Clients want value, and in PR, value can often be subjective. And as a result, the way in which agencies need to deliver value is changing.

When it comes to a traditional PR function, press office activities deliver coverage, which feeds into marketing channels. This collectively supports sales, customer acquisition, investment, and ultimately, commercial growth. 

Through this model, the value of PR is defined by two metrics.


The first is coverage, and, ideally, coverage which strikes an effective balance between the quality of publication and the total volume of articles being delivered. There is no hard and fast way of achieving this, which is why agencies use data to establish value. Here is where things become complex.

Unique Monthly Views and Domain Authorities are regularly cited to establish the value of a publication. Media titles are categorised into tiers, though factors that determine Tier 1 and Tier 2 coverage are rarely uniform between clients. The distinction between ‘national’ and ‘international’ titles has become blurred and there is an ongoing debate over the value of coverage behind a paywall. 

Overall, the use of different data is an attempt to provide a quantitative value to qualitative content – a subjective exercise but one that is necessary to satisfy the next method of assessing value. In essence, bringing a bit more black & white, good or not so good, into an industry that has to date operated in the grey.  

Commercial growth

The second metric is the direct and indirect impact coverage has in supporting commercial growth. This is topline and number-led. Top-level decision-makers responsible for budgets and reporting to the board are concerned with value that can be translated into numbers. Removed from the detail, they analyse and assess progress of all business channels to monitor growth relative to the commercial objectives set. Time and context are limited, which is why data is so important. 

If targets are being achieved, backed by positive coverage metrics, then the value of PR is clear. If coverage metrics have dropped and commercial objectives are not being realised, the value of PR is brought into question. Regardless of the context, PR activities can be removed or reduced. 

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Unmeasurable value

We can see there is a link between value and metrics. However, it does not take into account the unmeasurable value PR does provide, which is becoming a more prominent demand. 

PR agencies sit between their clients and stakeholders. They not only disseminate information but receive, monitor and relay information back to their clients. This information can range from market analysis, competitor monitoring, target audience trends, government regulations and announcements through to geopolitical and economic trends.  

This knowledge sharing empowers clients on two fronts. It encourages the constant re-evaluation of PR and marketing strategies to ensure they are agile and receptive to the market, news agenda and events. It also feeds into the broader commercial objectives by giving valuable intelligence to decision makers. PR provides both intelligence as well as an  outsider’s perspective.

As the industry evolves and adapts to new innovations including AI, the value proposition for PR will change. Quantifiable metrics will remain important, yet the so-called unmeasurable value of PR in the form of knowledge sharing, consulting and advice will reach higher prominence. 

Companies want an intelligent approach to PR that goes beyond saturating the media with press releases and articles promoting positive stories. A critical eye is warranted – combined with sophisticated metrics, this is where true PR value lies.

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