Why Marketing Leaders Want to Link PR Success to the Bottom Line


What it takes to solve the grey area of effectiveness in public relations, and key takeaways your CMO wishes you knew.

Marketers are under more pressure than ever before to prove that every dollar they spend yields a healthy return on investment. But that adds complications. It’s often difficult to identify the specific marketing efforts that bring robust returns in a short amount of time, and it’s a constant struggle to highlight the tangible impact from the various parts of the marketing toolbox — specifically PR.

To measure PR effectiveness, marketers have established a wide variety of key performance indicators (KPIs) as a way to track key marketing objectives. Digital marketers typically define these KPIs as forward-looking metrics of end performance. But they also show the short-term impact of a campaign, drawing as direct a line as possible to the bottom line. 

But what else is a good measurement for the impact of PR exposure, and what KPIs will truly count for marketers in the future? How can marketers achieve their intended outcomes with PR credibility assets? Marketing leaders from across the country gave us insights about the key takeaways that other marketers must know.

Marketing KPIs

Photo by Stephen Dawson on Unsplash

1. If You Think You Know What’s Important to a Marketer, Then You’re Wrong

Things have shifted over the course of any marketer’s career. Previously, it was about outputs, and now it’s about outcomes.

In the past, marketing leaders would report on, say, publishing a certain amount of blog posts, or creating a webinar series and tracking that 200 people joined. Metrics were focused merely on volume, including increased site traffic and leads. But that was it. 

Today, marketing’s constantly evolving responsibilities are all about revenue. Marketers need to show that they’re actually contributing to the pipeline. If your target audience isn’t consuming what you are putting into the market and buying your product as a result, then your plan needs to change.

The inherent difficulty is accountability. So many marketing channels — especially digital marketing channels — are now eminently trackable. If you send an email marketing campaign or roll out a content strategy, a marketing manager can, through attribution, determine how much revenue it drove through the prospects that engaged with that content. 

Content, analytics, and customer-centric strategies compel digital marketers to evolve or risk not making impactful decisions that tip the bottom line. 

2. Results (and Revenues) Are Key

All the largest brands have multiple people that can analyze how high impact, non-digital channels are moving the needle — television, print, radio, and billboard ads. But if you’re a startup, it can feel like a bit of a leap of faith. Smart, scrappy marketers have to look directionally at metrics like increases in site visitors and qualified inbound leads, but it’s often not as simple as a one-to-one correlation. 

The old way of thinking about a PR agency for many was: we are a company, therefore we need a PR agency. Now, marketers must deploy PR strategically in order to achieve desired  business outcomes. PR strategy needs to be aligned to the full marketing plan to achieve results and drive revenue.  

The question for marketers now is, how can PR actually help me sell more of my product? Marketers should start with defining their customer personas — the people who are responsible for buying their product. Then, within each persona subset, what types of credibility assets are going to matter to them most?

Marketing leaders can’t just sit and wait, and hope that target personas are maybe going to see these assets. Instead, PR should be used as an additional content marketing tool for precise audience targeting through earned media amplification that yields desired results. 

Part of the changing role revolves around being able to connect results and revenues to these evolving efforts, including PR.

3. Marketing Is Now a Long-Term Measurement Game

If you can show how brand marketing drives revenue, and in turn how PR drives brand growth, you’re in good shape. But it’s easier said than done.  

Any marketer knows it’s difficult to make immediate connections with brand awareness efforts, but at the same time so much affects the bottom line. PR can be a major factor in that bottom line beyond the length of a quick-hit PR cycle through proper amplification and ensuring the strategy is aligned to the broader content marketing and demand generation plan. 

Consistent media is key when keeping a brand fresh and relevant in the eyes of customers. Businesses need a trusted, third-party voice that people listen to. It’s always more trustworthy than just hearing from a salesperson, and media provides a key avenue to measure long-term success and loyalty within an established network. It is then taking that brand awareness and channeling to through your sales funnel that will ultimately result in the outcome that matters most to your business.

Still curious about how marketing leaders can create an inherent level of accountability and attribution for normally imprecise PR metrics? Be sure to check out our webinar on Outcome Relations, our PR model that drives credibility assets to support desired business outcomes and a concrete, measurable impact.

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