PR Credibility is a Numbers Game
PR professionals are used to ‘storytelling’. Yet when it comes to managing upwards within the organisation, PR can struggle to sell its ideas or to convince senior leaders of the real business benefits that PR provides.
There can be a simple explanation for this shortfall in credibility: boards and management teams talk in numbers.
At the top table, the demand is to demonstrate that we have an impact on achieving business objectives, and there’s an acceptance that certain roles/disciplines deliver this. In contrast, a campaign to ‘raise awareness’ or ‘increase share of voice’ won’t be applauded – unless there’s a clear answer to the ‘So what? question. Until PR teams can demonstrate higher levels of commercial awareness and speak the same numeric language as the board, their credibility will remain questionable.
When PR is truly aligned to the commercial objectives of an organisation, senior executives start getting metrics that actually mean something. Measurement moves way beyond ‘impressions’ and ‘key messages contained in press cuttings’ to a place where we can demonstrate genuine ROI.
Leadership teams are interested in a very specific set of numbers, all of which are related to the bottom line on the balance sheet. They want to know how campaigns and activities translate into sales, profitability and shareholder value.
To impress decision-makers, all PR activities need to influence audience opinions and create behaviour that contributes to commercial success.
Generating visibility and awareness through media coverage is simply not enough. The story we should be telling contains numbers that reflect real business outcomes, including
- How a campaign drove a percentage uplift in search for the company and its products / services
- How an increase in media visibility correlated statistically with growth in the customer base or growth in sales / profits
- How a media campaign contributed to reputational asset value and brand love
- How preventing a crisis saved ££££s
For too long, PR teams have been telling senior leaders that this is impossible. That’s not simply a story – it’s a fairytale!
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