Last week Eric Wittke wrote a blog post on Flames on Fifth Avenue about the perception of the PR industry.

He described the answers he receives (the same we’ve all experienced) when he tells someone he’s in PR…and how irritating it is that people assume we lie or spin for a living.

And now, a new sitcom on NBC – Free Agents – isn’t helping our image (even though Molli Megasko tells me it’s hilarious).

This isn’t a new topic at Spin Sucks, but it seems that we have to continue repeating it, especially if we want the business world to take us seriously.

You see, what we do isn’t tangible. It’s easy for people to understand advertising because they can see it, touch it, feel it.

But can you see, touch, or feel a reputation? Or an avoided crisis? Or customer retention? Internally you can, but most of the people who assume we help corporations lie don’t see the tangible results.

I commented on Eric’s blog post:

We have to, have to, have to show our worth in terms of dollars and cents. The pundits who talk about awareness and impressions and sentiment have clearly never run a P&L. It makes me nuts. I run two businesses. If one of my peeps came to me and said, “We have to keep this program going because it’s creating positive sentiment, I would laugh them out of the room.”

This isn’t about sentiment and impressions and mentions. Sure, those things help with awareness. But they’re not the end all, be all.

I know there is a debate about whether or not PR can or should help with sales, directly, but I’m here to tell you, if you do not figure out how it does, you will not have a job in the future.

Following is a list of things you should be accountable for and measuring toward every day:

  • Sales
  • Lead nurturing
  • Lead generation
  • Lead conversion
  • Thought leadership
  • Web traffic
  • Brand awareness

I challenge you to create a goal for each of the seven categories above, for the next three months, and see what kind of effect you can have on the business in the last quarter of the year.

If you need help with ideas for each, leave a comment below and I’m happy to help you brainstorm. I know some of our regular commenters will help, too.

If you take this challenge and truly measure your efforts, I guarantee you’ll enter 2012 with your colleagues and peers excited about working with you next year…because you’ll have, overnight, gone from an expense to an investment.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich