I’m a PR pro, so naturally, I understand the value of public relations. I’ve seen firsthand the benefits and opportunities that come from a feature in the New York Times, Forbes, Mashable and more. Our clients have too. But I also understand, as most of us in the business do, that not everyone sees the value in public relations and if we’re being honest with ourselves, not every C-level exec that we work with understands what we do at the beginning of our relationship. That’s why a new study which shows that more top executives are seeing the value in PR is welcome news in the communications biz.
According to a PRSA/MWW Group study released last month, 93 percent of top executives say they think public relations is just as important to their companies as other forms of communication like marketing and advertising. Well would you look at that!
The study, which gathered information from more than 200 companies, also found that 97 percent of business leaders surveyed think that CEOs should understand the role of corporate reputation management and 98 percent say they think it’s important for other C-level execs to have some knowledge of PR skills.
Many of our clients’ key executives have differing views about PR. Some are well versed, asking pointed questions about strategic outreach and ad rate values. Others are happy just to see their names in headlines. As PR professionals, it is helpful to have client contacts who understand the business, and know how many hours of work can go into one or two good media hits. If those contacts understand that a great feature in a top publication is worth a little waiting, it’s likely they understand the return on investment that PR provides.
The truth is advertising and marketing are not always enough. Consumers want facts and can often recognize propaganda. Seeing a makeup brand that’s been advertised in well-produced TV commercials simply can’t have the same effect on a woman as seeing it recommended by an editor at her favorite magazine. Good PR builds credibility and increases brand recognition. Some marketers believe PR to be the toughest discipline to measure ROI. But for those of our clients who track the website clicks following a big media hit, the boost is almost always obvious.
C-level executives can be as involved or uninvolved with their company’s PR efforts as they like. While it’s beneficial to have an open and communication-driven relationship, we can handle C-level execs who would prefer to be out of the loop. What we do hope those business leaders understand is that yes, PR does cost money, but it’s worth it if you’re using a top PR firm. In the end, PR makes executives’ lives easier. We build brand recognition, increase visibility and help bring marketing efforts full circle by spreading key messages. Plus we act as researchers, writers, social media experts and company spokespeople: talk about bang for your buck!
From my standpoint, this study demonstrates a positive shift. As PR pros we have always known we need our clients. It’s good to know that our clients are seeing our efforts more and more as a need as well.