Once upon a time, PR was regarded as the ‘fluffy stuff’. The wispy, round the edges activity that wasn’t quite tangible. You said PR to people and they immediately thought of champagne chugging, late lunching, PR darlings with little to no concern for ROI. To be fair to the professionals of old, that wasn’t ever really the case. You can thank ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ for that somewhat unfair portrayal! Nowadays of course, savvy business owners understand that Public Relations – done properly – plays a vital role in building a brand’s presence in its desired market and generating trust and credibility amongst consumers.
So, what about ROI? That’s ‘Return on Investment’ in case you haven’t heard of it before. Is it really possible to put a value on PR activity? And who is responsible for doing so? It’s a question that we get asked a lot when brands are in the process of working with us – understandably so. The answer comes in two parts.
The PR prof’s responsibility
Firstly, there’s the measurement and reporting that any PR company can do for the brands they work with. It’s worth saying that if any agency tries to tell you that they can’t measure results, we recommend showing them the door. In an age of online media, social influencers and Google Analytics, tracking your activity and measuring its effectiveness is very doable. In fact, it’s a powerful exercise when it comes to refining messaging and maximising the impact of your campaigns.
Perhaps an article you secure in an online news outlet is embraced by the audience and shared repeatedly on social media. Or an outlet values your content enough to include a link and signpost its readers to your website. This measurable activity shows you that your messaging is hitting the mark and where your time and effort may be well spent in the future.
Some tangible measurements that your PR agency should be reporting for you include:
- Tone of voice of any article (positive, negative or neutral)
- Tier of outlet – local, regional or national and the relevance to your brand of each
- Social media shares and interactions (comments, likes etc.)
- Inclusion of backlinks to your website or campaign-specific landing pages
- Audience reach in both print and online media
- Estimated coverage views of online articles.
The brand’s responsibility
The second part of the answer is sometimes less popular with business owners because it involves turning the spotlight on your own internal systems and processes. In a nutshell, we can track activity to your own front door and, then, it’s over to you.
In order to make the most of your PR activity, you need to know what happens to enquiries, leads and visitors when they reach your brand. Your website, your social media platforms and even your telephone and email systems. You also need to know how many or what value to place on a conversion – whether that be a franchise sale or a product or service purchase. Only then can you truly understand your ROI. Obviously, every brand, and its sales pipeline, is unique but there are some simple things you can do to start tracking and benchmarking your PR in-house.
- Ensure Google Analytics is properly set up for your website and track visitor numbers and their journey in the days surrounding PR coverage
- Utilise back-end reporting tools on social media platforms to monitor demographics of engaging users
- Manually check with telephone enquirers where they heard about your product, service or franchise – a really powerful tool that very few people use anymore!
- Monitor downloads of collateral from campaign-specific landing pages
- For transactional business, track purchases of products for spikes in the days after coverage is secured.
We love a KPI here at TeamRev and provide detailed scorecards and coverage books to all of our clients with bespoke reporting.