What’s the value of PR?

Measuring the impact of public relations on an organization has always been difficult. In the past, the accepted practice was to assign an advertising equivalency value to an article. This seems ridiculous today, but there’s still a lot of confusion over how best to measure the value a PR program brings to an organization. Here are a few tips:

Know what you’re measuring. Every organization has a different reason for implementing a PR program. We deal mainly with high-growth B2B companies, and these companies typically need to grow sales or to be positioned for an acquisition. Sometimes organizations have goals to build awareness or to improve their reputation. We always ask about our clients’ marketing goals so we can support those goals with a strong PR program.

Benchmark. Once you understand the goals, you’ll know what to measure. For example, our goal may be to generate leads through the use of PR. Before the PR program begins, it’s important to benchmark lead generation metrics so there is a baseline for comparison. Our benchmark questions would include:

  • How many leads does the company generate monthly?
  • Where do those leads come from?
  • How many leads are inbound vs. outbound?
  • What’s the average value of a sale?
  • How long does it take to close a sale?
  • How many unique visitors do you have to your website monthly?
  • How many Twitter followers do you have?
  • How many Facebook followers do you have?

Measure and report. Once the PR program is operating for an appropriate amount of time, go back to the benchmark and update those metrics with current measurements. We recommend doing this quarterly so PR tactics have enough time to work. Keep track of your progress over time.

Build in measurements. When possible, build in a way to measure everything. Unique URLs are a great way of doing this. Creating unique URLs for links in news releases, for white papers and infographics, and any other marketing material promoted through PR efforts, provides an easy way to measure the effectiveness of those tactics. Whenever possible, ask people how they heard about your organization. This can be done by using online forms and by having your sales reps or switchboard operator ask.

Finally, don’t forget to set goals for deliverables and measure your progress. For example, a deliverable goal might be to place a byline article in a targeted publication once a month, or to gain favorable coverage in your core set of pubs quarterly. If you don’t meet your goals, understanding why can help make your program more successful.

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