"PR is an insanely valuable activity in early-stage companies," wrote venture capitalist Mark Suster on his popular blog for startups.

The problem is that most companies focused on growth are almost allergic to public relations: It takes a ton of time, it doesn't easily lend itself to metrics, and the people who work in PR are often big picture, strategic—or, if you'd rather, "fuzzy"—thinkers.

In other words, PR people don't fit easily into the world of the bootstrapped or venture-backed growth company.

Yet, founders and investors alike will acknowledge that a company's perceived lack of credibility is one of the silent killers of great sales opportunities: Big potential clients can circle and circle, but they are famously risk-averse. In this era of transparency, social proof, and infinite-pages-on-Forbes, a company that doesn't have great coverage or exposure is almost questionable—and that's enough to kill big deals.

Public relations and sales are perfect companions

Fortunately, with the right technology and tracking, public relations is the perfect support to a natural lead nurturing process. PR creates enough credibility so that you can...

  1. Encourage starter customers to grow into enterprise customers
  2. Reassure existing investors with social traction
  3. Attract new investors for your next round
  4. Build your qualified site traffic and Alexa score all at once

Here are four simple ways you can use public relations to enhance your sales—and track it.

1. Build qualified traffic through social media

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image of Lisa Calhoun

Lisa Calhoun is founder of tech public relations firm Write2Market, recently recognized among the Top 100 Agencies in the US. She blogs at How You Rule the World.

LinkedIn: Lisa Calhoun

Twitter: @lisa_calhoun