PR and return on investment

For years the PR sector has been beating itself up about the need to evaluate its impact properly. Media evaluation companies the world over have come up with various different metrics, aimed at measuring the value of PR. This is all very well but the key is surely how companies should measure the impact of PR, and whatever way you split this, that means you’ve got to measure return on investment (ROI). i.e.: number of widgets sold. I can hear your sighs from here. It’s not that easy. How can you measure the impact of PR relative to other areas of the marcomms mix? Well, 2 answers to that. Firstly, other areas of the marcomms mix do. DM and advertising turn up to their meeting with the FD with their conversion per cost figure. Meanwhile the PR guy, in the main, sits there in an embarrassing silence. Outwardly smiling, but inwardly nervous. Its true – the ROI gained from PR is more difficult to measure than other areas (although I’d argue it’s no more difficult than printed advertising) but it’s far from impossible. What is true however, is that when a company makes an investment decision about where it spends its hard earned budget, the direct marketing and advertising guys will say I can give you this much ROI per £1000s cost. If the PR guy then just shrugs their shoulders, and says “don’t know guv but we’ll have fun trying” - 8/10 it’s not going to be the Comms Director walking out of the room with the budget. Feel free to tell us how you’ve successfully measured ROI for PR....
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