“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about” said Oscar Wilde. We are not sure if we agree: “Is all PR good PR?”

We had a chat with the expert Lis Anderson from Ambitious PR to shed some light. Here’s an extract, the full version can be found on the ADLIB website.

ADLIB: How would you define PR in 2015?

lis-anderson-ambitious-prLis Anderson (pictured right): PR has always been at the centre of understanding the art and science of building relationships: listening, understanding what interests audiences and ultimately how to share information with people to engage them.

But thanks to a 24-hour news cycle, digital platforms, the importance of SEO, data, analytics and the social environment, its future is shifting.

PR is taking a lead in content marketing, owned media and social community. And, increasingly moving into paid media too. It’s broadening its digital and technical skills set, its portfolio of services, measurement tools and ultimately its value to clients.

In a world focused on building relationships, it’s no surprise that the PR sector in 2015/16 is in a great place. PR content focuses on building relationships and thanks to its footing in media relations pitching (content distribution is not dissimilar) it knows how to identify, share and maximise great content.

It’s this backdrop that gives PR the ability to deliver across different platforms, making it an important tool for any business.

ADLIB: There is the never-ending debate that “all PR is good PR”, what is your opinion on this?

Lis: When the news of VW’s falsified US emissions tests broke, shares fell by 19% wiping billions off its value. I’d say that was all the evidence you need to say that not all PR is good PR. And VW is not alone. Bad PR can be costly and sometimes beyond repair.

But there is a viewpoint that for unknown brands, bad PR at least gets people talking and the recent launch of Rumblr (fighting app) goes some way to support that, although there’s more to the story than simply ‘Tinder for Fighting’. I don’t agree.

Whilst you may not have built up a reputation to defend in the first place, is that really where you want start a relationship with your audiences?

Warren Buffett had a point when he said: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that you’ll do things differently.”

ADLIB: Now the million dollar question, just as an attempt and to share your personal view: How would you define the value of PR?

Lis: PR can be incredibly valuable to a business and in my experience relies heavily on buy-in at board level from the outset and proper consultancy.

“Only when you know what you’re trying to achieve can you properly measure its success”


Like any decent strategy, you need to start with goals and that means being clear about benefits to the business as a result of the PR activity you are implementing – only when you know what you’re trying to achieve and how you’re going to try and achieve it can you properly measure its success and importantly value it.

This boils down to measuring two areas: Outputs (measuring the mechanics of what’s produced – was it on time, on message, well written, on budget?), Out-takes (what happened – how many views, downloads, shares, attendees?) and Outcomes (the actual benefits to the business – rise in sales, quality of leads, voted in, change in customer behaviour).

These ‘measurable’ goals could include, for example, reaching out to new audiences in a new sector to boost sales; changing an attitude in what people believe and feel so they engage; educating target audiences about something they didn’t’ know before so they respond; creating a change in attitude towards your business to prompt an action; or raising awareness with a particular message to change legislation. Operational or financial PR can and should be measured against a business goal. Always.

For anyone thinking that the value of PR is about the advertising value of press clippings, please stop. Instead, take time to review PR industry guidelines: The Barcelona Principles 2.0, an updated set of guidelines for measuring the impact of communications. Worthwhile for anyone working in marketing communications.

Thank you Lis for sharing your thoughts.