Responsible for a Marketing Budget? 9 Ways to Justify Spend on PR

It's no secret that public relations isn't always the first priority for marketing leaders. When you plan how to spend your precious marketing dollars it's usually about return on investment. It makes sense—the goal of marketing is to get as much new business for as little money as possible.

But the growth-at-all-costs mindset isn't in vogue like it was a few years ago. Customers care more than ever about the brands they support. Whether you're pitching the board or just getting buy-in from your boss, here are nine ways to justify spending on PR.

1. PR Means Credibility

Did you know 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as recommendations from a friend? For better or worse, most people believe what they read. And when you invest in PR, customers are reading about you instead of your competitors.

A single press release won’t win over your customers. But a perfectly placed mention of your brand in a thought-provoking article on a trusted industry website is a great start. Gaining confidence and credibility in the eyes of your target audience takes more than a swipe right.

Like any successful relationship it takes time. Investing in PR means playing the long game. Of course, you can always try and get lucky on the first date, but it’s exactly that—luck. If you want customers to know, like, and trust you then you have to invest in a mutually beneficial relationship.

2. PR Drives Business Outcomes

The days of promising performance without an ounce of data to back it up are over. It doesn’t matter how clever your presentation is or how perfect your pitch, if it doesn’t drive real world results, nobody cares.

 Savvy marketers know every dollar in their marketing budget has a job to do. You can’t afford to invest in anything that’s not going to work. That’s why our agency is built around driving measurable outcomes. In the high-growth technology sector alone we’ve launched more than 100 startup brands, raised $2B+ in strategic investments, and lead over a dozen IPOs.

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3. Customers Care About the Brands They Support

In 2018, Casper opened The Dreamery, a whimsical storefront filled with private sleep pods, complimentary PJs, and an “outrageously comfortable bed.” Now I don’t think Casper is abandoning their business model. Instead, they realize that in order to win customers you have to connect with them on a more personal level.

If you’re wondering where the ROI is of opening a nap bar, the launch was covered by Business Insider, Fast Company, and AdWeek garnering more than 115 million impressions. In the world of direct-to-consumer shopping, brands are the business. From Casper to Quip, D2C brands are finding novel ways to win over their customers.

4. PR Improves SEO

PR outcomes have a halo effect not just on your brand, but also on your website. The number of referring domains (aka backlinks) to your website is a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. This means every time your brand is linked to from another domain, your own website actually becomes more valuable.  

How valuable you ask? Search engine optimizers pay thousands of dollars for high quality backlinks from authoritative sites. According to Brian Dean, Founder of Backlinko, “The number of referring domains is one of Google’s most important ranking factors.”

Search-engine-optimized articles aren’t known for their quality. Instead of paying for backlinks in guest posts you didn’t write, on websites nobodies ever heard of, invest in a solid PR strategy.

5. Good PR Opens Doors

Public relations professionals have been called a lot of things like spin doctors and liars. The truth is good PR doesn’t rely on misdirection. It’s telling the right story to the right people in the right place at the right time—and then amplifying that story to expand its reach and impact.

Good PR puts you in front of the people and publications you need to grow your business. Whether you’re selling to Main Street or industry-leading enterprises, PR will help you get your foot in the door until the deal is done.

6. It's Easier than Ever to Measure the Value of PR

Traditionally, it’s been difficult to tie PR to revenue, leads, or even website traffic. But that’s not the case today. UTM parameters attached to backlinks on websites make it easier than ever to understand the impact of PR efforts.

In addition to UTM parameters, multi-touch attribution models, cross domain tracking, and event-based analytics platforms have all helped PR professionals measure and optimize their impact across the entire marketing funnel. Although not every placement is going to lead to (trackable!) net new revenue, tracking ROI will show just how valuable it is.

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7. PR Helps You Stand Out from the Competition

Reporters are always looking for a scoop. However, it’s unlikely they’ll give you too many opportunities to make your pitch. If you’re not ready, your competitors will be.

If reporters do call, and you’re up against a tight deadline, it pays to have your press kit in order. A complete press kit includes logos, headshots, brand photography, and typically a few company descriptions.

When it comes time to IPO or getting acquired, every press mention could mean more money for your business. Defining your desired outcome and ensuring all of your efforts are aligned ultimately to that goal enables you to be prepared and march forward in support of that goal.

8. PR Grows Your Audience

A constant stream of good press can help your brand become a thought-leader. It can also help you establish an audience on social media.

If your newsfeed is anything like mine—it’s messy. There’s never been a greater need for curated content. People are desperate for reliable sources of information. Turning your business in a trusted industry source will have a massively positive impact on your business in terms of friends, followers, and funding.

9. PR Creates Branded Evergreen Content

When it comes to content, everyone has a different definition of what “good” means. The creative team wants it to have a catchy headline, the demand generation team wants it to have a form, the product marketing team wants to see a framework or flowchart.

Branded content from PR can easily meet all of the above goals and then some. In addition, long-form PR content can live on long after it’s published in the form of evergreen content. If you know how to pitch a reporter, you can position the article to be relevant long after it’s bumped off the homepage.

In the early days of marketing it was more art than science. In the last decade we’ve seen a seismic shift back to science. While they’ll always be some art to it, today you can’t convince your boss, let alone a boardroom, without some numbers to back it up.

As marketing has become more data-driven, so has PR. Anyone that tells you differently is living in the past. If you’re more interested in outcomes than impressions, then I invite you to explore our KPI-driven model for accountable PR.

Posted by Jordan Cohen