By Susan Bennett, APR, CPRC

What is the real value of PR? How do we measure its impact on the bottom line? These are questions we’re often asked to answer, especially around budget time.

Few of us have large enough budgets to hire research firms (even though current industry standards say that we should allocate 10 percent of PR program costs to evaluation).

Or – as a colleague once said – if we were to measure everything we do, we wouldn’t have any money left to do anything. So how do we justify our budgets, our programs and even our jobs to management?

There are a few key DIY ways that won’t break the bank. Most of us know the basics of measuring output goals. We count the number of news mentions our releases generate. We might even count the number of column inches or minutes of broadcast time in a news story and convert it into Ad Value Equivalency.

There are at least two other output measures to consider: prominence and tone, which concern the quality of the news mentions. Was the story negative or positive, did it communicate the message you desired, was your company mentioned in the headline? Is your company mentioned in the lead or buried further down in the body of the story?

Answering these questions will help in the evaluation of output measures, but the real PR test is determining what impact we had on the goals of our company or client. Outcome measures are the “holy grail” of PR. How did your public relations activities change public perception of your company or change behavior? That’s the real measurement that management wants to see.

How do you measure PR results? Do you set SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, targeted) objectives and evaluate your programs? Add your comments below!