PR Myth of the Month: Proving Public Relations’ Value & ROI

In “Myth of the Month,” Mark Weiner (right), CEO of PRIME Research LLP and a member of the PR News Advisory Board, challenges conventional wisdom and dispels some false assumptions about public relations.

Myth: Proving the value of PR is the same as proving the return on investment of PR.

Truth: While both “proving value” and “driving ROI” are important, they are fundamentally different: “value” is a subjective measure, while “ROI” is an objective measure. “Values” change from one organization to another and even from one person to the next within the same organization. Return on investment is a financial measure that reflects the degree to which revenues are earned or saved—it is consistent from one organization to the next. To prove value, the PR executive must have a keen understanding of the objectives of the organization and solid understanding of what drives the value equation within the organization. It can take almost any shape as imagined by clients and their preferences for PR.

Generating ROI through public relations usually comes in three forms: doing more with less and for less (resource efficiency); driving revenue (the PR-to-sales connection); and avoiding catastrophic cost (crisis circumvention). The most accessible of the three ROI measures is “improved efficiency” (although, for some reason, most PR people erroneously discount its importance).

Look for a comprehensive feature on recognizing value vs. ROI in a future issue of PR News.

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