Setting New Benchmarks for PR’s Value
By: Tiffany Guarnaccia
The old ways of evaluating processes and protocols simply fall short in this ever-changing industry. Consider these three approaches to keep pace with evolving messaging demands.
Marketing has long been a metrics-based discipline. It’s time for PR to catch up.
The early tactics and processes previously used to measure PR campaigns, such as the use of AVEs, no longer accurately measure PR campaigns today. With 2020 on the horizon, more business leaders will question the real value of PR. As an industry, we need to advance the conversation or watch our PR budgets shrink.
Here are three ways to look at metrics and measurement:
1. Align PR goals with business goals.
Too often PR goals are created in a vacuum and are not deeply aligned with what a business really needs to accomplish. When startups come to my agency, their goal is often to “get more press.” That can be the program outcome, but that’s not where to start.
Instead, start with their annual business goals and then break those goals down quarterly. Once you have a deep understanding of the client’s quarterly business goals, develop actionable PR goals against them.
For example, if the company is focused on M&A activity in the next 12 to 18 months, focus on the messaging and positioning that will set the company apart, catching the eye of potential buyers, and then use it as a roadmap for communications to both internal and external stakeholders.
2. Advance your metrics.
What used to be the common, textbook tools for PR professionals to measure and justify their PR strategy just isn’t enough anymore. Go beyond measuring the number of media placements to look at metrics that align with your PR and business goals.
Was your stated business goal to sell more widgets, and your PR goal to oust the No. 1 widget seller online? Consider measuring your client’s share of voice against their competition. A resource like Signal A.I. can provide real-time insights for media monitoring and market intelligence, as well as analyze sentiment. This can help highlight any results that your company is getting, as well as measuring the value of the earned media secured.
Was your business goal to introduce a new product to the market and drive sales? PR efforts that announced the product and/or highlighted how it is being used by clients can help to drive interest and can be measured not only by coverage quality but also by direct in-bound leads. I’ve had clients attribute million-dollar deals to product-focused PR efforts.
3. Remember that PR is not just about earned media.
The above points relate to a more traditional view of PR that is centered on earned media. As the PR industry evolves, smart agencies are shifting their offerings to include services well beyond media relations.
For instance, firms that offer integrated communications campaigns that include content marketing, social media or experiential activations can provide more advanced metrics. This allows PR firms to demonstrate value well beyond a media hit and showcase how PR efforts can drive sales leads.
Regardless of how you look at metrics, don’t look at them once, but instead develop them over time and take an agile approach. Compare results year over year, quarter over quarter, and so on. Looking at how earned media evolves can help to identify gaps and ultimately inform your overall planning and strategy. Coupling this analysis with your business goals can result in a winning formula.
By the year 2020, PR is projected to have $19.3 billion in revenue worldwide. By adopting these important strategies to understand the value of PR, business leaders can ensure their PR investment won’t go to waste. The industry is evolving; it’s time for us to evolve with it.