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Show, Don’t Tell: Measuring PR’s Worth

Posted At: November 21, 2012 5:22 P.M.
By Becca Bryant

What is public relations?

You will more than likely never get the same response from any two PR professionals. This is because PR encompasses so many different aspects.

PR is strategic communication. PR is creative problem solving. PR is fostering and maintaining relationships.

So, why do only 11 percent of people think PR is a “valuable job”?

This perception may be caused by many individuals being unclear on what PR professionals actually do. Many people think PR is “spinning” something in order for others to act — whether that act be buying a product or service or supporting a cause. We must first clear up the misrepresentation of PR.

The Public Relations Society of America has defined PR as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relations between organizations and their publics.” This definition grasps the basic concept, but no simple definition can explain the lengthy list of responsibilities we hold.

“One of the great things about public relations is that you are working at the interface… with everyone and everything that can substantially impact the outcome of an organization,” said Kurt P. Stocker, as mentioned in the Plank Center’s “Legacies from Legends in Public Relations.”

No relationship can flourish without communication. The PR team serves as the primary communicator for a company both internally and externally. PR professionals use specific strategies and tactics to connect with each unique audience to achieve a common goal.

Stocker said, “In public relations it is all about the enterprise, the ability of the organization to meet its goals, accomplish its plans and meet the measurements consistent with its mission.”

If the value of PR is not completely revealed through implementation, it must be shown through documented effectiveness. It comes down to measurement. We research, plan and implement, but we must never forget to evaluate.

We must calculate the success of our efforts. This measurement can be done through Web analysis, social media engagement, behavior shift or overall engagement. We must assess our efficiency in order to determine if and how well the goals were accomplished.

We need to not only tell people what PR is, but we also need to show them. People cannot argue with facts. This is why it is so important to collect tangible data to prove our worth and contribution.

Bill Gates said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.” One of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world knows the value of PR . . . do you?


  1. Post comment

    Awesome article. Great insight!! Being a pr major we must be able to show what we can do.

  2. Post comment

    This is a great article! I’m currently a public relations major and when people ask me to explain the main purpose of PR the second question they usually ask is why is that important for a business. This article is great because it’s so true that we have to be able to show rather than tell.


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