Published: 1 February 2016

The growing value of PR

Image: based on Gini Dietrich's PESO model/ Bottle PR

There has never been a better time to work in PR. 

For those who enjoyed the relative comfort of the AVE-days, you may disagree. But hear me out. PR has often struggled to show its worth – in part because it’s hard to put a price on media relationships, but also because of a lack of robust media valuation models. So as we say goodbye to AVE, those working in PR are recognising the value of broadening their understanding of reach.

I believe relevance combined with agility creates a powerful blend for stand out communication. We all know that digital provides limitless opportunities to engage in a more emotional way than any length of print column inches can. PR is being transformed and the brave and creative PRs are on a great journey.  

Where does PR currently sit in your organisation?

Charities, arguably more than any other sector, need to scrutinise every penny they spend on marketing. So deciding how to spend the (often very small) marketing budget is notoriously challenging – especially in today’s ever changing media environment.   

PR has struggled to compete but I think that flawed measurement models in the past are the culprit. However, there are a new breed of PR specialists who are embracing the opportunities, bravely testing new approaches, and helping to shape “new PR”. 

Measuring PR with the PESO model

At CharityComms' PR conference last year, I recommended using the PESO model (paid, earned, shared, owned) to measure the value of PR. How do you implement the model in your organisation? Remember it’s important to radically redefine the purpose of PR in order to achieve your organisation’s objectives. Ask yourself and your senior management team the following questions:

  • Is PR seen as storytelling, or a way to simply increase your brand awareness?
  • Do you agree that social media, blogs and vlogs are all part of PR?
  • Do you value a piece of coverage online higher than one in print? 
  • Do you believe PR campaigns can be as creative as advertising campaigns?
  • Are they cheaper than ad campaigns?
  • Do you try to provide a package of assets to journalists to support a story (eg case study, statistics, infographics, film)?
  • Is there adequate budget to deliver a brand message with PR?

A senior person (who is by no means representative of all senior people) in my last job once asked me why we were putting effort into social media. Three weeks later, #nomakeupselfie happened. They never asked again. 

Making the investment case

Part of the reason you’ll want to measure and evaluate PR in your organisation is so you have evidence when making your case for investment to senior management and the board. The questions above should help you to start building a case. By educating them – with some tangible examples against their traditional mindset – you’ll help them appreciate that an influential blogger or a shared film could be more valuable than a headline on page 26 of The Times.   

You don’t need to wait for the next successful campaign to come your way. Instead, rethink PR in your charity, and get the support of your leadership team by using PESO to help plan. 

I’m sure you and your marketing peers won’t look back. 

More like this
Check out the presentations and tweets from our PR conference last year
Read about making the case for PR

Natasha Hill, managing director, Bottle

Previously brand and strategic marketing director of Cancer Research UK, Natasha recently joined Bottle – an award winning communications agency that specialises in brand storytelling across written, visual and digital content. She passionate about the opportunities digital presents for creative thinking brands.