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Proving the value of your PR work
By Kim Harrison,
Consultant, Author and Principal of www.cuttingedgepr.com
One of the toughest tasks you face as a PR professional is proving the value of your work. Research overwhelmingly shows that PR is worth many times its cost to employers and clients. But PR professionals often overlook promoting this worth. You are too busy working on behalf of others to do a soft sell on your own behalf. No one else will promote your worth, so you should do it for yourself.
My own experience bears this out. In hindsight I spent too many years with my head down, working long hours. I feel I didn't have time to attend to the politics and to the self-promotion. I should have; even though I held various PR management positions, I would have been even more influential by applying more of the tips below. Follow them up and you will enhance your career:
Get your boss or client to sign off on the plan. In this way they can't later claim they didn't know what you intended to do or just went along with it. Get them to literally sign a hard copy of your document, or ask them to indicate by return email that they approve your plan. This tangible commitment is likely to motivate them to support your work more than they would otherwise (the psychological principle of reciprocation and commitment).
Make a presentation to your boss and/or your management committee on the key points and rollout of your plan. Brief other functional managers and relevant staff. Outline the broad points in your organizational newsletter. Brief relevant external contractors such as your advertising agency and PR consultancy.
Especially avoid the trap of using AVEs – advertising value equivalence. Evidence shows that trying to put a figure on the value of publicity coverage by comparing it with the cost of placing advertisements in the same space or time is misleading and false.
Regular reporting will lift the profile of the PR function and keep PR in the minds of people you deal with. It will help to identify gaps in measurement techniques and enable you to adjust tactics progressively.
Don't try to put a gloss on everything in your reporting. Make it clear to stakeholders that no program is perfect and that you will learn from mistakes in the interests of continuous improvement. Perfect results look a bit fake to the experienced reviewer, so don't be afraid to mention areas needing improvement.
By following these tips you will be able to clearly show the good value obtained from public relations activities. This will enable you to justify budgets and increase management confidence in your PR role.
About the Author
Kim Harrison is a recognized authority in the public relations field. His website, www.cuttingedgepr.com, provides a wealth of informative articles and resources on public relations techniques and management.
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