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Google Helpouts: An Opportunity for PR to Directly Generate Leads

Google officially launched another service in the company’s ongoing quest to make information accessible: Google Helpouts.

At March Communications, we occasionally use the older cousin of Helpouts – Google Hangouts – to arrange virtual, face-to-face meetings between clients and journalists or analysts. March works primarily with tech companies and, since there’s some research stating that Google+ is the most popular social channel among CIOs, I was very interested to dig a little deeper into Helpouts to explore their potential in the work we do for our clients.

Essentially, Google’s latest venture is an educational Hangout. Participants get together via webcam and connect to have a virtual, face-to-face discussion. Helpouts are all about knowledge sharing. They are basically virtual one-on-one sessions that cover every topic imaginable – whether you want to repair a sink, learn Python or get better at guitar.

Most Helpout sessions are cheap, if not free, and it’ll be interesting to see whether prices are pushed further down or some experts end up making the bulk of the money. There’s no doubt that this is an experiment in how knowledge is transmitted. Can everyone be a rock guitarist? Is every single person a budding programmer?

The question on my mind, of course, is how Google Helpouts could build brand awareness for clients, or act as a new sales or marketing tool for tech businesses.

Driving Leads Straight to the Source

Imagine if a PR firm arranges a speaking submission for the marketing executive of a prominent tech company. The company has just released a new product that helps with Big Data analytics. The exec gives the speech and a few interested parties approach him afterwards.

Does the exec give out a case study? A business card? Maybe he directs prospects to a website with an eBook that asks for an email address.

But what if the exec says that the prospect could get a one-on-one session that goes into more depth about the topic? By pushing prospects toward a Google Helpout session, either with the exec himself or a sales rep, a new funnel could be built.

PR could help build the reputations of the people behind those Google Helpouts through speaking submissions, press releases and bylines. Calls-to-actions could be completely changed – rather than telling readers to go to a landing page, PR pros could recommend setting up an appointment via Google Helpouts with the person who wrote the byline.

When it comes to building brand awareness, there could even be brand evangelists who offer free education sessions on Google Helpouts, whether they offer advice on social media, inbound marketing or product launch strategies.

Google+ is making headway in the tech community in particular and that popularity will help buoy tech-related Google Helpouts. While the new product is barely week old, experts are already offering paid and unpaid sessions about a diversity of topics. When PR firms and their clients get on board, it will be interesting to see what kinds of creative opportunities emerge for both businesses and customers.

This article originally appeared on The Publicity Club of New England’s blog.