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Is PR worth the investment?

By Maxine McBride   

With the current economy, many business owners are re-evaluating their marketingMarketing Strategy budget and are asking: Is public relations worth the cost?

The short answer: Absolutely! Now more than ever, it is important for your company to be as visible as possible.

The long answer: For years it has been evident that dollar-for-dollar, public relations expenditures generate greater long-term awareness than advertising and have a higher return on investment (ROI). Instead of thinking of PR as a cost, think of it as an investment.

How can you measure public relations and its effects on consumers?

If you are working with an agency, the impact of public relations efforts may be measured in many ways, including advertising value equivalency.

Advertising value equivalency (AVE) is a statistical measurement tool and an industry standard that takes the subjectivity out of public relations. It makes public relations quantifiable by assigning a dollar value to non-paid media coverage, including press clippings and broadcast media. AVE is calculated by measuring the column inches (in the case of print) or seconds (in the case of broadcast media) and multiplying these figures by the respective medium’s advertising rates (per column inch or per second). This final dollar amount is what it would have cost to place the same size advertisement in the same medium.

Generally speaking, the final dollar amount is usually almost ten times more than out of pocket costs.

Another way to measure the impact of your public relations efforts is to discover how your company’s information is reaching your target audience. When potential clients meet with you, ask how they heard about the company. You may prompt them with current campaign initiatives or common outlets such as newspapers, magazines, or online media sources. Evaluating their responses and comparing your best resources will help determine your ROI.

Review your press coverage monthly. Tally how many times your company was mentioned or featured in newspapers, online news sources, magazines, and trade publications. Are your key messages being communicated? Are your press releases being picked-up? While quantity isn’t always equivalent to quality, it is important that your media message is on-target, positive and creating awareness.

Lastly, request reports from your public relations agency showing its monthly results. These reports should detail press releases that were sent to the media, newspaper, or magazine features, media interviews, and media pitches. Savvy marketing professionals track their activities and can generate reports for your review. Use these reports to discuss how to move forward and/or change your marketing campaign.

A process of checks and balances is important in every area of business and public relations is no exception. Using these simple indicators will help to assess and reaffirm that your investment in public relations is well worth it.

Maxine McBride is the president of Clockwork Marketing Services, Inc., a full-service marketing firm that has provided its premier services to clients in Northeast Florida and throughout the United States for more than 15 years. For information about Clockwork Marketing Services, visit www.clockworkmarketing.comor call 904-280-7960.


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