PR and sales – cut from the same cloth?

I think we are. And I say that with complete sincerity. (Pause for the sound of people throwing things.)

I actually think our profession has a lot more in common with sales than with marketing.

For the record, I grew up in sales. My dad owned a couple of fabric and drapery stores in Winnipeg. And watching him go about his business, I learned that the best sales people, like the best public relaters, are all about two-way relationships. Listening. Helping. Telling a story well and truthfully. Being social. Engendering trust.

Now that’s not to say we’re completely altruistic. Like any business we’re goal-oriented. But we don’t create visuals that do nothing but dazzle, sweep you off your feet with sweepstakes or deliver direct mail directly to the circular file.

Sure there are stereotypical images of high pressure salesman – hucksters – who see you as nothing more than a commission. The same holds true for certain PR people – call them hypesters – who’ll stoop to anything to get their client’s name ‘in the press’. Both types give their respective professions a bad name.

But have you ever sat in a room full of great sales folks and listened to them swap stories? You really get a sense that they like and respect their customers/clients, and will go out of their way to help.

And if they’re really good, they know they won’t always win or hear the answer they want. But that doesn’t matter. They’re in it for the long haul.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it.

So… sales and PR – cut from the same cloth, as the son-of-a-fabric-man might say. What do you think of that?


3 thoughts on “PR and sales – cut from the same cloth?

  1. Interesting idea. Certainly it seems to me that PR is more about building relationships than marketing and, in that regard, is close to sales (the good kind). Also, I've always thought that, making calls to journalists to pitch stories was a little like sales calling and certainly requires the same thickness of skin. Now that things are changing and pure publicity is not such a big part of our profession (thankfully), who will be left standing? I suspect those who have taken the time to build relationships.

  2. Very interesting insight. I think we do a disservice, however, when we keep trying to carve up the difference between marketing, PR, sales and [throw in kitchen sink here]. Peter Drucker said it best and simplest – The purpose of a business is to create a customer.I often say that the purpose of all marketing disciplines is to a) keep the customers you have and b) to get more. At the end of the day, every discipline should be focused on if and how it supports a business' ability to create and keep a profitable customer. We can call it whatever we wish, but if all disciplines kept that purpose at its center we'd all get along better – and produce FAR better results.

  3. Thanks for your thoughts. I guess it all comes back to relationships and a customer-centred approach. Or, as my Dad used to say, 'the customer is always right'.

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