PR Myth of the Month: ‘CPM’ Does Not Apply to Public Relations

Mark Weiner

In "Myth of the Month,” Mark Weiner (right), CEO of PRIME Research LLP, dispels some false assumptions about public relations.

Myth: As a common advertising measure, “cost-per-thousand”—like advertising equivalencies—does not apply to public relations.

Truth: According to the measurement mavens of the Institute for Public Relations’ Measurement Commission, cost-per-thousand (also known commonly as “CPM”) can be a useful measure of efficiency. 

In this case, “cost” means out-of-pocket expenses such as the cost of an event or a press kit; “thousand” can represent “circulation/audience,” “Facebook followers” or “quality messages delivered through target media.” As such, the lower your CPM, the better. 

Savvy PR practitioners use CPM as both a key performance indicator to communicate value to the client and as a benchmark against achieving even lower CPMs with every successive reporting period. 

Advertising values are a controversial if still common measure; while CPMs are an advertising measure, they are useful and informative in public relations (as well as many other fields like manufacturing, quality control and more) where continuous improvement is something to which we should all aspire.

Mark Weiner is CEO of PRIME Research Americas. Contact Mark at

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About Scott Van Camp

Scott Van Camp is editor of PR News, an executive-level, reader-supported publication that helps enhance the business impact of PR. Scott has a rich background in both journalism and PR/marketing. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer/editor at various consumer and trade publications. Scott was with VNU Business Publications for five years, including stints as managing editor at IQ News and Technology Marketing magazines and senior editor at Brandweek. In the PR/marketing sphere, he has served as corporate communications manager at MarketBridge, a marketing and sales consultancy, and as editorial director for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. While at the Council, Scott led several high-profile marketing research projects. He has also operated his own communications and media consulting firm, SVC Communications.

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