A continuing talk that has been going on sporadically at the office has been about what value we, as PR and advertising professionals, bring to a company or organization.
The crux of the discussion is that we don’t create anything “tangible”. Working in public relations we get press for clients (but we don’t write the press), we can represent clients in a crisis, we can give our clients ideas to get their idea a target audience (whether it’s the press, or an internal audience, etc) or we can work as a campaign press secretary, among a number of other things we can do.
But in the end we don’t create anything physical. We don’t add to a company’s bottom line, if you look at the numbers on an excel spreadsheet. How do you link a PR campaign to any additional sales for a company? There’s just as much of a chance that the product was suddenly “loved”, or that word-of-mouth or better design is the culprit.
(at least that’s what they teach us in PR school)
My take is that communications professionals do add quite a bit of value to a corporation. Much of the time that value can’t be measured. Getting a company or person mentioned in the paper brings their identity to the attention of people who might not have known about them before.
This could lead to sales or additional mentions and more top-of-mind awareness. You see this the most in political campaigns, where the success or failure of your program can be measured in the results of one day. Presumably, if your messaging is correct then your candidate will win, or have significant movement in the polls.
Of course, there are a myriad of other factors that come into play for a campaign, but you get the idea.
The problem is not with PR or Advertising professionals, but lie with the business world (in my less than humble opinion) 😉 Business demands tangible results. We can hand them as many press releases and clips and mentions in the press as we want, but they don’t come with a number that can be plugged into an Excel Spreadsheet.
It’s slow going, but I think that we are starting to make a change in the business world. Smart professionals are realizing that their perception in the media is just as important as hitting sales numbers, possibly more important depending on their industry. (if their media perception is negative, that would impact sales, wouldn’t it?)