The Value of PR

Bill Gates may understand the importance of public relations when it comes to running a successful business, but not everyone shares the mogul’s point of view. For many PR pros, it can be difficult to even explain what public relations is to those outside of the industry, so it’s no surprise that our clients (or sometimes even our employers) don’t quite get the value of what we do.

Unlike other professions, those who work in PR don’t always have a clear way to show ROI. You can show a client hundreds of clips, online interactions and community engagement materials, but what are they worth? Advertising value equivalencies don’t quite cut it. Simply stating the number of brochures or newsletters distributed isn’t enough. So, what do we do? How do we prove the value of our work when most results in PR are qualitative rather than quantitative?

There are no fool-proof answers to these questions, but there are a few steps we can take to help measure the success of our PR-related efforts.

  1. Make sure your goals are clear from the beginning, then do a simple evaluation of whether each goal was met. What do you want people to know? What do you want them do? How many media placements do you want to secure?
  2. Look at the quality and quantity of media placements. Consider circulation, tone and message inclusion for each media mention. It is also important to demonstrate trends – show how the company/client is being perceived by the media.
  3. Include social media analytics in the mix. Benchmark your number of followers, reach and engagement before starting a new campaign, then compare the statistics once that campaign is complete (or at another key point).
  4. Add questions about PR tactics to an existing survey, or create a new one for your client that focuses on audience change. Many companies already have a survey that measures consumer behavior. You should be sure that some of the questions and answer options in these surveys are based on the tactics of your PR campaign. For example: When asking a customer why they chose a certain product, include earned media stories (like a feature in a magazine) as a potential answer.

For a more detailed look at measuring the success of PR efforts, check out this report from Ketchum. 

This post was written by PPRA Blog Chair Lauren Cox. Lauren is a Public Relations Specialist in the Office of the CIty Representative, where she works on the City’s major events like the Wawa Welcome America! Festival and the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.