How to Evaluate Your PR Campaign's ROI | Entrepreneur (2024)

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Most businesses have to invest in public relations in one form or another these days. Whether they attempt it themselves or use an outside agency, it's basically de rigueur in today's marketplaces and workspaces to establish an online presence, craft your messaging, publicize your brand and build your customer followership.

Lucky for me, I run my own PR firm, so the services I offer are becoming more essential than optional in an industry that hit the $20 billion mark in 2023 and is seeing year-over-year steady and sustainable growth. But no matter the size of the market or the increase in the number of PR firms nationwide, what really matters to clients — what has and always will matter most — is a return on investment. How much should a business invest in PR, and how is ROI measured to gauge success?

The first question is easy to answer: You should invest as much as your budget allows to get your name out there, capture coverage and solidify your reputation as the best in your industry. Determining whether or not that investment is paying off for you in the ways that you want is a whole different matter.

Related: 5 Ways to Get on the Media's Good Side (and Stay There)

How ROI "success" is defined in PR

When it comes to your public relations efforts, success is defined, at the core, as conversion; that is, seeing the products of your PR budget translate into tangible, measurable results in such terms as increased traffic, increased press mentions and increased sales. But it's important to note that PR conversion really isn't about direct financial returns; in the sphere of publicity, the raison d'être, the real goal post, is media exposure. The more buzz you can create, the more your PR strategy is working.

To create maximum buzz, you need an array of combined marketing and PR services all working in tandem to optimally position and promote your enterprise. When you combine all the components listed below into your PR plan, you create a digital marketing funnel, which should necessarily incorporate calls to action to drive the funnel. It's actually the funnel that creates the conversion that creates the customer relationships that (eventually) turn into direct sales. And it all starts with exposure. So let's start with exposure as one of the principal means to realize ROI.

ROI result #1: Press coverage

For years, I've been screaming from the rooftops that successful PR is about more than press clippings. But you know what? Press clippings are important, not just as a quantifiable reflection of the media hits your PR efforts are generating, but how satisfied a business feels, in qualitative terms, that its efforts are bearing fruit. Clippings aren't the only form of media coverage and media coverage isn't the only barometer of ROI success, but they're still pretty good indicators and will remain so. Who doesn't want to hear that their press release was picked up by 50+ outlets, that their product will be featured in an upcoming gift guide or that there are half a dozen podcast invites waiting in their inbox? No businessperson ever.

ROI result #2: Competition analysis findings

A PR specialist doesn't just concentrate on your business; a savvy pro knows to research what your competitors are doing to outrank or outsell you. When the analysis reveals practical, verifiable findings that can be applied to your own PR campaign (like the most effective media channel for your particular service), it's like unearthing a nugget when panning for gold.

I recall working with a really passionate business owner who couldn't understand why her own marketing efforts were falling flat. To her complete shock, I discovered that a similar company with the same name was also operating in her area. First, we implemented a brand identity shift; once that was established, we launched outreach and PR efforts anew. It worked. By distinguishing herself in her market, her market base began to grow.

Related: 10 Expert Insights for the Optimal (and Most Effective) PR Budget in 2024

ROI result #3: Website optimization and asset accuracy

Most companies already have a website up and running and a good deal of company collateral before they hire a PR agency. But are those tried-and-true marketing vehicles functioning at their highest level and are the assets truly spotlighting the company's distinction?

I once worked with a client whose website was just so, well, blah. Why would visitors engage with a company that can't catch their attention and interest? Another time, I created an eblast for a client, writing the pitch and providing them with the mailing list — all they had to do was attach their spiffy-looking flyer and press send. Only there was a misspelling in the subtitle of the flyer. One of the high-profile outlets it was sent to noticed the typo and emailed me about it. That was the last that outlet would talk to me about that particular client. Point being: Part of a comprehensive PR campaign is a thorough review of your existing assets and informed recommendations of how to elevate them and make them far more effective.

ROI result #4: Social media engagement

Recall what's been said about revenue not being the holy grail of PR. Rather, expanding your online presence contributes to the marketing funnel that trickles down to your company's bottom line bit by bit, and that's why exerting targeted effort on your social media platforms to garner the largest following you can is of paramount importance.

PR professionals have insider intel on what to post and when, what should be a story and what should be a reel, and the ideal frequency and content for your particular market. So when your number of followers and calls to action climb, you can tell that your PR campaign is properly capturing the personality of your business and accessing your intended audience.

ROI result #5: SEO outcomes

SEO isn't always a standard part of a PR package, but if you have the option, take it. With the entire business world online now, commerce is being conducted on screen via the power of search engines, making search engine optimization the key that's driving the whole machine. If you spend thousands on a state-of-the-art website, you want searchers to visit it. If you write a guest blog, you want people to read it. If you're ranking higher, seeing more traffic and getting more click-throughs once your SEO-enhanced PR plan has been put in motion, it's a sure sign that the plan is working.

Related: Does PR Actually Help Increase Sales? Yes — Just Do It Right and Be Patient

ROI result #6: Cumulative effect of a medium- to long-range PR strategy

In my line of work, everyone seems to want immediate gratification; they want to become a superstar overnight, with a guest spot on the Today show and a feature in the New York Times. But that's not the way a calculated PR plan plays out most of the time. Instead, it's more of a long (or at least a medium-term) game in which each deliberate action builds on the one before it and lays the foundation for the one after it.

You want to be proactive, yes, but also patient. You want to see results, sure, but they're not likely to happen at lightning speed. If you give your PR campaign a chance to do its job, it will advance at a manageable pace, and the cumulative buildup will yield consistent, dependable developments. Slow and steady wins the race here, so you'd do well to keep your hopes high but your expectations in check.

Final thoughts

ROI in PR isn't just an abstract concept. There are other ways to evaluate it apart from those discussed above (speaking engagements or great customer reviews, for example), and there's an abundance of measurement tools available now to actually show clients (not just tell them about) ROI statistics (but that's a whole different article for a different day). If you've got a top-notch public relations company in your corner, real results can be actualized and evidenced — the kind of results that take your business to the next level… and then the one on top of that!

How to Evaluate Your PR Campaign's ROI | Entrepreneur (2024)


How to Evaluate Your PR Campaign's ROI | Entrepreneur? ›

PR analytics is the first step in the PR ROI process. They provide exact numbers of email opens, click-through rates, percentage of email delivery, opt-outs and bounce rates. These statistics can inform your current PR ROI and give you specific and measurable goals to work towards in order to improve your PR ROI.

What is ROI in public relations? ›

However, in public relations, measuring your ROI (or return on investment), is more than just the financial gains of a campaign – it's also about brand visibility, consumer attitudes, and other qualitative aspects.

How do you analyze a PR campaign? ›

Measuring the success of PR campaigns requires a multi-layered effort that considers a variety of metrics. A combination of quantitative data, such as reach and engagement, such as sentiment analysis, will allow you to get a comprehensive picture of the success of your efforts.

How do you measure the ROI of a PR campaign? ›

PR analytics is the first step in the PR ROI process. They provide exact numbers of email opens, click-through rates, percentage of email delivery, opt-outs and bounce rates. These statistics can inform your current PR ROI and give you specific and measurable goals to work towards in order to improve your PR ROI.

What is PR KPIs? ›

In public relations (PR), Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are measurable values that help assess the effectiveness and success of PR activities. They provide a way to track progress, evaluate performance, and determine if PR efforts are meeting specific goals and objectives.

What is the PR evaluation method? ›

Surveys, media content analysis, and online metrics are all used to evaluate a PR campaign's performance – surveys provide feedback from target audiences and stakeholders; media content analysis assesses the amount and quality of coverage generated, while online metrics measure activity on digital platforms.

How to do a PR analysis? ›

Something as simple as looking at your website traffic after a PR hit is a good place to start, a good place to begin asking better questions of your PR team (like how can we get hits that will yield better traffic or traffic from certain sources).

How do you write a PR analysis? ›

These are:
  1. Create a great executive summary. ...
  2. Offer a quick situational analysis. ...
  3. Include market research results. ...
  4. Make an audience & awareness review. ...
  5. Explain strengths & weaknesses. ...
  6. Include the goals and objectives. ...
  7. Showcase the strategic plan. ...
  8. Detail your pricing.
Dec 18, 2023

How do you critically evaluate a campaign? ›

Marketing campaign analysis – How to review your campaigns' effectiveness
  1. Understand what elements of the marketing campaign worked well/ not so well.
  2. Learn how the target audience responded to the campaign.
  3. Review the ultimate effectiveness of the campaign versus objectives.
  4. Discuss the campaign with key stakeholders.

What does a successful PR campaign look like? ›

A good PR campaign is characterized by several key features, including a clear and concise message that resonates with the target audience, effective use of different media channels to reach the audience, well-planned and executed tactics, a strong call to action, and an ability to adapt and respond to feedback.

How do you analyze campaign effectiveness? ›

It involves identifying key metrics, collecting and analyzing relevant data, and interpreting these findings to extract meaningful insights. The results from this analysis then serve as a guide for making data-driven decisions and enhancing future marketing strategies.

How do you evaluate PR effectiveness? ›

Measuring key results areas

To measure the effectiveness of a PR campaign, businesses should evaluate the reach of their message and its impact on the target audience. This can be done by evaluating the media outlets carrying the message and the number of viewers or readers of the PR activities.

How do you evaluate a PPC campaign? ›

How to measure PPC KPIs
  1. Cost-Per-Click (CPC) This is the average cost you pay each time someone clicks on one of your ads. ...
  2. Click-Through Rate (CTR) This is the number of clicks your ad receives divided by the number of times it is shown. ...
  3. Conversion Rate. ...
  4. Cost per Conversion. ...
  5. Cost Per Acquisition. ...
  6. Quality Score. ...
  7. ROI. ...
  8. ROAS.

How to evaluate a PR firm? ›

For a real-world PR firm evaluation, use this checklist:
  1. Industry experience and expertise.
  2. Track record and past client success.
  3. Reputation and credibility.
  4. Client retention rate.
  5. Creativity and innovation.
  6. Team composition and qualifications.
  7. Communication and responsiveness.
Oct 16, 2023

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