September 10, 2020
Comms Best Practices
/ by Mark Weiner
This piece originally appeared on PR News and is republished here with permission.
Most PR practitioners conflate generating a return on PR investment with proving PR value. The two, however, hold very different meanings. ROI refers to a quantifiable financial return. Value is a subjective measure that changes from one organization to the next.
PR-ROI comes in three forms: connecting PR with sales (the sexy one); avoiding catastrophic cost (the big one); and efficiency (the most accessible). In this column we'll focus on PR efficiency as a contributor to ROI. We'll use a case study from software company Adobe.
For years, Adobe's executive team held that a higher volume of coverage across all media drove better business results than a lower volume of high-quality coverage in target media. Adobe communicators explored this perception through a data-informed, fact-based communication analysis. Objectives included:
To achieve these objectives, Adobe implemented a media insights framework applying traditional and social media analysis methods. Data science methods supplemented the effort.
Research of Adobe's Dr. Jennifer Bruce, a PRNEWS Measurement Hall of Fame honoree, confirmed that a core set of media outlets delivered the greatest ROI.
Rather than seeking to generate the highest volume of stories, the research revealed enhanced measures that combined outputs, outtakes and behavioral outcomes:
The research revealed that 65% of the original target media list of 3,000 outlets generated only one story in the past year. A research-based variation of 550 media generated 76% of all quality coverage. With these findings, executives agreed to focus media outreach and measurement on media that delivered optimal results.
The Adobe communications team developed and executed plans to drive the desired results:
While reducing their media focus dramatically and achieving related efficiencies, Adobe generated a fair share of overall coverage at a fraction of the cost. What’s more, Adobe generated more high-quality coverage among their primary target audiences: Chief Marketing Officers and Chief Design Officers.
To uncover efficiencies, Adobe consolidated monitoring and analysis with a single source for international content aggregation, analysis, reporting, attribution and research-based consultation. The research and analysis team uncovered opportunities to drive better decision-making:
When given a choice between quantity of media coverage versus quality of business engagement, the executives opted for higher-level C-suite engagement.
Adobe consolidated a number of media-monitoring services into a single source after determining that the chosen firm captured 82% of all content, while other sources combined captured only 37%. Through a single global methodology, Adobe reduced the number of research reports from 900+ to uncover time and cost savings of 25%. The centralized approach to monitoring and analysis reduced related costs and reporting turnaround times 67%.
The new approach formed the foundation for more fully integrated marketing and communication decisions. It enables correlation analysis between news coverage and internal data, such as Adobe.com visits, trials and purchase behavior. Adobe communicators now know, for example, the degree to which media type leads to increases in website traffic and trials, and which do not. Return on investment continues to improve.
By revolutionizing its media monitoring and analysis framework, Adobe quantified the power of PR to empower the enterprise as forcefully as any other marketing channel. As a result, Adobe executives control the levers to guide the company to even greater success while PR’s contribution to business results emerged as an important business driver.
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