The Value of Public Relations

Too often when a public relations professional is asked what value public relations has on the bottom-line, they can’t give a clear and direct answer. More often than not, their answer will be long with no real meaning at all. In fact, it is usually so convoluted that you wonder if they are really a professional communicator at all. Typically, that is the case for one of two reasons:  

  • They know public relations is valuable, but they don’t know how to pin point the value. Feeling that answering is difficult since there aren’t direct lines of output and return.
  • They don’t have confidence in the profession as a standalone industry. Years of not being able to quantify their value has lead them to passively accepting public relations as a support system to marketing and advertising.

Both reasons lead to a misrepresentation of the value of public relations. It is not a side show to advertising and marketing. Public relations is a unique discipline of professionals in a standalone industry.

Why is the value of public relations so hard to explain?

The business world typically quantifies the value of output through linear progression value of public relationsmodels. So naturally, that is the best way to quantify the value of public relations efforts. Right? WRONG! In fact, the exact opposite is true. Many studies show that the best way to identify the relationship between public relations and the bottom-line is through a non-linear regressive approach. When done this way there is a positive, and measurable, relationship between reputation/brand awareness and revenue.

What exactly is the value of public relations?

Public relations is an essential tool to drive conversations, traffic and leads that generate revenue. To put it more plainly, public relations drives conversations, the conversations bring traffic, which turns into leads that fill the pipeline and drive revenue. There is a definite link between public relations and the bottom-line. The key to finding the exact value of public relations is starting with the revenue and working backward.

The government and its’ officials have known this for years. It is time that public relations practitioners get on-board and deliver the message. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, nobody else will either.

If you would like to know more about how to apply the non-linear regressive approach, I strongly recommend that you check out this study.

I would love to hear what methods you use to identify the value of public relations. Please leave a comment below.

4 thoughts on “The Value of Public Relations

  1. This is something I have never thought about while working in PR, but it is quite fascinating. Some things are easily valued in PR while other aspects of the business such as relationships (or the confidence you mention) can be undervalued or impossible to value at all. It can be hard to forecast how and when a relationship that you started years ago may provide an opportunity for you in the present. I’m curious about the linear regressive method you mention. I’m going to read more into the linked study.

    Thank you!

  2. Absolutely correct, Alex! As a PR practitioner, our clients are demanding more and more measurement that shows our value. But oftentimes, PR professionals fall back into digital metrics such as clicks, views, etc that have limited ties to true value (and ultimately revenue or other relevant client goals). As PR continues to work closer and closer with marketing, sales, and other functions, we must do a better job of articulating our value. At my agency, we have developed a metric that combines both qualitative and quantitative tools that measure such aspects like reputation, favorability, and reach to achieve a ‘true’ PR value.

  3. This is one of the hardest issues of the industry. PR practitioners are constantly fighting to determine the value and ROI of their efforts because there is a general lack of awareness of what public relations does to drive the bottom line. I think you brought up a valid point that many people don’t realize how public relations efforts can start conversations that convert to measurable sales. Nicely written and very informative!

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