Does Publicity Increase Sales?

The first question manufacturers always ask about publicity is, Will it increase my sales? 

Quantifying the reach and impact of publicity is – to mix a metaphor – like herding greased cats.  You can’t ever know who reads what, and you usually can’t know how much that exposure may or may not contribute to a decision to look more closely at a product, eventually leading to a sale. 

Most of what we know about publicity is anecdotal.  Here’s another anecdote on the pile:

We worked with a client on a technical article that was published in August, 2008.  A few months later, we received a request from a university professor to use that article – it concerned certain metallurgical phenomena -  in his engineering course.  He said it was the best explanation he had ever found of those phenomena.  We all patted ourselves on the back… and continued wondering if publicity influences sales?

Yesterday, we had lunch with that same client (who is now requesting our ideas for launching three new products) and he mentioned that he still gets calls because of that article, nearly two years later.

Yes, the evidence is that good publicity positively influences sales.  It doesn’t make sales – your sales force still needs to do that – but it generates sales leads.  Due to the persistent nature of both print and online copies of magazines, publicity stays around for a long time.  It is read when it’s news, and thanks to the power of search engines like Google and Yahoo, it is referenced as it gets older. (And after publication, you can put it on your own website, to ensure that it’s always available.)  As journalism, it has a certain credibility that ads do not.  And it provides a chance to tell a story and make a case in a way that no other marketing format really offers.

And did I mention it influences sales?