But that needn’t be the case. There’s still ample opportunity to prove your PR value in 2019, and I’m here to show you how.
How to prove your PR value
Before we look at where we’re going, let’s look at where we’ve been.
PR has had a difficult history of trying to justify its worth. Even before the age of social media, public relations professionals struggled to put a price on what they did.
So, they used advertising value equivalency (AVE), which simply compared the monetary value of what had been published with the equivalent advertising rate in the same format. For example, if you were mentioned in a one-page global newspaper, that mention was valued the same as a one-page ad in the same publication – with no consideration of the sentiment of that article or how significant that mention was.
AVEs became such a problem that AMEC had to run a Say no the AVEs campaign, encouraging members to find other ways to prove their PR value.
Meanwhile, we saw the rise of social media marketing, and, with it, social listening. This allowed marketers to efficiently get tangible metrics and accurate media measuring, providing proof that marketing worked. (Well, they may not have always used the right metrics, but that’s another story.)
Which brings us to today. Poor PR, stuck on the bench while marketers take control of their social analytical data led campaigns.
It’s not too late
As the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them. By taking control of metrics, you too can prove your value and maybe show those marketers a thing or two.
So, where do you start?
Well, right at the very beginning.
This all comes down to data maturity. With brands finally comprehending how to use data and how, by managing it effectively, they can grow as businesses.
This is about aligning data, departments, KPIs, processes, and metrics across an entire business.
Simply put: Creating one goal and ensuring that everything your company does works with that goal.
That’s why it’s so important to prove your PR value. If everyone is working toward the same goal, you need to prove that your department is too. So, before you focus on measuring your PR communication efforts, know your goals.
Focus on your business goal
This first part should be easy. Your business should have one focused goal in mind: You need to know what that is. Just don’t simplify it too much.
For example, that goal to make money can be smarter. By saying you want to increase profit by 15 percent year-on-year starting by the end of 2019, you have the same goal, but it's more tangible and easier to prove.
Align your PR strategy with your brand goal
Now that you know exactly what your company wants to achieve, you can create your PR strategy based on that goal.
This isn’t the place for a complete list of PR strategy ideas. Remember: Everything you do should lead back to that ultimate goal.
Align your PR strategy with other teams
Here’s the trick. Above, I may have hinted that you need to get ahead of your other departments to prove your value. But really, that isn’t going to win you any favors. If you’re constantly butting heads with the marketing or social media teams, it’s not going to help any of you.
Again, it all goes back to data maturity. The best businesses have departments aligned across the board. Think how valuable your department will be if you’re managing that alignment. Win-win.
Enact your strategy and measure results
Now, here’s where the main part of your job comes in. Obviously, it will be a different job from person to person and company to company, but putting the PR campaign to action and getting results is the best part of public relations. Whether that’s writing a press release, organizing events, creating the perfect pitch, networking, or creating social media content, it’s the best part.
Plus, because you know exactly what measurable goals you’ve set, you know what impact you want to measure. The trick is finding the right metrics to monitor.
That’s where things get trickier. You can’t use AVEs, of course. And you don’t want to be sucked into the trap of just looking at vanity metrics for each campaign. Those are numbers that look nice, but don’t mean anything. Great, a news story got 1,000 Facebook likes. Does that directly impact your brand goal? Probably not.
How to measure PR
What you need is metrics that do count. Here’s an in-exhaustive list of what you can measure:
Share of voice
This is a great way to understand your position in your consumers' mindsets.
There’s a proven link between your market share and top-of-mind awareness, which means the better your market share, the more brand awareness your consumers have. Therefore, the more sales.
Example: When comparing the SOV of finance mentions, Bank of America can see clearly that its campaign efforts had a significant impact in late November, compared to its competition.
If that isn’t tangible enough, you can directly compare your SOV figures against your sales; there should be a correlation.
Change in sentiment
The big aim of PR is not just to improve how often you’re spoken about, but how well you’re spoken about. That’s why you should monitor your brand sentiment.
Sentiment analysis allows you to track the change in your consumer opinions across social media and online. You should monitor online and social media sentiment it constantly to see how each campaign or project impacts it.
Again, your sentiment should drive more sales and promotion. People who are happier about your brand are more likely to give you positive reviews, and we already know the benefits and statistics of reviews.
Example: Diesel’s #GoWithTheFlaw campaign had a peak in mentions and sentiment in February.
Back to those vanity metrics. I may have misled you a bit there as well. As one-off measurements, they aren’t particularly useful. But when constantly monitored alongside other changes in your brand interactions, they can be useful.
For example, looking at one post with 100 likes means nothing. But if you know the average reach for all your social posts, then you’d know 100 likes compared to an average of five is great. Or poor if compared to an average of 5,000.
By constantly looking at the major engagement metrics, alongside other traffic monitoring numbers (such as website visits, inbound inquiries, and number of Google searches for a brand), you start to get a complete picture of your brand positioning.
From there, you can directly see the impact of all your PR efforts.
At this point, you’re probably thinking there’s a lot of metrics to monitor and very little time to do it.
By running an effective social listening strategy with a platform like Talkwalker, you can gather these metrics from your social channels, blogs, news, press, radio, and TV broadcast.
You can also analyze your data directly within the platform and create reports ready for your C-suite.
Report what matters to the C-suite
Here’s the final stage of your strategy. All you have to do is take the PR proof you’ve gathered and report it back to the people that matter.
The trick here is to consider what each person wants to hear. Your CEO will want to see exactly how your PR has impacted your business goal (step 1). Report back to them on the results and data that demonstrate you achieving that goal.
Other positions, like CMO, will want to compare your efforts as part of the broader picture. Provide the proof that you achieved your company goal, but also evidence that you tied into the rest of your communications teams efforts.
You can prove PR value
Let’s finish on a high. There will be rumblings about the integration of PR and marketing next year, but you really shouldn’t take that as a negative.
It’s a challenge. Manage, monitor, and report your strategies effectively and lead the charge when it comes to aligning your strategies with other departments. You have the opportunity to not only secure your position, but to take the lead in your communications department.
The future is coming up fast, but it’s a future full of opportunity to prove your PR value.
Dan is a content marketing officer for Talkwalker - the number one social media analytics and listening platform. Outside of marketing, he likes to stay active by skiing and scuba diving, and can always be found with a good book and a bad pun.