Two thirds of PR pros can’t prove their work helps their business or client

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Two thirds of PR pros can’t prove their work helps their business or client Duncan is an award-winning technology industry analyst, specialising in cloud computing, blockchain, martech and edge computing.


Just one third of PR professionals align their activity with commercial goals, according to research from CoverageBook.

The survey of over 350 senior PR and marketing professionals reveals a significant disconnect between how the PR industry measures and reports on activity and what senior leaders and budget holders expect to see. 

This research comes at a time when clients are putting increased scrutiny on PR teams to demonstrate impact. While the industry is finally putting outdated metrics like AVE (used by just 7% of respondents) to bed – there’s no consensus on how to prove the value of PR and communications.

To help build that consensus and allow every PR to prove the value of their work, CoverageBook is launching CoverageImpact, a revolutionary free tool designed to simplify PR reporting and impact measurement. The tool aims to bridge the gap between PR professionals’ activities and their clients’ commercial goals, ensuring that there’s no disconnect between agency and client or within a business.

This is particularly important as less than half of PR professionals currently consider new biz and sales when measuring the impact of their work – just 41% of UK respondents and 34% of US respondents take the new business/sales pipeline into account. These numbers drop significantly when asked about investment generation – 14% of UK respondents and 13% of US respondents. 

So what are they measuring? Well unsurprisingly, the focus is on outputs and audience, with 96% citing target audience as a key measurement criteria and 66% high volumes of coverage. 

Lack of commercial proof has a financial impact

The result of all this lack of commercial certainty? Unfortunately, it’s budget cuts. When asked about their 2023 budgets, 31% of all respondents said they had seen cuts (33% agencies, and 22% in-house).

Unsurprisingly, 50% of those respondents believe this would have been less likely if they could better prove commercial relevance. Breaking that figure down clearly shows the correlation between impact proof and budget decisions, with 75% of agency respondents and 25% of in-house respondents in the UK agreeing with that statement, alongside 79% of agency respondents and 21% of in-house respondents in the USA. 

Commenting on the findings, Alastair McCapra, CIPR CEO, said: “These findings show how PR practitioners are putting more time into measurement and evaluation, but the lack of a common approach is costing us credibility. With one in three PR budgets being cut and a sluggish economy, we need to be more effective than ever in telling our story, and communicating the impact and value of our work.” 

When asked about the biggest challenges they face in measurement, 54% of all respondents cited a lack of a universal measurement framework, while 52% mentioned a lack of measurement tools. These findings underscore the urgent need for tools that simplify measurement and reporting, making it easier for PR professionals to demonstrate the value of their work.

Introducing CoverageImpact

CoverageImpact, developed by the creators of CoverageBook and Answer The Public, offers a simple solution for turning coverage tracker spreadsheets into visually appealing ‘coverage over time’ graphics. With CoverageImpact, users can easily add impact data to their reports without the need for complex pivot tables or data visualisation skills. The tool is compatible with popular PR tools such as Excel, Google Sheets, Cision, MuckRack, TalkWalker, Meltwater, and CoverageBook, making it accessible to PR professionals worldwide.

Gary Preston, CEO & co-founder at CoverageBook, said: “The truth is everybody needs to level up on telling the story of their impact; how their work correlates to organisational impact – the stuff leadership and boards actually care about. We know this is happening in small pockets, there are some case studies of PR measurement already.

“But only a few can afford dedicated teams with Python, Excel & Data viz skills to do the job. Our aim is to democratise PR measurement for everyone to start having credible impact stories.”

In addition to simplifying reporting, the tool is designed to help PR practitioners start credible conversations with senior business leaders and budget holders, create graphs that support strategic decision-making, and save time in generating reports.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

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