The PR industry gets a bad rap at times because professionals historically relied on soft metrics such as placements, impressions, and ad equivalency to create the perception of value. They failed to show how PR activities impact key performance indicators that are relevant to the C-suite.
But modern PR pros are more adept at building strategies that have an impact on expanding reach, driving Web traffic, increasing sales conversions, and enhancing customer loyalty.
As budgets continue to shift to automation, content marketing, email, and more, PR pros have the chance to assume unparalleled levels of influence in the marketing mix. But, they must expand their capabilities and deliver measurable and meaningful value.
For example, consider the impact of an earned media placement in an online publication. Rather than stopping at impressions, what if you used analytics to track Web visitors originating from the media source? Then, followed along to determine how many of them became leads and sales, and how much revenue they generated?
You can follow the same thinking for bylined articles in print outlets, industry awards, speaking engagements, and TV appearances. PR can play a key role in driving business results. You just need a system for tracking and reporting performance.
Studies tell us that marketers, including PR pros, face increasing pressure to measure the ROI of campaigns and connect the dollars spent to bottom-line results, but they are largely underperforming.
Marketers are drowning in data, while dealing with the complexities of real-time marketing and navigating brands through the transparency inherent to social media.
As consumers gain more choices and control, strong analytics are needed to prove value to the C-suite. You have to be proactive in assessing performance and willing to adapt in real time based on results.
However, according to The 2014 CMO Survey from CMOsurvey.org, just 36% of CMOs have proven the short-term impact of marketing spend. Over the long term, that figure drops to 29%. The vast majority of CMOs have not been able to show an impact at all.
There is huge untapped potential for PR pros who understand the impact programs have on KPIs and know how to turn data into intelligence, intelligence into actions, and actions into outcomes.
Paul Roetzer is CEO of PR 20/20, an inbound marketing firm.