PR Math: Showing Value in PR

PR Math: Showing Value in PR

Girl math is one of my favorite new trends on TikTok. It’s one of those frivolous trends that gets reposted repeatedly and has people saying, “honestly, same,” each time they watch. 

Here’s the gist. The videos usually show a young woman explaining “girl math,” such as: if I buy something for $50, and then I return it – I’ve made $50. If it’s under $5, it’s basically free. And those concert tickets I bought months in advance are free because I spent that money so long ago. 

It got me thinking about PR math. It’s not as funny because so many people do it differently. How do you value PR? Is it through advertising value equivalency (AVE)? Is it through the number of media placements or the number of pitches sent out? Is it the number of likes your LinkedIn post gets or the number of X followers you have? (That still looks like a typo, so I want to point out that X = Twitter.) 

There are plenty of answers you could receive from firms across the world. Here are a few examples. 

It’s pretty standard not to use AVE anymore. PR is not advertising, so AVE is not a good indicator of PR success. Anyone can buy an ad anywhere, and using AVE confuses value with costs. Don’t use it. 

I once heard from a friend in PR that they had to send out 200 pitches for a client each time there was news. I was impressed! “You’re sending to 200 contacts that want to hear about this client or cover this beat?” No, she had to send out 200 pitches to hit a quota, not to achieve any real success. This client was big enough that they landed the big stories, but the other 190 pitches were just to show that work was being done by the agency. 

Lastly, we took over social media for a prominent mixed-use destination in Atlanta a few years ago that often touted its Twitter follower count. It was significant, and the account had the largest social media audience of any other development in the country at the time. When we got in there, though, there were thousands of bots. It took several months to get through and rid the account of these fake accounts to truly have a quality audience. 

At The Wilbert Group, we have a few Caroline-isms that we repeat. You may have heard them because they are more than just refrains – they are actually what we do and what we believe. My favorite is “We don’t do PR for PR’s sake.” And I think that’s the PR math I like the most. It’s less about showing that we can put up big audience numbers and engagement – though we do that for clients, too. 

It’s about driving our clients’ businesses forward. If being in only hyperlocal news outlets in a small Georgia town is what the client needs to elevate exposure about an upcoming development, then we won’t waste our energy pitching irrelevant outlets just to reach some quota. Similarly, we care more about engagement with our clients’ social media content than inflated follower counts. We show value by understanding our clients' business goals and then creating our PR plan to support those goals. It may not be a funny TikTok trend yet, but this PR math has worked to get our clients the exposure they need from the audiences they value most. 

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