Does PR really make a difference?

Andrew Hodson, Marketing and Communications Director at ICON talks about how Avril Chaffey PR helped in the company's transition from an established UK signage and display company to a world leader in event look and feel programmes.

Starting from PR support for a simple product launch in January 2008 the PR support evolved with the company's own growth and development. ICON now operates on the global stage and in the last couple of years has been responsible for Look, Feel, Wayfinding and City Dressing at London 2012, UEFA Euro 2012, FIFA Confederations Cup 2013, as well as a number of innovative corporate events and product launches.

In 2014 its expertise is being put to good use for both the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Q: Looking back to the early days, January 2008, why did you think the company needed PR?

A: We were building the brand and wanted to adopt a policy of regular PR to communicate our successes with an emphasis on how these experiences could benefit our clients. Also, and very basically, just to expand our outreach and get us in front of a wider audience.

Q: Why did you choose to invest in PR rather than advertising and/or trade shows and exhibitions?

A: Our area of operation is quite specific and we never really found that advertising and exhibitions had any significant impact on our sales and marketing efforts. By strategically targeting and timing our PR we felt we could get a much better (ROI) return on investment.

Q: How has the PR contributed to the growth of the company and its success in a more diverse range of markets? Can you put a monetary value on it or attribute any specific sales leads to articles/comments that appeared in the press?

A: We can't directly attribute any particular win or burst of interest to PR - but then again we never expected to. I think all you can do is look at the growth of the company - both geographically and financially - during this time and say that our PR must have played some role in this success. PR is about awareness and making it easier for our outgoing teams to break the ice with new contacts.

Q: Six years is a long time to stay with one supplier, what made you stay? quality of writing, media knowledge & contacts, value for money, delivering a consistent level of service or anything else?

A: All of the above! I will be honest and admit that we did look at others during that time, but never found anybody who could compete on the combination of service and price.  Also, taking into account the unique nature of our business, we needed somebody who had developed familiarity with us and what we do and could understand our market, aims and objectives.

Q: How has PR helped in unifying the different companies under the ICON banner?

A: We have been able to use it as a device to publicise the coming together of our diverse businesses both internally and externally. By involving the staff in what we've been saying to our customers, there's a feeling of understanding and involvement in the company's development.

For more information on ICON visit

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