How Much of Your Marketing Budget Should You Really Spend on PR? It’s A Lot Less Than You Think

It is vital to talk openly with your current agency (or, if you’re looking, potential agencies) about the results. You want to see performance goals (increasing mentions, features, links), if not concrete results (like countable, monthly results).

How to measure the ROI of PR – metrics that count:

Mentions – the total number of media mentions you’ve won Share of voice (SoV) – a measure of your media mentions versus competitors Media impressions – an estimate of the total eyeballs on your media coverage, calculated using predictive analytics software, not the old fashioned way of adding up the total circulation of the titles you’re published in
Social engagements – a measure of social shares and other engagements that articles containing your mentions generated Sentiments – a statistical analysis of the language used across your media coverage to determine if the sentiment is positive or negative Backlinks – a measure of the quality and quantity of the backlinks generated from your media coverage

Beyond that, you should have at least some insight into the actual PR work weekly done by your agency. Think of it as sales. Despite the fact that sales representatives are measured by success, no sales reporting meeting ends with “Did you sell anything? No? Let’s talk next week.”

You need visibility into what happened along the way:

Outreach emails sent Number of positive engagements Articles submitted for publication Interviews Completed Requests Responded To

To be fair, there are a lot of data points for the PR team to report on, and maybe they won’t share their entire media list with you, but it’s not unreasonable to get some insights into the process.

Website metrics

PR is an extremely effective link-building strategy that brings long-term benefits for any company that leverages organic search as a marketing channel. If this applies to you, your PR team or agency should report on the links generated and the website metrics of the media outlets that you gain backlinks from.

The acid test is of course how much organic traffic is entering your website. If this metric is dovetailing upwards in line with your media mentions and associated backlinks, you can be confident that your PR efforts are helping to move the needle.

When the price is right

Most firms are very opaque in their pricing because it’s to their advantage. The obvious factors influencing pricing are industry expertise and the value of order (e.g., the number of PR campaigns). However, behind closed doors, there is usually a price range (between $2,000 and $5,000 on the low end, and up to $50,000 for blue chip) that they can’t go below or above, depending on how meaningful the value is they can deliver.

*Under $5,000 per month: *You should move the needle and see a significant trickle of activity. If you’re in a competitive market, you may be outspent, and your share of mentions (compared to your competition) may be lower. Still, you’re going public in a meaningful way, even if not particularly aggressively.

*Between $5,000 and $10,000 per month: *This should be sufficient for a startup or growing company in a niche market that wants to build credibility, get more eyeballs on the brand, broadcast announcements, and power their SEO strategy. You can expect a steady stream of placements on various media outlets that matter to you. At the higher end of the spectrum, you can expect additional benefits – like support at conferences or awards, media training for executives, and unique campaigns tailored to your needs.

*$10k-$20k per month: *Media Relations management, communications plan, support for internal communications management, and other comms-based marketing efforts such as social media.

*$20k+ per month: *Media relations management, strategic and comprehensive communications plan, internal communications management, crisis management and PR Stunt campaigns.

In the end, a lot rides on hiring the right PR firm, and before casting the die with a specific firm, it’s worth doing your research. Do not get ripped off by vague promises from “self-appointed” PR specialists with a glorified media list.

Do yourself a favor and ask for objective metrics, determine performance goals, and in the end, weigh the costs against the direct benefits. Because, if used wisely, even the modest PR budget can lead quite literally to everlasting media wins and put you in the spotlight, ahead of your competition.

We can help you to engineer a smart pivot in uncertain times (for less than you’re spending now), let’s connect for a 30-min call.