Limited budgets and proving their value or ROI to their business are the biggest challenges facing public relations professionals, according to a survey by Job of the Week (JOTW) in partnership with Sword and Script Public Relations. The combination of tight budgets and the need to prove PR value has many PR departments and agencies searching for more cost-efficient media measurement solutions.
Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) cited insufficient budgets as their top obstacle, followed by the task of proving value or ROI to their business (54 percent) and finding an effective means to measure communications, the survey reveals. Just over half (51 percent) said they expect their budgets to remain flat this year, even though more than half (57 percent) say they’re receiving an ever-expanding list of duties.
Survey participants reported they are taking on more responsibilities and current tasks are becoming harder. About half (51 percent) said media relations is getting harder and 50 percent percent said organic social media is becoming more difficult.
Views vary on whether or not PR measurement is getting harder – 38 percent percent say harder, while 20 percent say easier and 37 percent say about the same. Advanced measurement tools and metrics make PR measurement easier. But PR faces more channels and more data to analyze. The increase in data leaves PR with many more measurement possibilities, survey participants say. While reaching decisions on measurement tools and appropriate metrics is difficult enough, reaching consensus from stakeholders across the business is most challenging.
Cost of PR measurement tools vary widely. Some web analytics tools are free; some premium media monitoring and analytics tools can run into five and six figures. Careful selection of measurement tools can relieve pressure on tight budgets and still produce analytics that provide needed insights on PR contributions to business success.
Solutions to PR Cost and Measurement Challenges
Pick the right tool. In order to demonstrate PR’s value while simultaneously controlling costs, it’s essential to select an appropriate measurement tool. Many firms sell measurement tools, but few can meet all your needs well at an affordable price. It’s crucial to investigate media coverage, clip accuracy, customization abilities, graphic depictions and other capabilities of media monitoring and measurement services.
Limit your metrics. Tracking and reporting only essential metrics and dropping outdated and otherwise unhelpful metrics can help PR prove its value without breaking its budget. Place less emphasis on metrics involving views and more emphasis on conversions, experts advise. “Long gone are the days when effectiveness was measured by how many eyeballs you’ve reached. Today it’s all about getting the right eyeballs to act in a way that increases revenue,” says PR measurement expert Katie Paine, CEO of Paine Publishing.
Seek solutions that spread the benefits. Some measurement venders offer dashboards with search and measurement profiles customized for different divisions, departments or brand managers. PR measurement solutions that are customized to the particular needs of your department or agency and omit extraneous features you don’t need will be more affordable and produce greater benefits.
Unbundle services. Many vendors sell media lists, news release distribution and media measurement together in bundled packages. However, purchasing services separately from different vendors can lead to lower costs as well as better service. No vendor is best at all three services – or even two.
Bottom Line: PR professionals face additional duties, constrained budgets and the challenge of proving their value to their management. Advanced PR measurement tools can ease the burden with suitable and affordable analytics. Measurement services can help PR win larger budgets by proving how their activities contribute to sales growth, profitability and other business goals.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.