Unlike advertising or sponsored content where you pay a fee for guaranteed exposure with a media outlet, there are no guarantees with an earned media – public relations – program. The success of a PR program lays in the strength of the stories that your pitch to the media, i.e. their newsworthiness. Well-executed PR campaigns educate and inform target audiences while strengthening a brand’s position in the marketplace. While this requires a blend of strategy and creativity – and a team that excels at execution – public relations can help to put your company’s name on the map and position your leadership as experts in the industry. If you’re wondering what the ROI of your current public relations program is – and whether or not it is moving the needle – here are three ways you can check to see if you are achieving PR success.
Increasing share of voice
Nobody likes to read a glowing feature story about their biggest competitor on the cover of their Sunday paper or in the latest edition of their industry’s trade publication. Likewise, watching your competitors repeatedly provide expert commentary on industry trends during the evening news and/or morning drive talk radio isn’t thrilling. Hence, many companies and causes hope to increase their share of voice in local, regional, national and trade media by implementing a proactive media relations program. When evaluating your successes during the past quarter, 6 months or year, compare the number of interviews secured over the same term during the prior year as well as how you stack up compared to the competition. In nearly every instance, increased share of voice is an indication that your PR program is working.
Becoming a “go to” source for target media
Do media opportunities arise only when you contact the media or do the media reach out to you when they need expert commentary or a source to round out a story they are working on? While positioning yourself as an expert source to media is important, it is also important to build reciprocal relationships and for them to perceive you as a resource they can rely on when related news breaks or deadlines are approaching. If media are increasingly reaching out to your team for interviews and expert commentary – without being prompted – your public relations program is making an impact.
Generating business opportunities as the result of media opportunities
While “getting ink” is important, how you leverage your organization’s media coverage is equally as important if not more important. Think beyond the readership, viewership and listenership of a media outlet and consider how you leverage your latest interview, contributed article or recurring expert column across other communication channels in order to reach a larger audience. For example, does including links to your most recent media coverage in your monthly newsletter offer an additional touchpoint with prospective clients? Does social sharing provide an opportunity to secure guest blogging opportunities with a network partner or industry trade association? If you’re looking to measure quantifiable results from a public relations program, lead generation is an important metric to track.
Successful PR campaigns are strategic and creative, proactive and reactive, and, most importantly, built around compelling news angles that will excite editors and reporters, and their readers, alike. As you evaluate the success of your current PR program and work to identify opportunities for improvement, focus on showcasing your unique value proposition, reinforcing the benefit your company or cause offers to its clients, and maximizing the reach of your media coverage and associated marketing content.
Great PR programs start with great communications plans. Download your free guide to developing a communications plan today for helpful tips.