On an abstract level, most business leaders understand how important a solid public relations strategy is during a growth phase.
They know it closely relates to the organization’s brand management, marketing, and sales efforts. They also know that being in control of the company’s narrative is a crucial part of maintaining sustainable growth. What’s less understood is how to quantify the tangible impact of a successful PR campaign. More importantly, many executives remain unsure of how to translate the PR experience into the ROI terms that shareholders value so greatly.
Luckily, there are numerous ways to measure the value of PR, and investing resources in a successful campaign will benefit your company in multiple ways. To get the most out of your PR dollars, it’s important to understand specifically how and why you’re gaining value from your efforts. To give your program the best chance of success, use these four best practices:
1. Employ PR strategies to meet goals
The “all press is good press” maxim may work if you’re a fading celebrity hoping to stay in the limelight, but it certainly isn’t applicable to a growing business.
If your PR campaign isn’t related to one or more specific business goals, you’re spending money without a clear sense of how it’s going to affect your organization. To ensure your PR push doesn’t result in a budget drain, focus your resources on action plans that work in service of your definable goals.
For instance, if you’re revamping your PR strategy in an attempt to reach a specific segment of customers who are currently outside of your sphere, it wouldn’t make much sense to pursue general media mentions. Rather, limit your work to trade publications and other targeted media so you can get the right eyes — instead of just any eyes — on your name.
2. Use PR as a microphone for marketing
Cultivating a reputation for thought leadership and sharing engaging content in innovative ways are emerging as important trends in the PR industry.
It makes perfect sense when you consider how closely tied the concepts of PR and content marketing are. Companies are increasingly emphasizing lead generation as a primary outcome of a PR strategy, shifting away from the traditional goal of monetizing media coverage.
PR can be an efficient way to broaden your content’s reach, but if you’re going to push your content to more people, you have to take extra care to ensure it’s always value-added. High-quality content reinforces the idea that your company has something unique and insightful to say and that current and prospective customers should look forward to whatever you publish next.
3. Utilize a more efficient workflow for better customer service
Even the most sound, creative PR campaign is going to struggle to deliver ROI if the team implementing it is hampered by workflow bottlenecks. The way people go about PR work is changing rapidly, which means business leaders need to be able to adapt on the fly if they wish to manage a dynamic PR strategy. Inefficient workflow systems lead to not only frustrated customers but also stressed-out employees — which costs businesses between $200 billion and $300 billion per year.
Stagnation keeps employees from feeling fulfilled by their work, and high turnover rates increase expenses and cripple ROI. To tackle this obstacle, it’s a good idea to map out a plan for improving your workflow — looking at potential bottlenecks one at a time so you can explore the issues in detail. Don’t forget to solicit input from a diverse group of sources so the greatest number of possible outcomes can be accounted for.
4. Continuously improve
PR has to carry its weight, especially in marketing campaigns. Gathering key performance metrics is crucial, yet many people assume it’s enough to simply measure data and call it a day. Measurement serves little purpose if you’re not actively analyzing the results and using them to improve your processes on a consistent basis.
Develop a rubric for evaluating concepts such as reach, visibility, tone, and key message positioning, and collaborate with sales and marketing to link data points to actual revenue. Six percent of companies don’t share their KPIs with employees even though linear growth hinders on teammates working toward the same goals. Most importantly, be honest about the story the data is telling, and don’t hide your head in the sand. If something isn’t working, this is the time to find out and change your approach.
By defining your strategic goals, harmoniously integrating value-added content marketing, removing roadblocks for your team, and using analysis to work smarter, you can accurately determine the value of your next PR campaign.
Photo credit: MichaelJayBerlin/Shutterstock