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Do Execs Know What PR is, and More Importantly, the Business Results it Drives?

A recent article in PRWeek highlights research that shows many corporate executives don’t fully understand what PR is, and they CERTAINLY don’t know how much value it brings to an organization. This isn’t particularly shocking if you work in communications or PR; we live this truth every day. In fact, this has been the bane of our entire industry and all of earned media for decades.

But— it doesn’t have to be this way! As many of you know, we here at Cision have spent most of our careers helping the CEO and CFO figure out how to measure the true ROI and business impact the CMO was driving in advertising and marketing. And we have developed a measurement and business results attribution platform to finally get the CCO and CMO to measure PR, comms, and earned media the same ways. This is critical, as while marketing and advertising have enjoyed all-time high investment levels, PR and comms are struggling and in many corporations, being radically under-funded.  

How can you increase the visibility and perceived value of your comms team in your organization? Here are a few ideas. 

1. Show just how much value PR brings

What kind of reporting do you do in your organization now? How do you communicate your results to leadership or clients? One way to demonstrate how much value PR brings to an organization is to use the language of executives— data and charts. 

First, make sure you have a regular reporting cadence set up, and that you’re reporting on the right kinds of metrics. Report on more than just the estimated reach of your earned media. While share of voice, sentiment, competitive benchmarks for these and the rest of our age-old metrics are okay, it’s not enough. We need to report on:

  • Actual validated reach. Down to the individual who read your PR, comms, blog, or other content.

  • Audience data. What demographics, firmographics, lifestyle, and other audience data.  You need to know exactly who you’ve reached.

  • Behavior data. What actions did each audience take after consuming your earned media content? Both immediately, and over time.  

  • Business results conversion data. Whether it’s ecommerce, pipeline, web traffic, downloads, registrations, trials… whatever the business metrics your organization measures, you need to show your impact on those, the exact same way the marketing and advertising do, with the exact same metrics. (We can do this now with Cision Impact!)

Report regularly and report often; remind everyone frequently what you’re doing and what kind of results you’re getting. And of course, you really should be using Cision to do this. We have the technology to measure the true business value of your PR efforts. Learn more here.

2. Do your own PR

You know the old saying - “The PR pro’s children have no publicity.” We spend so much time doing the work of PR for our clients or brands that there isn’t a lot of time for our own PR. We’re doing ourselves a huge disservice here, because it means a lot of people– including the execs who make and approve budgets– don't always know what it is we do and all the effort involved.

Think about ways you can do internal PR for PR. Are there awareness campaigns or announcements you could run internally? See if you can find time to think as creatively about your own PR as your do your client’s or brand’s. 

3. Make it easy for others to amplify earned media success  

When you get a good piece of coverage, share it where the rest of your organization can see it. Don’t expect that everyone else is tracking your media coverage like you are. Share it across all your company’s social accounts, and work with your digital marketing team to put some paid spend behind it to amplify it. Make sure as many people in your company know when you get good press as know when the sales team closes a big deal. If it’s easy for your coworkers to spread the word, many of them will, so make it easy for people to share. 

Do the executives in your organization know what PR is and what it does? If they don’t, maybe some of these ideas will help increase awareness and understanding. Hopefully we’ll start to see some of these numbers on the rise. And in case any of those execs who didn’t know what “PR” stands for are reading this, it’s “public relations” and it’s incredibly important to the success of your business.

If you’re struggling to decide how to measure your PR efforts, download our free measurement guide

This piece originally appeared in O'Dwyer's PR News

About Kevin Akeroyd

Kevin Akeroyd oversees Cision's executive management team across operations globally. He has more than 25 years of experience in reshaping modern digital, social and mobile marketing globally.

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