February 06, 2020
/ by Mark Weiner
Editor's Note: This post was originally published on PRNews.com and has been republished with permission.
Along with Measurement Month, it’s the time of year when PR evaluation and funding questions arise for 2020. Executives who invest in PR are becoming more discriminating, so we must clearly make our case using the language of the boardroom, not just the language of PR.
Further complicating matters, beyond past accomplishments, we need to communicate what could be gained through the use of additional resources. Despite new technology that enable almost everyone to produce data, charts and reports, proving the value of PR endures as one of the profession’s most vexing challenges.
One difficulty with proving business value is that values are subjective. What’s more, values change not only from organization to organization, but from person to person within the same organization. As such, the first step in communicating PR value in is to uncover the often secret value system extant among the executives involved in planning, funding and evaluating your program. After that, address points they consider top priorities.
As you prepare for 2020, try a systematic approach to discover the ways your internal clients define PR success and the extent to which you’re achieving it now.
Structured one-on-one conversations with internal stakeholders will reveal preferences and expectations by which you will be later evaluated. Having an objective third party conduct such conversations is preferable.
Questions may include those which probe: best PR measures (from clipping volume to revenue generation); how you’re performing on these measures vs. competitors; top media; top journalists; key competitors; contribution to overall business objectives and so on.
The keys to success: gather, aggregate and analyze individual responses to find common ground; share the aggregate findings with the individual executives involved; and negotiate your way to a more reasonable and meaningful consolidated central position.
For example, if 20 executives are involved in budgeting and performance, it’s much better to focus on four “core” measures all agree on than to try to satisfy 20 individual preferences. Attain authorization on the final measures and begin with the confidence that comes with knowing the most direct path.
What follows are ten questions you can reasonably expect to answer when determining your delivery of PR value. Your executives or clients may not have asked these yet, but if you know the questions and how to answer them (or better yet, ask them of yourself), you are more likely to enjoy the benefits of long-lasting positive relationships with stakeholders.
Ideally, the criteria that shape your PR value model will meet three targets. They should be reasonable, meaningful and measurable within the broader context of budget, type of campaign, duration of the campaign and more.
So while generating a high volume of coverage is reasonable and measurable, most executives agree that it is not particularly meaningful. And while generating sales is extremely meaningful, doing so can be expensive and, therefore, not as “reasonable” as other measures.
Typically, three or four measures will emerge as those upon which executives can agree. The most common “winners” include delivering key messages in target media, raising awareness, and meeting or exceeding objectives. To optimize value and reduce risk, be certain to maintain consistent and open communication with your key executives to share findings and seek agreement.
OK, so you think it’s too late to alter your 2019 plans for 2020. Fine. The best time to uncover your value equation probably was a few years ago. The next best time? Now.
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