In an environment where businesses are determined to see a return on investment (ROI) for every dollar spent, the burden on public relations professionals to demonstrate measurable results has seldom been greater.
While it’s a challenge to get a definitive read on the success of PR efforts, it is crucial for PR managers to be proactive in defining goals and achieving budgetary efficiency in order to validate the corporate suite's confidence and investment.
Here are three ways to study and optimize the value of your PR efforts:
1. Examine ROI:
Your best interests are served by taking this initiative. Do more than develop a formula to calculate tangible money spent to money earned scenarios; consider intangible, continuing and long-term effects to calculate total value.
- Don't just tally items such as product mentions or reviews. Grade instances comprehensively based on the quality of the source, positivity of the message and direct correlation to lead- generation revenue and sales.
- Develop proficiency with analytic tools, such as Google Analytics, and a PR software suite, such as Vocus, to take a role in assessing the effectiveness of your work and gaining a voice in how the results are perceived by C-level execs.
2. Open communication:
In order to focus your efforts to provide optimal value, you must enhance your perspective of leadership's expectations. Bring the conversation to the boardroom to clarify goals and receive valuable feedback that allows your communications team to pursue business initiatives with greater precision.
- To make collaboration easier, use your PR skills to run an internal campaign that highlights the scope of the department's value and achievements.
- Work with various departments, including sales and customer service, to gain insight on how to more efficiently pursue shared goals. For example, more extensive dialogue may reveal that a product's alternate applications are key to increasing revenues, or that promoting specific elements of your brand's message is one way to improve the top and bottom lines.
3. Refine your culture:
It's time that PR departments operate with more of a "business-y" bent. The process of achieving higher returns within your budget involves conveying team-wide expectations and embracing new technologies. The newest hat you wear is that of financial advisor to scrutinize potential projects and analyze effectiveness. Everyone is accountable for producing results that outperform the budget.
- Employ up-to-date tools for everything, from creating presentations to managing social media campaigns to reducing costs and maximizing time. A cloud-based software, such as Prezi, is designed for efficiency to create stimulating, highly interactive presentations using spacial visualization. The aforementioned Vocus makes it possible to track and measure all of your PR activities in a single, customizable dashboard.
- Seek the counsel and camaraderie of your CFO and CEO, as you forge a culture oriented toward results, where achievement and innovation are rewarded with bigger PR budgets.
The new approach to PR is from a mathematical, CFO perspective, where the last word is always the bottom line. By understanding expectations, finding accurate ways to measure ROI and making adjustments to your operations and culture, you can win support for your department while setting a lofty course for your career.
What other ways can you suggest to optimize your PR campaigns?
Brian Spero covers the small business market for MoneyCrashers.com.