Kevin Akeroyd
Kevin Akeroyd

A recent article in PRWeek highlights research that shows many corporate executives don’t fully understand what PR is, and they CERTAINLY don’t know how much value it brings to an organization. This isn’t particularly shocking if you work in communications or PR; we live this truth every day. In fact, this has been the bane of our entire industry and all of earned media for decades. 

While marketing and advertising have enjoyed all-time high investment levels, PR and comms are struggling, and in many corporations, being radically under-funded.   But it doesn’t have to be this way. 

So how can you increase the visibility and perceived value of your comms team in your organization? Here are a few ideas.  

1. Show just how much value PR brings

What kind of reporting do you do in your organization now? How do you communicate your results to leadership or clients? One way to demonstrate how much value PR brings to an organization is to use the language of executives—data and charts.  

First, make sure you have a regular reporting cadence set up, and that you’re reporting on the right kinds of metrics. Report on more than just the estimated reach of your earned media. While share of voice, sentiment, competitive benchmarks for these and the rest of our age-old metrics are okay, it’s not enough. We need to report on: 

  • Actual validated reach. Down to the individual who reads your PR, comms, blog, or other content. 
  • Audience data. What are the demographics, firmographics, lifestyle, and other audience data? You need to know exactly who you’ve reached. 
  • Behavior data. What actions did each audience take after consuming your earned media content? Both immediately, and over time.   
  • Business results conversion data. Whether it’s e-commerce, pipeline, web traffic, downloads, registrations, trials… whatever the business metrics your organization measures, you need to show your impact on those, the exact same way that marketing and advertising do, with the exact same metrics.

Report regularly and report often; remind everyone frequently what you’re doing and what kind of results you’re getting.

2. Do your own PR

You know the old saying—“The PR pro’s children have no publicity.” We spend so much time doing the work of PR for our clients or brands that there isn’t a lot of time for our own PR. We’re doing ourselves a huge disservice here, because it means a lot of people—including the execs who make and approve budgets—don't always know what it is we do and all the effort involved. Think about ways you can do internal PR for PR. Are there awareness campaigns or announcements you could run internally? See if you can find time to think as creatively about your own PR as you do your client’s or brand’s.  

3. Make it easy for others to amplify earned media success  

When you get a good piece of coverage, share it where the rest of your organization can see it. Don’t expect that everyone else is tracking your media coverage like you are. Share it across all your company’s social accounts, and work with your digital marketing team to put some paid spend behind it to amplify it. Make sure as many people in your company know when you get good press as know when the sales team closes a big deal. If it’s easy for your co-workers to spread the word, many of them will so make it easy for people to share.  

Do the executives in your organization know what PR is and what it does? If they don’t, maybe some of these ideas will help increase awareness and understanding. Hopefully, we’ll start to see some of these numbers on the rise. And in case any of those execs who didn’t know what “PR” stands for are reading this, it’s “public relations” and it’s incredibly important to the success of your business. 

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Kevin Akeroyd is the CEO of Cision, a leading global provider of software that empowers marketing communications professionals to identify key influencers, craft and distribute strategic content, and measure meaningful impact.