An AirPR customer recently mentioned to me that they would be even more successful if they could report a PR metric comparable to “return on advertising spend” (ROAS), a key metric their advertising counterparts use when reporting to C-suite executives. My immediate thought was that we also need a “return on PR spend” (ROPRS) metric that can show the cost-benefit analysis of any given PR campaign.
Earlier this month on Twitter, New York Times writer Farhad Manjoo debated common misconceptions of what constitutes PR success. Maybe it is a good time to reassess PR metrics altogether, so we stop valuing vanity.
So what would this new metric, ROPRS, look like? Here are some thoughts on how we can better equate measurement between advertising and PR with a PR metric similar to ROAS.
How ROAS is Calculated
ROAS measures gross revenue generated from each dollar spent on advertising. In short, ROAS represents revenue generated from an advertising campaign as compared to the total cost of that ad campaign.
With this metric, marketing is a necessary cost, rather than an investment to incrementally grow profits (as is the case in PR, at times).
ROPRS would measure revenue generated for every dollar spent on a PR campaign, i.e., revenue from a PR campaign compared to the total spend or cost of that campaign.
PR campaigns can be company, product or service launches, announcements, events, or any other initiative with a defined budget. The spend for a campaign will vary depending on how each company defines what is a relevant spend. This could include staffing, agency partners, and — if you incorporate paid strategies into PR — any related spends for influencer placements.
Why ROPRS Could Be Beneficial for PR
Continuing to have a disparity between how advertising and PR teams report results in relation to business objectives and revenue will only propagate the illusion that PR can’t “move the needle” as much as advertising, when really, it can.
Advanced attribution, measurement, and reporting have begun moving the PR industry toward more business-focused metrics, such as website traffic and website interactions driven by PR content. Using a defined metric like ROPRS can drive PR agencies and vendors to evolve their business models and pricing to become more transparent and focused on driving business performance, not just impressions.
Instead of focusing on vanity metrics, showcase what you’re doing and how effective it is in terms of quantitative business objectives — not just how far it reached. Doing so can help PR professionals get full credit for their work and become even more effective, driving the industry forward in strategy and status.