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Tuesday, December 08, 2015

8 Ways to Determine Your Public Relations ROI

Business growth and public relations strategies have long been tied together, but as often as business executives rely on pubic relations (PR), they often lack a means of gauging their return on a PR investment.

Because PR is more difficult to measure with traditional tools and metrics, a different approach and shift in perspective is needed. In order to determine a return on investment (ROI), any business manager should adopt a broad view of the PR impact on their company.

The lack of solid ROI measurements for PR initiatives is unfortunate, as a well planned PR strategy can have a tremendous positive impact on the success of a business. To begin measuring PR, business managers need to determine the facets of their business that are succeeding and how these facets are connected to their PR initiatives.

Because of its nature, PR will never produce the succinct, clean results that occur when measuring other business factors. However, attempting to determine the connection between a PR strategy and positive growth factors in your business allows business managers to make smarter PR investments. By focusing on certain key aspects, PR ROI can be quantified.

Inbound Leads. Successful PR communicates your company's strengths and expertise to the right target audience. By strategically placing marketing pieces in trade publications, your company will experience a growth of inbound leads.

One measurable component in this "PR push" is your website. Measuring your traffic is a way to track the results of your PR initiative. Create a schedule for checking web traffic each month. When you have a baseline established for the number of visitors to your site, you can track a PR campaign's success by checking the number of visitors just after a large outreach effort. If the number of visitors has increased significantly, the PR campaign is working successfully.

Social media is another tool for tracking PR success. Similar to the number of website visits, you can begin to measure the number of shares or "likes" that your posts are receiving. If numbers increase greatly just after a PR initiative, it is most likely a successful campaign.

Conversion of Credible Prospects. PR success can be tracked by analyzing the type of sales calls experienced in the wake of a large campaign. A successful PR initiative makes a potential customer feel confident in your company's abilities. Referencing a recent media campaign can help convert sales calls into sales appointments.

If your contacts after a PR campaign are higher in the sales funnel and they are asking higher level questions, the campaign is running successfully. Higher level requests will provide an opportunity to demonstrate your company's understanding and abilities. You will develop stronger relationships with your contacts.

Length of Your Sales Cycle.
Successful PR initiatives will shorten a sales cycle, ideally by 10 percent or more. A shorter sales cycle will enable you to use resources more efficiently, increasing the number of leads for your sales team.

A well-executed PR campaign should lead to increased trust in your brand. It should also associate the name of your company with certain industry keywords. This way, instead of generic searches for "app company New York", interested potential clients will search your specific company name. They will already associate your company with your products and service.

Measuring the sales cycle allows you to track whether this important facet of PR is operating well. Because a consumer is doing less research before contacting your company, your sales cycle should be growing shorter.

Recruitment. PR success means that instead of looking for qualified candidates to work in your company, the best qualified individuals are contacting you. If you see an increase in your recruitment, your PR efforts are most likely paying off.

Contacts by Investors. Potential investors do not like ‘unknown’ companies. PR should be helping introduce your company name, service, and trustworthiness to potential investors. If you are not being contacted by investors after a PR campaign, it may not be as successful as it could be.

Crisis Management. In the event of a crisis, a PR firm may be the only thing standing between your company and disaster. By measure your market share during a crisis, you can quantifiably measure PR success. A good PR strategy will limit any losses during a crisis period.

Relationships with Shareholders. PR campaigns are tied to the value of your stock. The more shareholders understand your mission and business strengths, the better your relationship will be with them. If your stockholder relationships improve after a PR campaign, you are receiving a positive ROI.

Competitive Visibility. It is challenging to determine a quantifiable value in market visibility. However, if you imagine how your bottom line would change if your competitor's PR was more successful than yours, you can somewhat measure the competitive value of your own PR initiatives. 

Tracking these factors will not produce a cut-and-dry measurement the same way budgeting tracking does, but paying attention to the correlations between all of them will help you understand whether your PR strategies are working for your company.