September 7, 2022
Authority as ROI: A New Way to Think About Measurement
PR firms talk at length about concepts such as thought leadership and creating unique POVs that serve your audience. We tend to wax eloquent about participating skillfully in the conversations that matter most as an authority. That’s because we know that when your audience views you with trust and respect, they’re more likely to come to your firm for help in solving their toughest challenges.
Still, it’s natural for you to ask one simple question. Is our PR investment really worth it?
It can be difficult to draw a direct line between the PR campaigns you invest in and the client engagements you secure as a result. And if you’re not able to accurately measure the ROI of your PR efforts, how can you be sure you’re allocating resources in the most impactful areas possible?
You need to look at the right metrics at the right time. Because the truth is, authority is the ultimate ROI of an effective PR program. Assessing its full impact requires a holistic perspective and a willingness to prioritize long-term value over short-term wins.
The Value of Authority
Our goal at Greentarget is to help clients establish and demonstrate their authority. But what does that really mean? And more specifically, what will it look like when your firm is viewed as an authority in your industry?
First, it’s important to understand that the terms “thought leader” and “authority” are not interchangeable.
Thought Leaders Share Expertise
Thought leaders are ahead of the curve and play a key role in shaping the direction of their industry. However, they tend to share their knowledge in a one-way fashion — usually through owned media channels that don’t invite much discourse. As such, thought leaders aren’t typically concerned with how their audience receives and interprets the information they put out into the world. They simply want to reach as broad an audience as possible with the messages that are most important to their organization.
Authorities Serve Their Audience
By contrast, authorities go beyond dispensing expertise. They carefully consider how to position their knowledge in ways that matter to their audience. Yes, they are bona fide thought leaders in their own right. But true authorities express their POV to spark dialogue, solicit feedback, and test their ideas and perspectives among other experts.
Furthermore, true authorities aren’t simply heard — they’re heeded. Unlike thought leaders who are usually more reactionary, authorities shape the conversations that matter and inspire action as a result. And they’re willing to embrace feedback, consider new viewpoints and pivot when necessary.
To achieve this level of influence, you’ll need to:
- Develop unique points of view that are useful, timely, and relevant
- Invite others to question, challenge, and iterate on the ideas you share
- Get comfortable challenging non-experts and correcting misinformation
- Create tension with POVs that generate healthy disagreement and debate
- Participate skillfully in media interviews, conversations, and other uncontrolled communication environments
Anyone can be a thought leader, but not everyone can be an authority. That’s why Greentarget’s approach to PR is oriented around helping firms discover and harness their authority.
The ROI of Authority
In our highly digitized landscape, we’ve become obsessed with quantitative metrics. And there’s no shortage of data points we can analyze to measure the effectiveness of various communication tactics.
For example, it’s common to assess your PR campaigns by tracking how often you’re cited by credible media outlets and other authorities in your field. Or, you might look at marketing metrics such as organic web traffic, time on page, click-through rates, and conversion rates to analyze how well you’re reaching your broad audience.
But as important as these quantitative numbers are, they don’t tell the full story.
It’s About Quantity and Quality
Measuring the ROI of authority requires you to think about qualitative indicators and insights that round out the quantitative data. Instead of only asking how many people you’re reaching, you should be evaluating how effectively you’re engaging the prospects that matter to your firm the most.
After all, it’s better to have one quality conversation that leads to a high-value engagement than 100 conversions from wrong-fit prospects. But if you look at your standard KPIs in a vacuum, those 100 leads look a whole lot better than one conversation.
To be sure you’re measuring the right indicators of authority’s ROI, ask yourself:
- How often are our ideas sparking real dialogue among the people we’re most interested in reaching?
- Are our POVs being iterated upon and therefore becoming sharper and smarter over time?
- To what extent are we challenging existing narratives or assumptions within our industry?
- What kind of feedback are we getting from our network when we put ourselves out there with a new or provocative point of view?
During the pandemic, Freightos, a digital booking platform for global shipping and logistics, discovered they possessed valuable data about supply chain issues. They determined they had information and a level of analysis that the industry could benefit from, and started a podcast to share their insights about shipping data, including an index of ocean container travel times. Subsequently, The New York Times ran a feature story about their impact.
What’s interesting is that Freightos didn’t measure success based on how many people accessed and downloaded their useful, salient data. And though they were excited to be featured in The New York Times, that was not the end-all, be-all for them. What signaled success for them was hearing excitement and buzz from the friends, colleagues, and influencers in their own network. That’s when the ROI of their PR efforts was fully crystallized in their minds — when they were recognized as an authority.
Leading vs. Lagging Indicators of PR Success
It’s also important to understand that many of the standard KPIs used to evaluate the effectiveness of PR are lagging indicators of success. But your authority is a leading indicator of future results. In other words, the qualitative measures of impact we discussed earlier are both results in their own right and assurance that you’re headed in the right direction.
The initial evidence (i.e. leading indicators) that your firm’s authority is yielding ROI can be found in the quality of the conversations you’re having and the anecdotal affirmations of your influence in your network.
Then, over time, you’ll see additional lagging indicators of your authority’s ROI, such as:
- Revenue. Your revenue is growing over time, and you’re reaching desired growth targets.
- Geography. You consistently see media coverage in the markets that matter the most to you.
- Talent. Your firm is an employer of choice and you succeed in attracting and retaining top talent as a result.
- Profitability. Because your authority yields more right-fit conversations, you’re able to focus on the engagements that lead to the greatest profit.
- Capabilities. You continually identify new services and offerings that evolve with your clients’ changing needs.
In other words, realizing the full ROI of your authority requires you to take the long view.
Invest In PR to See the ROI of Your Firm’s Authority
Although establishing your firm’s authority is a process that requires patience and perseverance, you’ll never see the ROI you’re after without taking the first step. That means you can’t afford to put it off or hope for the best. You need to work with a partner who knows how to build your authority and leverage it in ways that contribute to your firm’s immediate and long-term success.
Greentarget clients have seen a significant return on their PR investment, both in terms of the authority they earn and the business engagements they secure as a result.
We can help your firm, too — but only if you make establishing your authority the priority it needs to be.
It’s time for you to seize the mantle. So let’s talk.