How to deliver PR measurement results to execs

Those in your organization’s corner offices have little time—and even less patience—for excessive data and overwrought reports. Here’s how to trim the fat and deliver the ROI.

Do you remember the first time you reported PR results to a top-tier executive?

Given the sweaty palms, pounding heart and so much adrenaline that you tripped over your words, it wasn’t all that different from being in love, was it?

Sure, CEOs are far less likely to be wooed than a Tinder date, but there are certain steps you can take to put the odds in your favor when communicating PR results, why they’re important and how you’ll adjust your strategy based on those findings.

Follow these three steps next time it’s up to you to communicate value to decision makers:

1. Evaluate how much your executive knows about content.

A comic wouldn’t try out new material before taking the temperature of the room, so why would you report PR results to your CEO or top executive without knowing how much they know about content in general?

Consider the context of where the industry is today. Today’s PR plans are not PR plans at all; they are robust PESO strategies covering paid, earned, shared and owned media. If your CEO used to be a CMO, he or she will have knowledge in this area, but not everyone is so lucky and you might seize the opportunity to (respectfully) educate.

Use examples to reframe the state of PR today, and make sure your execs know what you’re considering when you evaluate a piece of content or PR initiative.

Tell them that all PR is content, and content is made up of:


  • Earned (publications such as The New York Times)
  • Newswires (press releases)
  • Owned (company blogs)


  • Text (long- or short-form)
  • Video (amateur or professional)
  • Visuals (photos, infographics, etc.)


  • Analytics
  • Insights
  • Benchmarking

Here’s a visual you can use to explain how it all works to top-tier execs or other cross-divisional partners:

2. Only report on what matters.

In our information-rich, digitally driven environment, we must continually evaluate and decide what matters most. Think about which pieces of content help you convey your key messages, reach your desired audience, generate business leads and link to your business goals. Those are the pieces to share.

A few tips for reporting:

Top-line and bottom-line it.

  • The best of the month was X, and what this means is Y.

Use numbers to tell the story.

  • This resulted in X percent changes month over month, and X percent increases…

Speak to business successes.

  • This is what X activity did for business goal Y.

Share what’s next.

  • With X data, we are going to focus on Y.

What that looks like in real life:

  • Our CNN piece drove roughly 4,000 potential customers, and nearly 14 percent of them took some sort of action on
  • Compare that with digital advertising, in which .02 percent to 2 percent of ads ever drive someone toward action on
  • We increased our earned media coverage by nearly 17 percent this month, which means more exposure for the brand.

3. When reporting, always use the 70 percent noise-reduction rule.

Dramatically reduce whatever you’re planning to share with your upper executive. Communicators can be verbose, and we sometimes layer in too much information.

Share 30 percent of what you were originally going to communicate. Think about how much more impact you’ll make once you’ve whittled a 10-slide deck down to three slides of crucial data that can help the business immediately.

Leta Soza is director of PR engineering at AirPR. A version of this article first appeared on LinkedIn.

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