From Communications Week, insights into gauging PR’s true value

Metrics, metrics, metrics. They can be daunting, but they’re essential for gaining a seat at the table. So is speaking the top executives’ language. Time to hone your math and verbal skills.

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Today’s challenge might not be that top-tier executives are unconvinced of the high value of PR. The struggle could be within the profession itself.

It’s Communications Week in New York, and one panel moderator posed the question, “Is PR dead?” Surely, he was trying to get a rise out of the audience and his fellow panelists (who answered with a resounding “no”), but the question was appreciated.

PR is not dead. It’s more vibrant and essential than ever.

The value of public relations garners much discussion among communicators. Whereas marketing can point to direct-response efforts, PR has always struggled with the metrics.

As Michael O’Brien, president of client relations for Ketchum, noted, “Math is not a four-letter word.” It’s time for PR practitioners to sharpen their pencils and prove that PR is a must-have, not just nice to have.

Moving beyond vanity metrics and putting a more meaningful value on what PR brings to the business should be the goal for all PR professionals, whether at a corporation, agency or nonprofit. Ad value equivalencies, loathed by many but often used as a default, might have driven us to this point of uncertainty.

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