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Show Me The ROI In Public Relations

April 9, 2014

Michele-Spiewak_Rhino-PR-5x7Today’s post is courtesy of Michele Spiewak of Rhino PR. As an account director, Michele helps A/E/C clients establish and launch successful PR programs closely aligned with each client’s unique goals and objectives. 

Public relations (PR) and marketing efforts can bring measurable results to a company’s bottom line and help achieve its business development goals.

PR is an invaluable marketing tool, creating visibility, brand recognition, credibility and third-party validation through editorial placement, and ideally, lead generation. Unlike paid advertising and other communications vehicles, PR is validated by the media. Using local, national and industry trade publicationsboth print and electronicto educate and inform potential clients is a proven step to building a successful brand and driving continued sales growth.

Clients often ask how we measure the return on investment (ROI) of public relations. This can be difficult, as a price tag often can’t be placed on the number of eyes reading an article or forwarding a link. While there’s no magic formula to calculating heightened company visibility, PR ROI can, however, be gauged by traditional metrics as well as outcomes and value to the business overall.

Certainly, counting media placements is one way to measure ROI, but quantity of coverage alone doesn’t tell the full story.

Other factors should be considered, such as:

  • Quality of placement. Is this a top-tier publication or a less popular media outlet?
  • Type of piece. Is it a feature article, exclusive interview, or a quoted mention alongside competitors?
  • Editorial source credibility and popularity. How influential is this writer or publication?
  • Tone of article. Is the article positive, negative, or neutral in tone about your firm?
  • Target messaging. Does the piece capture the messaging or talking points you were trying to convey?
  • Social promotion. Does the article promote a conversation about your brand, company or project? Does it have “legs” in the social blogosphere?

The impact of a PR campaign on the company’s bottom line is more important, and more difficult to measure, than ROI metrics as a numbers game. Many of our clients have reported their own ROI from our agency’s PR efforts, mostly in the form of new client leads and secured projects. Sometimes a new client lead comes from someone reading a particular article and noting the “about the author” mention at the end. Often, maintaining a PR program that keeps a firm in the news is enough for people to hear about you and pick up the phone to learn more.

Here’s a sampling of Rhino PR clients seeing ROI from their PR programs:

  • A colleague complimented a Rhino PR client that she was “seeing the firm in print everywhere these days.” Our client commented that her firm’s PR program had really become a well-oiled machine, and that it was really nice to get outside recognition for all of their efforts.
  • Rhino PR issued a press release on the completion of a renovation and addition to a multi-family residential building in Boston. Less than a month later, our client, an emerging architecture firm, received a call from a notable developer that saw the project featured in a local real estate weekly newspaper. The developer asked our client to submit a proposaland our client won the project.
  • Another client, a well-established architecture and interior design firm, was interviewed and quoted in a facility management publication article focused on collaborative offices and work engagement. A prospective client saw the article and invited our client to interview for a project.
  • Rhino PR placed a byline article for an acoustical consulting client in a recent issue of Appliance Design magazine. The article included the firm’s contact information at the end. After reading the article, a small appliance manufacturer in Poland contacted the firm directly about its experience with noise and vibration control for small appliances.

Determining PR ROI involves a complex equation of factors, but a client with a successful PR program yielding company visibility, brand promotion, and new business will tell you that good PR is worth its weight in gold.

Questions or comments? Drop Michele an e-mail or start a conversation on Twitter at @RhinoPRBoston.

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