News and Insights

Taking the PR Buzz and Turning it into Business

May 28, 2024

Public relations (PR) today is not just about creating buzz – it’s about turning that buzz into business, and it’s no easy task. Of course, building brand awareness is critical to what we do as PR professionals; however, clients are no longer satisfied with mere visibility. They want results that directly impact their bottom line – whether it’s increasing revenue, attracting new customers, or dominating market share.

As PR professionals, we are under pressure to generate buzz and demonstrate the tangible value of our efforts. Our clients, especially those who aren’t fluent in communication jargon, struggle to grasp how PR translates into measurable business outcomes.

That’s where we, as PR pros, can flex our muscles.

We know there are ways to connect the dots between PR and business leads, but we need to get everyone on the same page by determining ‘what’ and ‘why’ before looking at ‘how’ to measure PR success. By understanding the business goals, e.g., increasing sales leads and driving brand awareness, you can be clear on the aims of your PR campaign. This will make setting PR measures more straightforward and meaningful. Ask yourself, what would it take to inspire your target groups to consider a brand when they research options, and how can you positively impact their buying decisions? Couple this with understanding what media reaches your target audience, and you can quickly establish what good looks like when measuring your media relations efforts.

Let’s explore best practices for not just talking the talk but also walking the walk and ultimately turning that buzz into biz!

The first step is to shift mindsets and dispel misinformation about the role of PR. A great misconception is that PR and marketing are like peas in the same pod.  Wrong! PR and marketing are like peanut butter and jelly – they complement each other with different flavors. While marketing is all about the hard sell, PR is more about building relationships, managing reputation, and shaping public perception. So, establishing a clear link to comparable measures that can sit alongside results from other communications initiatives and demonstrate a return on investment is crucial.

Remember, PR measurement aims to determine whether PR activity achieved its goals and, if not, to understand what needs to be changed.

Focus on metrics that truly matter. Traditional quantitative and qualitative measurement tools provide ways to determine success levels against objectives. Digital measurement tools have joined these in recent years, providing insights into everything from search engine ranking to social media engagement.

Before implementing these metrics, collaborating closely with clients will be essential in setting up the right tools and measures. Align on campaign objectives and overall business goals. Go beyond quantitative metrics like the number of articles, interviews, or social media likes. Instead, focus on qualitative measurements that pack a punch, like how engaged your audience is, whether brand sentiment is trending upwards, or if your messages are hitting home. Don’t be afraid to mix it up with a blend of numbers and stories to get the complete picture.   By taking this strategic, data-driven approach, you’re not just guessing – you are nailing down what is working and what’s not.

That’s how you show your clients the real value PR is bringing to the table.

Next, establish key performance indicators (KPIs). Think of metrics like message pull-through, reach, social media engagement, or event registrations – the stuff that shows our PR efforts in action. PR campaigns vary in their purpose – from raising awareness to shifting perception to inspiring the discovery of products or services as part of a buying cycle, and so on.  When it comes to measurement, it’s still a case of comparing what resulted against what was intended.  Create landing pages, unique hashtags, and promo codes to attribute leads directly to the PR activities that influenced them, providing a clear picture of their impact on the business pipeline. Utilizing tools like Google Analytics is a way to provide insights into website traffic and user behavior, guiding optimization strategies to impact lead generation further. Listen to the data; it’s quite telling and will make you question your efforts to target specific media outlets, refine messaging, or explore new channels or tactics.

It’s good to stay true to your PR core. You might think tracking impressions and UVPMs is old-school, but they’re still as relevant as ever. Keeping an eye on media mentions and impressions is like checking the pulse of your PR efforts—it’s critical to see just how wide your message is spreading.

Remain focused on capturing outcomes, not just outputs. This can mean supplementing methods, such as tracking the number of mentions with those that help you understand what those mentions signify. Tap into media monitoring tools to track sentiment and message pull-through across various channels, from traditional media to online and social media platforms. Remember, the wider your reach, the more eyes on your client’s brand, which means more potential leads knocking on their door.

Today, social media is the heartbeat of public perception. Dive into likes, shares, comments, and follower metrics to gauge how your PR activations resonate with your audience. Search engine performance and social media interactions are numbers-driven measures, but they can also demonstrate a contribution to achieving defined outcomes. Suppose an individual within a target group reads a tweet and is inspired to retweet it; that indicates an achieved level of engagement. Similarly, engaging content might result in website visits or filling out an inquiry form. When you see positive engagement, consider it a thumbs-up for your PR game, hinting that potential business leads are on the horizon. #Buzz2Biz (sorry, I couldn’t help myself).

Don’t forget the power of storytelling. Quantitative data is all good, but truth be told, it’s not all about the numbers; that is only part of the story. There’s nothing like a good ol’ success story to drive the message home. “PR the PR.” Do you have a media placement that sent website traffic through the roof? Share that story loud and proud!

Finally, listen, listen, listen. Direct feedback from your audiences and clients is invaluable for understanding the impact of PR activations. PR is not just about pushing out messages—it’s about creating meaningful connections that leave a lasting impression. Listening to feedback, reviewing results reports, and conducting surveys help correlate qualitative feedback with quantitative data, offering a holistic view of PR’s contribution to generating business leads. If necessary, make suggestions on how to refine strategies.

So, here’s the deal … When it comes to measurement, there is no single ‘silver bullet.’ Combine strategic thinking, data-driven insights, and a commitment to storytelling, and you will truly demonstrate the transformative power of PR. Roll up your sleeves, dive deep into the data, and show clients the real impact of your work. The results might surprise you. You’ll turn buzz into biz in no time.

TAGS: Technology

POSTED BY: Melissa Moritz

Melissa Moritz