I remember when I was a student learning about PR and at the time the hardest thing was trying to explain to people what public relations is. Well now that I find it easy to explain the next issue is What is the value of PR? Many people love to put a monetary value on PR after some bright spark came up with the concept of comparing the size of your article with the same size of the cost of an advert in that publication. It was easy then to say you spent £1000 on PR and in return you got the equivalent of £50 000 in advertising space. That is great if your are an agency and people want to see ROI. But as an in-house PR person you want more than a cheaper form of advertising.
It is the PR strategy and the experienced people who work on the tactics in ensuring that the strategy is successful that is the real value of PR. It is not only getting your message seen by as many of your target audience as possible but also ensuring that they understand your message. From a reactive point of view if you are handling a crisis it is ensuring that the media are kept informed and told the truth. It is keeping the reputation of the organisation kept in tact.
The value of PR is more than publicity but an on going two way communications strategy to ensure that the audiences (both internal and external)are kept informed and if they have any queries that they are dealt with quickly and efficiently to ensure that the strategy moves ahead smoothly.
If you wonder about value have a look at the Barcelona Priciples where the PR Industry looked at a measurement standard for the value of PR. Watch Barry Leggetter being interviewed on CIPR TV.