How do you measure the value of PR?

Everyone wants to feel like that they job they do has value. If you do not feel valued at your job then you are going to feel like the work you do is unappreciated and become discouraged. However, what is the definition of value?

According to Mark Weiner, CEO of Prime Research, proving the value of public relations remains one of the most difficult tasks because the word “value” is so subjective.

In his blog post, Proving the Value of Public Relations, Mark discusses three main ways that PR practitioners choose to measure their value.

Some PR practitioners use objectives and other measurable goals for clients to measure their success based on how well they achieved what they set out to do.

Second, Mark states that some believe there is only one best way to measure the value of PR, which is through strictly numerical means by seeing an increase in sales or the amount of media clippings.

Finally, according to Mark there are those who embody the relationship builder, through listening to our clients and understanding what they want we can better serve their needs. Instead, sometimes we get too caught up with reaching specific goal or number of media clippings that we forget why we are doing the work we are doing in the first place, for our client.

According to Mark, “Ideally, PR professional and client align themselves around and through a value-system which is meaningful, measurable and reasonable, and which satisfies our professional standards for what public relations is and what it is not…without risk and without rancor.”

It is clearly important to have a measurable sense of value in any profession, but I think that measuring value in PR is more complex than in other fields. If you just measure the number of media clippings or an increase in sales, then how are you supposed to know if you have been successful in building any new relationships?

I personally think that each campaign and client is unique and that there is no set way to measure the value of PR, because PR has a different value in each campaign.

What do you think the value of PR is? In your opinion what is the best way to measure the value of PR? Should there be an overall standard of how to measure the value?

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7 Responses to How do you measure the value of PR?

  1. astrazzara says:

    I agree that companies get lost sometimes in the numerical value of the campaign. I think that a campaign more than an end point. It should be about building long-term goals for the company. Don’t get caught up with scoring a cover story in a month but building trust among key stakeholders. Numbers don’t necessarily show that a campaign was successful. If a company has 1,000 followers on a Twitter, but the members don’t have an active conversation with the company then it’s almost pointless. Whereas if you have 250 fans who love the company and contribute ideas and suggestions it has more value.

  2. ekozak says:

    Although I believe relationship building is one of the most important aspects of any public relations campaigns, it is very difficult to return to a client with news that you now have relationships with 5 or 500 or 5000 stakeholders. Unfortunately, your relationships do not necessarily translate to an increase in the bottom line.

    That is why I have seen some companies implement a value system based on determining the advertising cost of editorial placements. This gives a tangible value to the media placements secured, but it is useless in regard to objectives that do not include the media. Also, this value system places very little importance on Web hits (which can provide other benefits to a company in terms of search engine optimization).

    The core questions to ask at the end of any campaign are: Did I meet my objectives? Did I meet my goal? If you can say “yes,” then the campaign was a success.

    Ultimately, there are multiple ways to measure the value of public relations and if the client sees positive results, that should be enough encouragement to validate the PR professional. A client who sees positive results will continue to enlist the help of PR professionals and will promote the benefits of PR for others to follow.

  3. kinoshita says:

    I think the value of PR is that we strive to help our clients understand their publics and vice versa. A true practitioner wants to establish a happy and healthy relationship between client and key publics. That is what makes us different from advertising and marketing. Our job is to help our clients communicate with their key publics. Our clients’ needs and demands don’t necessarily meet their key publics’ needs and demands, and we have to be willing to tell our clients that. Our job is to bridge the gap and do right by both entities. What our clients will do with the research and information we give them is up to them. We need to re-educate or redefine what PR really is.

    As for measuring our value, I agree there is not one measuring stick. Every campaign is different, clients and publics vary. There are too many variables. Some clients may always want to see the bottom line. Others may be willing to readjust their thinking, and accept that it’s not just about numbers. It’s about longevity and instituting a change in attitude and behavior as well. The latter takes time. We live in a era where patience is a virtue long lost.

  4. bjohnson says:

    I also believe that there are multiple ways to measure the value of PR efforts. As a senior in the PR program I have learned that both results and relationships are key to the success of a company. I personally believe that relationships building is fundamental and companies should not overlook that aspect.

    Many businesses may only be concerned with profits and results but the other aspects of PR efforts are also essential. I agree with Mr. Weiner in that ‘value’ is subjective. I must argue though that as each client and/or company is different, so is the value of PR. One company may need something that a different company does not. This is why PR is so diverse.

  5. ecain says:

    Ashley, I completely agree with you. I think that all companies these days are too caught up with numbers. I really liked your Twitter example, because it is so true. I even follow a few companies just for kicks but never really actively participate in any type of communication with them. Sometimes quality can definitely be better than quantity.

    Erin, anyone can agree that numbers are probably the most important thing to companies, especially big corporations. But I think that you make a good point about how at the end of the day if you can say that you met your original goal and objectives then the campaign was a success.

    Kim, patience is definitely a long lost virtue especially in the hustle and bustle of society today. I think you make a great point when you mention that our job as PR practitioners is to help our clients communicate with their key publics. Unfortunately I think that sometimes clients can forget this or get our job mixed up with that of Marketing and Advertising. I have even seen this happen recently in my internship.

    Britnee, I agree with you that the value of PR differs from client to client. Ultimately we have to tailor each campaign to successfully meet our clients needs, even if that means focusing more on media hits than relationship building.

  6. glindsay says:

    It’s definitely tough to make a blanket statement on how to measure PR, because as you said every campaign can be different. I think, as long as we keep communication lines open with our client and can clearly identify and describe our goals that it will make the whole situation better for us and our clients.

  7. ecain says:

    Greg, I agree communication is key in measuring the success of a campaign. It is very important that we are on the same page with our client of how to measure the value of their campaign, in order to eliminate or at least try to prevent any misunderstanding.

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