Seeing ROI Takes Time, But Law Firm Public Relations Is Still Worthwhile
It would make things much easier for Berbay and our clients if we could say, “You’ll see a return on your PR investment in two months.” But when it comes to public relations for lawyers, determining ROI isn’t an exact science. PR isn’t like advertising where you can see the money you’ve spent right in front of you. Law firm public relations is a long game, with tactics that build on one another over time.
How Long Will It Take to See Results from PR?
It can take months or even a year to see the full extent of your efforts, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on them. You wouldn’t plant a tree and then dig it up because it didn’t grow overnight; public relations is the same. Following through on your PR and marketing goals is important because what you invest in them comes back to you exponentially if you are strategic and consistent.
However, if you’re looking for a slightly more specific estimate of when you’ll see a return on your PR investment, one of the first things to consider is the length of your campaign. A short, intense marketing push might only last a few weeks, and it shouldn’t take long after that to see results. For example, if you’re identifying a certain number of plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit to move the case forward for certification. With a longer-term campaign that is creating visibility for your intellectual property practice group, it will take more time to see an ROI. In either case, you should be tracking results constantly and fine tuning your investment accordingly.
ROI also depends on your measure of success. What results do you want to see, and when will you know you’ve achieved them? If your goal is “Get 200 people to attend our event,” that’s much easier to track and quantify than “Increase awareness of our firm among in-house counsel at tech companies.” It’s unlikely you’ll see instant ROI with the latter.
Remember that ROI isn’t always quantifiable in a dollar amount. PR can absolutely increase revenue, but it can also educate your target audience, bolster your reputation and foster goodwill in your community. It’s more difficult to translate these things into dollars and cents, but they’re just as valuable.
These Metrics Can Help Your Law Firm Track ROI
Seeing ROI takes time, but how do you measure it in the meantime? There are numerous metrics you can use, some easier to implement than others. Simple metrics provide you information more quickly, while more involved metrics take longer to show results (though they give you a more detailed picture). Here are some metrics you might consider when evaluating ROI:
- Media placements: This is simply the number of times your firm is mentioned in the media. It’s the most basic measurement of PR success, and it gives you an immediate estimate of how well your marketing strategy is working. It’s even possible to put a dollar amount on placements by calculating how much it would have cost to advertise in each outlet. However, it’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of ROI measurement.
- Media impressions: Impressions take placements one step further and look at how many individual people might have seen your name in the media. For example, if two million people read Los Angeles Times, that means your placement in the newspaper garnered two million impressions. Like media placements, impressions are the foundation of your PR metrics
- Sentiment analysis: Media placements are great, but what if every article is about the negative outcome of one of your lawsuits? Sentiment analysis, also known as content analysis, takes that into consideration. It analyzes the tone of media placements, labeling each one as negative, positive or neutral. It’s typically measured using sentiment analysis software, which can be helpful if there are dozens of articles mentioning the lawsuit.
- Social media mentions: If sentiment analysis helps you determine the attitudes of reporters, social media mentions help you determine the attitudes of the general public. By tracking the number and tone of comments about your firm on social media, you can get a snapshot of your firm’s reputation and popularity.
- Referral traffic: Using Google Analytics, it’s possible to see how people are getting to your website and track what actions they’re taking once they’re there. With these numbers, you can determine how many qualified sales leads clicked through to your site from a particular media placement. This information is invaluable because it directly links public relations activity to revenue, and it shows you which PR tactics are the most successful.
While the ideal metric is increased revenue or securing new clients, the above can help assess the success of your PR campaign and whether you should continue to put resources toward particular tactics.