How to work out the value of doing PR

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Businesses have been trying to work out their ‘Return on Equity’…the RoI…of PR expenditure for years, with no great conclusions, whilst PR agencies have been trying to convince businesses that PR coverage is worth five times the cost of the same number of column inches in advertising.

The truth is that there is no precise science to valuing PR any more than there is to valuing marketing as a whole, although the experts’ view is that PR is substantially more valuable than advertising.

That said, increasingly, PR is becoming a critical component of any marketing campaign as buying decisions are now so heavily driven by customer reviews. In fact 9 out of 10 product sales now check reviews before purchase.

In short, positive comments by trusted independent third parties are more important than any other marketing initiative, and effective PR is one the means by which those comments are won.

The singular objective of doing any marketing is to drive sales, but the only way of assessing the value of marketing is over a period, often at the end of the year, and even then it is difficult to work out which part of the marketing plan delivered best.

Whilst the sales might not be immediate, there are two key ways of checking the ongoing likely successful impact of individual PR news releases:

  • By reviewing the business web traffic is a good way of assessing the increase in interest in the business brand with spikes aligning to a press release.

This can be done through the Google analytics of the business.

  • By reviewing analytics showing how many journalists took an interest in the press release, whether they actually used it in an article or not. This is important since a journalist may not necessarily use the released news immediately but having captured their interest the probability of use in the future is greater.

Businesses should make sure that whatever service they use to distribute their press release will allow them to access these details.

Both of these ways of tracking also allow a business to refine their approach and messaging, seeing which structure and type of news works best for them.

What is not a good use of time is to spend hours on end trying to see where a news release got covered. This is not only time consuming, but also potentially expensive, and any coverage has limited value if web traffic, and as a consequence, sales do not increase too.

Written by Transmit PR partner JournoLink.

Rebecca Baty

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