funnel, when it comes to consideration and evaluation.