Does PR increase sales?

Organizations are increasingly looking to calculate the ROI of their public relations campaign. It’s easy to understand why since they spend significant amounts of money and want to get the best return.

The question often comes up: can PR increase sales? The answer is clearly yes. And like any other return on investment calculation, you need realistic goals, measurable actions, alignment with marketing and sales efforts, and the ability to adjust to results.


Choosing the right KPIs

Many companies currently rely on integrated marketing and PR campaigns. And that is just as well, since it multiplies the means to achieve their objectives.

So, how to choose the right performance indicators (KPIs)? And above all, how to measure the impact on sales? The answer is simple and complex at the same time; there is no “one size fits all” approach that is applicable to all organizations.

Therefore, defining KPIs should always be done in collaboration between clients and their communications firm. Companies know their sales cycle and the particularities of their market. It’s vital that PR efforts are tied to this and that KPIs reflect this reality.


Cross-referencing sales with reach and engagement

Take for instance our client in the pharmaceutical field with whom we identified KPIs integrating business, engagement and reach criteria. The campaign focused on making the business more distinctive for its commercial clients (B2B) and on building consumer pride (B2C).

Of the six KPIs defined, one focused specifically on fluctuating sales. Each month, the business results were cross-referenced with other indicators such as the reach of ads or the tone of comments collected on social media. At the height of the campaign, a 10% increase in sales was recorded. Does the increase result solely from the PR program? It would be presumptuous to say so, but when things are going well, including sales, it becomes difficult to deny the impact of a PR campaign.


Results for now… and down the road

Having performance indicators in the short, medium and long term is also essential. Of course, we all hope that results will be seen as soon as possible. But to think that publishing an article or sharing a video will translate instantly and automatically into a sales increase is far-fetched. Having said that, certainly, we sometimes notice impacts that occur immediately.

Last January, we produced a video and developed a distribution strategy for a client in the field of mineral exploration. The day after the release of the video capsule, shares rose by more than 30%. The president of the company directly linked the noticeable increase to the broadcast of the video.

However, the impact of a PR campaign on the volume of business may not be felt right away. After all, we’re talking about initiatives that build brand awareness, improve reputation and help the public remember a brand. It must therefore be ensured that the chosen KPIs can be measured over a sufficiently long period of time. For example, for our client NOVIPRO, with whom we are developing a pan-Canadian IT trends study, we calculate the business leads from uploading content over a six-month period.


Following the consumer’s path

Defining several KPIs and tracking them in real time during campaigns ultimately helps to identify potential pitfalls and make necessary adjustments.

Last year, for a Canadian e-commerce customer, we ran a successful B2C program that generated a number of media and social hits. A 66% increase in traffic was recorded on the website. However, their conversion rate indicator, sales, did not grow as strongly. By analyzing the KPIs used throughout the campaign, we were able to highlight an element to correct in their shopping cart, in order to increase the conversion rate. Hence the importance of focusing on multiple variables and monitoring their evolution throughout the campaign.

Want to know more about our vision of PR ROI? Contact us to talk to one of our professionals!


Jean-Michel Nahas About the author
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