“The truth is that proper research can be executed for a small fraction of the PR budget – one percent or lower in some cases,” he argued. “While a level of investment is required, the better question might be what is the cost of not improving performance when competitors are improving theirs?”
Mark is right in that PR research doesn’t have to be expensive. The problem is that it’s not easy.
Measuring the influence of perception on behavior is complicated stuff, often beyond the skill set of standard-issue publicists and communication people. That’s one reason why so many agencies and departments treat PR as the end result of itself. They’ll count the number of samples handed out at a product launch, or calculate the “value” of press clippings in terms of how much it would cost to run the same amount of advertising.
It’s also why the PR industry has become like advertising, handing out scores of glitzy awards for creativity and implementation, regardless of whether the desired needles were actually moved.
But these kind of validations are like dancing about architecture. They mean whatever you can convince people they mean. And so we have the irony of needing good PR to sell the value of good PR.
To Mark’s point, the better approach could include bringing in experts like him. There are many good researchers, pollsters and strategists out there. Let them measure your PR by the value it creates, not by its process – however unique or productive.
Then you’ll know that you’re not just making noise. You’re making a difference.
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