I know from my diverse experience, that PR helps drive sales, but honestly, I do not think I could prove it in advance, as I have been asked to do by many potential clients. I can tell you what happened with previous clients and what I think is going to happen, but if you’re a skeptic, that’s not proof (or anything close to the so-call guarantees of advertising.)
The problem is, most corporations are happy to measure sales and marketing, but fall short in measuring PR efforts, muddying the waters for future communications measurement efforts. If a company/agency does measure PR, big results are rarely made public and smaller companies rarely monitor frequently or thoroughly enough to have solid results available when a public relations consultant steps in.
Often, what you get when you inquire about a company’s results or measurements is a list of media hits, which suggests that media relations is PR or is the only way in which PR is useful to the corporate bottom line. Not so. Monitoring media placements is important but monitoring all public relations functions is essential.
On a few occasions, I have had clients that either participated in zero marketing outreach of any kind or marketing plans that were so specific (100% of the budget went to ads in one magazine) that once I began my work, I could clearly tie results to PR efforts. In completely isolated communications events, I have seen results that included a 300% increase in sales and a 300% increase in media coverage. While my personal research could not be deemed scientific, it made a clear impact on each of those companies.
The problem is that not enough companies have experienced this clear impact (or were not aware due to lack of measurement), therefore the idea that sales is impacted by PR still seems to be debatable.
Most of my clients conduct ongoing marketing and sales outreach that began prior to my arrival and that will continue simultaneously, so showing sales impact gets a bit trickier. There is a business case for public relations; just that not enough business owners or decision makers know it and not enough PR people are able to make it.
In those instances when I know I have to have some facts and figures, I am thankful for the The Institute for Public Relations Commission On PR Measurement and Evaluation’s Isolating The Effects Of Media-Based Public Relations On Sales: Optimization Through Marketing Mix Modeling. Here’s what I share:
- In terms of ROI, media-focused public relations delivered returns five times greater than television advertising and three times greater than print advertising.
- PR generates returns ranging from 300% to 800%
- Impact of print advertising decreased after one week, the influence of public relations – in this case editorial coverage — was shown to last for as long as 13 weeks.
- Media-focused public relations delivered returns five times greater than television advertising and three times greater than print advertising.
My mom would say, “Measure twice, cut once;” but Jules Rules says “Measure Consistently, See Results.