Searching for True ROI Measurement in B2B Financial Public Relations Programs

ROI seems to be on everyone’s minds these days. Our agency and clients have been having more sustainable conversations about the ROI of PR programs.

If budget were not an issue, we would welcome regular primary research to uncover perceptions and track awareness in clients’ respective target markets, before and after campaigns. However, it is significantly more difficult (and expensive) to survey specific titles and departments within financial institutions, than to survey 18-22 year olds on their mobile phone preferences.

Therefore, we have to look for ways to effectively measure business-to-business financial public relations programs in ways that are both affordable and manageable.

Historically, the most common measurements have been oriented around measuring the impact on awareness and comparisons to advertising, and included:

  • Number of article placements;
  • Value of placements (based on advertising equivalents);
  • Number of impressions;
  • Impact on website traffic.

Higher-level measurement can include output or effort (not all activities result in clips) and ranking the value of media placements based on a pre-determined objectives, e.g., publication A is more important than publication B.

Ranking placements by context becomes more important — was the company mentioned in an article or were they the focus of the piece? Did the article position the company as a subject matter expert? Could the company use article reprints for direct mail or for the company website?

Advanced measurements can include factors such as: number of strategic introductions, like those with key media, analyst firms or other companies that are potential partners/acquirers. Another factor is how well the PR team prepares and trains executives for interviews, which can be done with a series of focused media training sessions.

A media audit at the beginning of a new relationship can be a valuable method to provide a benchmark for media relations efforts and to better quantify success.

A few additional, more difficult to measure things to consider when evaluating the PR team itself:

1. Does the PR team deliver both tactically and strategically? Are they someone I would call on for advice at a critical time?

2. Do they understand my value proposition, position in the market, and does that translate in company communications?

3. Does the PR team work effectively with others within the organization? Are they responsive?

Public relations programs can have a profound impact for organizations. Deciding how to measure PR activities and results can help everyone know how well they are performing and foster a more beneficial professional partnership moving forward.

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