Proving the power of PR is an intimidating task. The very lifeline of the communications channel relies on how your strategies and tactics connect to the bottom line. This does not have to be a scary task, however. Nor does it need to be difficult.
In week four of our Best Practices for Communicztors in 2021 webinar series, we had the pleasure of speaking with Stacey Miller, Senior Director of Communications for Auto Care Association, and Karen Clyne, Global Head of Corporate Communications at BlackBerry, who are making the seemingly impossible possible: connecting their communications strategies to their organizations’ bottom lines. Jessica Andrews, Product Marketing Manager at Cision, joined the discussion and offered her own insight for how comms pros across industries and brand can prove their ROI. If you don’t have time to watch the webenar on demand, we’ve outlined our key takeaways to help you get started proving the power of PR.
Takeaway #1: Think like a marketer.
I know what you’re thinking: Marketing and Communications have always been siloed and can never co-exist. While part of that’s true, it can’t be the norm moving forward. If PR wants a piece of the budget and a seat at the table, the fact of the matter is you must think like a marketer.
“The closer you work with marketing the more you can relate to the metrics of what you’re doing and prove ROI,” says Miller. “Marketing will value your expertise when crafting campaigns; it needs to be a partnership.” Breaking down the silos is easier said than done, but once you achieve it, the easier it will be to prove the bottom line.
Takeaway #2: Qualitative and quantitative carry equal weight.
Think about the journey to how you’re achieving the number and the transaction. You need someone on your team who knows how to read the insights, and look behind the data, quantify the value behind it, and help you set achievable goals (that you can then raise -that’s what the c-suite wants in the end, right?) “I can tell you how many briefings I had in a quarter and how many press releases I wrote,” says Clyne, “but what I’m more interested in understanding is, did I show up in the right places? Am I driving conversation? Am I putting measurement structure around those variables? That’s where Cision and Google Analytics and various things help us identify the core insight. It leads to validation, correction and opportunity.”
Takeaway #3: Consider Share of Voice.
Benchmarking your brand with competitors is a great way to validate PR’s impact. If you watched the webinar (which, again, you can watch on-demand here), you heard Miller speak a lot about “thinking like a marketer.” “Marketing has tools and objectives that they’ve been using for over 15, years and PR is just starting to catch up to their capabilities,” says Andrews. “Use consistent dashboards across comms and marketing, and beyond, to make sure everyone is on the same page.”
Takeaway #4: Don’t Rely on Vanity Metrics.
Qualitative and directional metrics are a great way to show correlations and associations but considering quantitative numbers to be unattainable is a risk that you don’t want to take. “These metrics can be used to support your ROI, but not as the KPI and not as the only thing being measured,” says Miller. “You can track your PR activity to sales, but you have to have a marketing team that’s doing multi-touch attribution. This is why you need to work so closely with that channel so you can have someone that understands what that means and how it’s set up.”