By Bekki Bushnell, Associate Director

Some see PR as an art. Some see PR as a science. The truth is that it falls squarely in the middle. There are formulas and processes, and a good deal of creative thinking that goes into making PR successful. As a brand, this success has to be translated into something tangible; because it’s not enough to simply get coverage. You have to justify your investment in PR to your board and you need to prove that it is reaching its goals, be it increased awareness, lead generation, growth, readying for funding or expanding into a new market.

As an agency, we hear often enough in a new business environment that ROI is kind of murky and difficult to see. We challenge that view because we believe ROI in PR isn’t a myth or pipe dream. It’s achievable.

Here’s how:

Focus on activity, not time

The retainer model. You pay for time. It’s the way it’s always been. But that doesn’t make it right. Instead, you should focus on deliverables, tangible outcomes. That way you can see a direct link between what you’re getting from your PR agency and what you’re paying for. Which leads to the next point…

Know what you’re getting

Depending on how your PR campaign is structured, it’s important to know what you’re actually getting for your money. Yes, there will be objectives and outcomes, but specifically, you need to understand what you’re getting from your agency in terms of consultancy, management and deliverables, such as placements, articles, releases, etc.

Build your tactics on a sound strategy

This sounds like a given – having a powerful strategy behind your campaign to shape and guide your tactics. But often, we lose sight of objectives or they aren’t clearly defined in the first place. Having a strong strategy from the outset ensures you stay on track, can adjust as you need to and have a better chance of meeting those goals.

Agree what success looks like

This ties into measurement. Yes, your campaign needs to be measurable and you need specific KPIs in order to measure success. But more than that, you need to be aligned with your PR agency as to what those metrics are and what success for your business and campaign actually means – whether that’s introducing your CEO to the national media or helping the sales team generate new leads.

Be structured but flexible

Your PR campaign should have definite structure to it — that’s expected. But it should also include enough flexibility to adapt to changes within the business or the industry. A lot can happen in six months so having the ability to swap out activity and tweak your campaign is vital.

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