What clients want to know: Is PR getting results?

Is PR getting results? It is a question that every client has. And when they ask, they don’t just want to hear a bunch of fluff. They don’t want to know that PR has earned “a bunch of really great coverage.” Clients expect more than that from their agency. They expect clear answers – and they should. After all, if they’re going to invest money in PR, then they deserve to know what they are getting in return.

The best way I can recommend for you to, as a PR professional, prepare for the inevitable client question, “Is PR getting results?” is to collect data and use it to evaluate PR on an ongoing basis. That way, whenever you’re called upon by a client to answer tough performance questions, you’ll always have information available to explain PR’s progress.

Here’s a look at a few questions that clients commonly ask about their PR campaigns:

  • How much coverage are we getting?
  • Where are we getting coverage – is it in the right places?
  • What is the quality of the coverage?
  • Are our messages getting through?
  • How is the PR program performing compared to last quarter, last year?
  • Is PR getting results? What are some key highlights of our success?

If a client comes to you and fires off this list of questions, and you haven’t been collecting data and analyzing campaign results, you may start to panic a little. Okay, you may start to panic a lot. And that’s because you know that failing to provide satisfactory answers to these questions means you run the risk of having your client lose faith in the PR program – and you.

Let’s go back to that list of questions for a minute, and we’ll look at an example of how you can give your client a clear answer and support it with real measurement data. We can just use the first question on the list, “How much coverage are we getting?” Now, you wouldn’t want to answer this question by saying:

“Oh, well we’ve gotten some great coverage. I don’t know off the top of my head the actual number of articles, but I can tell you that we’ve had numerous articles in the key trades, and of course, we got that great hit in the Wall Street Journal. I feel good about the program and can assure you it’s on track. The team has been compiling a clip book with all the coverage to share with you at the end of the quarter, I can have them send you an early draft, if you’d like.”

What’s wrong with this answer? For starters, it’s not specific enough. If a client asks you this question they are probably looking for some details regarding the number of articles secured, how many blogs they were mentioned in, the number of broadcasts their company was part of, that sort of thing.

It would be much better to say something along the lines of:

“I can show you some numbers to give you a feel for where we are at with coverage… so far we’ve been included in 53 blog posts. We’ve also successfully booked 15 radio interviews.  We’ve exceeded our goal of being included in 12 trade articles – since we actually earned coverage in 15 published trade articles. We also were able to secure 12 mainstream media interviews, and we’ve already had coverage in 8 of our target mainstream publications, with 2 additional pieces of coverage still expected.” 

It’s fairly easy to see the difference between the first answer and the second one. The second answer gives your client a much better look at specific coverage details and better answers the question, “How much coverage are we getting?”

Of course, in order to provide specific details about coverage, or any other part of the campaign for that matter, you need to be measuring your PR and capturing the data that is important to your clients.

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