Gini Dietrich

How to Prove PR Value to the CEO

By: Gini Dietrich | April 3, 2018 | 
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PR ValueLast night, Chris Penn and I had a conversation about PR metrics.

It started because in his newly launched business, Brain+Trust Insights, he has used Math™ to develop a way for you to track LinkedIn shares.

If you didn’t happen to notice, about two months ago, LinkedIn stopped sharing share counts…which totally bites.

But he has figured out a way to get them back for you.

After my head blew off (not literally) and I yelled, “OF COURSE YOU DID!”, I called him a modern day superhero.

There is no one else in the marketing world who can figure out how to do this other than Penn.

His brain just works differently than most (and I envy it). He truly is a superhero.

(If you’re interested in getting your LinkedIn share numbers back, contact Chris directly.)

The superhero talk led us to a larger conversation about metrics and proving PR value to the CEO.

Five Ways to Prove PR Value to the CEO

After he said, “MAKE ME MONEY!” is how you prove PR value to the CEO, we talked about how most organizations STILL report fan, followers, number of media stories, and impressions.

We’re not even at engagement and shares yet. Just the vanity metrics. And that makes me sad.

It should also make you sad because it definitely makes the CEO sad.

He or she could not care less about followers, but because that’s all we’re reporting, they don’t know any differently.

We must do better.

You must do better.

To prove PR value to the CEO, you must demonstrate how the work you’re doing is making the company money.

Here’s how:

  • Understand the person who is leading the company. What makes them tick. Who they admire. What keeps them awake at night. And how they report their success to shareholders, a board, or employees.
  • Align your goals with the other marketing disciplines—and with the business, overall.
  • Define your benchmarks and align them with the key performance indicators.
  • Consistently communicate your wins—and losses.
  • Prove your return-on-investment.

Understand the CEO

I am often asked, “How do I get my CEO to care?” or some version of that question.

The answer is simple: ask them what matters to them.

It’ll be hard to get an answer out of them the first few times, but keep asking.

Ask:

  • Which companies do you admire? Why?
  • Are there leaders you look up to? Why?
  • Are there leaders who get under your skin, either because you completely disagree with their approach or because they’re doing things so well?
  • Which companies do you think will bomb? Why?
  • Do you think we are going to have another recession in the next 12-18 months? Why?
  • How does the new tax plan affect our business?
  • Anything that’s in the news right now—the quotas on immigration judges, Russian coercion, Stormy Daniels, what happens if Mueller is fired, and the like.

These are the types of things your leader(s) is concerned with.

Your showing them an increase in fans and followers is the surest way to get yourself dismissed from more important conversations an decisions.

Align Your Goals

Learn from your marketing brethren. They are masters at aligning their goals with that of the business.

Talk to them. Figure out how they do it. And they imitate them.

Not only should you align your goals with the business goals, but you should do so with marketing and any other discipline, such as SEO and advertising.

Imagine a new product is being launched.

You’re responsible for everything in the PESO model, and you’ve been working hard to have your plan ready to execute.

Advertising is getting ready to buy print, TV, radio, and outdoor. They’re also doing a video campaign that extends the ads further.

Marketing is going to launch an updated brand, redesign the website, send VIP packages to current customers, and create a sales package for prospects.

Everyone works in their silos, does their jobs, and executes well.

But nothing is aligned and, in some cases, you’re duplicating efforts.

Sit with your colleagues and discuss what each are planning for the product launch.

Write it all down on the white board in your conference room.

Circle the things that overlap—video campaign, website launch, VIP packages, and the like.

Reassign responsibilities and put people in charge for the tactics that overlap, such as social media, content, and paid social.

Define Benchmarks

This is often skipped and it’s one of the most important things to do.

How can you prove what kinds of results you’ve had if you don’t know where you started?

In some cases, your benchmarks might be zero. And that’s OK! But get them written down with a date so you have something.

At the very least, you should have numbers for the following:

  • Your website or blog’s domain authority
  • Your Google rankings on key search terms
  • The number of website visitors
  • The number of email addresses you added last year
  • Number of qualified leads you had last year
  • The sales conversions you had last year

Even if you’re starting in April or May or October, do the last 365 days.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

As you work and start to have some results, you must communicate.

You certainly can speak to fan and follower increases and number of stories place as a beginning.

But this is not where you end.

You talk about the results you’re having against the six benchmarks outlined above.

Discuss what’s working and what’s not working.

The recent Facebook algorithm changes have put everyone in a tizzy and it’s important for your CEO to have a top-level report on that.

Along with that report, discuss what you’re testing to see if you can increase organic reach and engagement.

He or she does not want to hear, “We just have to pay for more reach and engagement.”

That just isn’t true and it’s your job to figure out what it’ll take to do that…and then show the results from it.

To prove the PR value, you must test, take some risk, and report your findings.

In some cases, you’ll have wins…and in others, well, you won’t.

Communicate all of that and be open to discussions about other things to try.

Prove the ROI

If you can prove your communications efforts generated X number of leads, which turned into X number of customers, you no longer will be dismissed.

The six benchmarks listed above will help you get there…as will understanding what’s important to your CEO and how they think.

Your job is not to put a happy, shiny face on everything, which is easy to do by reporting follower numbers.

Your job is to communicate what’s happening out there in the real world.

It’s to be honest about why company A that your CEO admires so much has success with content, but you do not…and here’s why.

It’s to celebrate your wins, as they relate to actual customers converted or monies raised or donors added.

To prove PR value, your goals must be aligned with that of the business—and that includes integrating with other business units versus working in your silo.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

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