Three ROI Strategies To Consider in the Evaluation Stage

By Kaylin R. Staten

The Evaluation stage of the RPIE process answers your campaign or issue’s most pressing question: What were the results, and how did those results measure the effectiveness of the Research, Planning and Implementation? 

During my 10 years as a public relations practitioner, I’ve been involved in a whirlwind of wonderful campaigns, as well as ones that lost their luster even before the RPIE process fully unfolded. What I have seen in my first decade — and continue to see — is that the Evaluation stage isn’t properly formed. 

Media placements and impressions are viable measurements of success, but are they the be-all-end-all of your campaign? Public relations and business are greatly tied to each other. In fact, the PR industry was founded upon business principles. Public relations has been around for more than 100 years, and it commenced with Ivy Lee’s work with his counseling office and high-profile clients like John D. Rockefeller. In the 1920s, the PR profession evolved even more when the “Father of Public Relations” Edward Bernays added depth and breadth to the growing profession.

In many cases, you’re reporting to investors, a Board of Directors, employees and other key stakeholders about your daily-to-annual company happenings. They will ask you questions in official and more nonchalant meetings, and you have to be able to tell them about the success or failures of the campaign’s efforts. The more information you have to share, the better. You want to show your campaign’s value, as well as what public relations brings to your organization.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) do just that. KPIs help you measure if you achieved communications and business goals and objectives. This is where your hard work comes full circle. 

In public relations, KPIs measure Return on Investment (ROI) and Return on Expectations (ROE) in the following ways: 

  • Your bottom line

  • Awareness goals and objectives 

  • Audits for future campaigns and business ventures

Here are some KPIs you can measure to showcase your campaign’s Evaluation:

Sales and general revenue.

I’m going to be really honest here. If one of your goals or objectives focused on increasing revenue in any capacity, this needs to be measured in the Evaluation stage. Sales and general revenue are essential in showing if a campaign succeeded or missed the mark. Always remember: Did our efforts translate into reaching our sales goals/objectives, and by how much?

PESO: Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned Media

Source: SpinSucks

Source: SpinSucks

The PESO diagram is a visual way you can tell your campaign’s results story. You can break down social media, traditional media (TV, radio,print, grassroots marketing, etc.), advertisements, websites and anything else that stood out in the Implementation section. 

PAID: What was your overall budget for advertising, influencer relations and other tactics? Break them down by Social, Traditional and any other applicable categories. 

EARNED: What were the results of your media relations and other in-kind partnerships, sponsorships, et al? This section concerns which efforts allowed for “free” placement, whether it was a press release that ran verbatim in the local newspaper or if a marketing agency gave you a pro-bono service 

SHARED: These are platforms you “rent,” including space on a social media network. You are at the mercy of the network and which algorithm it uses. You also have the potential to reach more people than traditional methods. Your social media platform will provide analytics to help you hone in on your audience and track reach, impressions, engagement and more.

OWNED: Your owned media includes your website, blog and any in-house content creation. One good measurement to look at in this section is Google Analytics, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and other tools to track website traffic, click through rates, time spent on pages and more. 

Post-surveys and Research Tactics 

This is where Research and Evaluation become the perfectly suited bookends to your campaign. If you hosted an event, it makes sense to give attendees a post-survey on the spot or send them a timely email survey within a week of the event. You can gauge how sentiments changed or stayed the same in a pre- and post-survey combination. This is where you would repeat some of your Research tactics, whether a focus group, communications audit or another tactic would suffice. You will want to measure Share of Voice and Sentiment, as well as how many media placements you had and how many impressions you received. Still, ask yourself: How did it raise awareness or increase revenue streams?


Kaylin R. Staten, APR, is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer based in Huntington, WV with nearly 16 years of professional communications experience. As CEO and founder of Hourglass Media, she uses her compassionate spirit and expertise to delve into the heart of clients’ stories. She is a recovering perfectionist, mental health advocate, wife, cat mom and Leia Organa aficionado. Connect with Kaylin on LinkedIn.