While some public relations agencies shy away from correlating PR with return on investment, it’s a topic we relish in. Let’s not beat around the bush, virtually every brand hires a PR agency to help reach customers with the ultimate goal of having them purchase services or goods. So how can an agency attach a measurable, financial result to their work?
The most obvious way is to report the comparative advertising value for press coverage that has been generated. Essentially, how much would it cost a brand to advertise during a TV show or appear in a magazine, website or newspaper. The majority of PR agencies provide an inflated “PR value” which is generally three times the ad value. But let’s face it, that’s a fairly subjective measurement – what if the article was negative or if the incorrect URL was published? There is no doubt that PR coverage is typically more valuable than advertising, but we feel its best to provide clients with solid data rather than a debatable, inflated value for press coverage.
The question remains, “what did a piece of coverage really mean to a client’s bottom line?”
Analyzing web analytics is an extremely useful way to directly correlate the ROI of media coverage. With analytic tools, not only are we able to measure the number of visitors that visited our client’s website but we also see how many of those visitors made a purchase decision. For example, we recently secured a placement on The Today Show and were able to view in real-time the number of visitors and purchases made throughout the morning as the segment aired in all time zones. Watching Google Analytics Real-Time Traffic Data is a guilty pleasure of ours – few things are as gratifying as watching thousands of new customers flood a client’s website!
By the end of the day the client sold thousands of units and was able to attribute all of those sales to our efforts (and to our good friends at The Today Show). Not to mention, all of those customers are now in the client’s database for direct marketing purposes and many have subscribed to their social channels, providing an opportunity to make them customers for life and transform them into brand advocates.
There are a number of ways to connect PR efforts with ROI, but it starts with the mindset of being accountable for sales and marketing goals. Generating mass media exposure is great, but producing tangible dollars from that exposure is ultimately what most brands are looking for.