ROI/Evaluation Blog

Return on investment is to “measure the distribution and acceptance of messages and demonstrate a return on investment (ROI) to clients”(Watson,2013, p.2). ROI is something that can be difficult to figure out when it comes to public relations because it can often times be hard to say whether the audience purchases something because of PR, since PR a lot of times is through word of mouth, which is a communication method that can be difficult to measure. Watson says, “In reality few PR programmes can be measured in such a way because of the problems involved in putting a realistic and credible financial value to the results achieved”(2013, p.3).

For companies and clients, having employees that are exceptional PR people is a necessity to stand out amongst the rest. However, sometimes these PR efforts have to come to a halt or they may need to fire their agencies when there is not a sufficient ROI (return on investment) (Burke,2015, paragraph 1). This can result in public relations people to be less successful in getting the message out to a potential audience as well as they may have hoped. However, to improve a business’s ROI a company must choose appropriate tactics that are right for the type of business the client owns, and by choosing different strategies the business will really start seeing improvement in their return on investment (Burke,2015, paragraph 6).

Public relations and ROI go hand-in-hand because it is through PR people that we do what we do and buy what we buy, it isn’t because of looking at advertising commercials on the television but rather through word of mouth. PR strategist and blogger for The Huffington Post, Molly Borchers says, “Brands are built on what people are saying about you, not what you’re saying about yourself. People say good things about you when (a) you have a great product and (b) you get people to spread the word about it”(2014, paragraph 3).

Return on investment is a factor in PR that can become difficult to really measure, to help better the understanding of this, Borchers lists what experts have said are their best practices on PR measurement (2014).

In the beginning, ask “Why?”: Shonali Burke says, “Ultimately, your PR efforts should support your business objectives, so don’t stop asking, “Why?” until you get there.”

Agree on measurement goals upfront: Shonali says, “her biggest challenge in measuring the ROI in PR is that some companies sometimes think of measurement as an afterthought.”

Don’t just analyze outputs: Aaron Brown says, “This approach requires analysis against key competitors within target strategic areas in a defined set of media.”

Break down the silos: Deirdre Breakenridge said,”When you break down the silos you can show a more accurate picture of ROI.”

Use social media for a two-way dialogue: Jennifer Dulles says, “When brands need to measure sentiment or gauge whether opinions changed, they can simply ask.”

Give it time: “Julie Wright said the best measurement tool she ever had was a line out the door at her client’s store after an article hit on their product.”

The above expert advice can help to measure the ROI in relations to PR in ways that are simple, efficient and to the point. It can sometimes be a very difficult task but when done right, it will be worth the time and effort.




Borchers, M. (2014, March 26). Measuring the ROI of Public Relations: Five Experts Weigh In. In The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 24, 2015, from

Burke, L. (2015, June 30). Is Your PR Campaign Resulting in the ROI You’re Looking For?. In Did It. Retrieved November 23, 2015, from

Watson, T. (2013, March 7). ROI or evidence-based PR: The language of public relations evaluation. PRism, 3(1). Retrieved November 23, 2015, from


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