Last week I violated the rules of the Network of PR Professionals LinkedIn group.

I didn’t mean to, but, according to the group “rules,” you can only post things in there that are about traditional PR.

But I posted the summary of Marcus Sheridan’s webinar about the types of content you can create to generate leads. And, because the blog post said “generate inbound leads” instead of “attract Web site visitors” or “increase brand awareness,” I broke the rules.

You see, I believe a few things:

  1. Public relations (not publicity) can and should be measured to sales results;
  2. Public relations professionals need to gain some basic marketing skills or our industry will become defunct;
  3. Public relations is the very best place for content development because we are, after all, writers; and
  4. Really good content does more than attract Web site visitors or increase brand awareness – it generates inbound leads for the sales team.

If you know me well, you know that my being scolded over breaking the rules of any kind is mortifying to me. So, I apologized, said I understood the rules, and that I wouldn’t do it again.

But the conversation didn’t end there.

The email’s author said:

I agree with you that generating content – especially in the digital age – is a primary function of any PR department or campaign. Really good marketing copy is essential for any organization that wishes to engage with visitors to its Web site, blog, Facebook page, etc., and get them to bite on various calls-to-action within the content.

But marketing in not PR. An ideal PR objective specifies desired outcomes within target publics, such as increased knowledge and/or awareness, or changed opinions, attitudes, and behavior. None of these are sales functions.

So here we are – a traditional PR guy and me at an impasse.

I grew up in the traditional PR world, so I get it. But I also see some big changes coming in our industry. Changes that mean companies will work only with agencies and consultants who can measure their work to sales results.

As much as I love the work I’ve always done, it’s impossible to measure “increased knowledge and/or awareness, or changed opinions, attitudes, and behavior” to revenue. Sure, we know intuitively that it works and we also know that, without PR, a brand or company will suffer because there are no communication about it.

But it can’t be measured. Not in a hard numbers kind of way.

Integrated traditional PR, digital media, and some basic marketing, though, can be measured. Sometimes in as little as 60 days.

So should creating content that generates inbound leads be left to the marketing folks because their function is to help sales? Or can PR be responsible for it, as well?

If it’s the latter, what’s the harm in discussing it with our peers around the world, via a LinkedIn group, so we all become better professionals that know how to change with the times?

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich