Questions for the PR Industry – Grace Garland

We have been reaching out to notable communications professionals to ask them a few questions about their experiences and interests, with the goal of providing some insights to others in the industry. For the February edition of ‘Questions for the PR Industry’ we chatted with Grace Garland, Head of PR at MVF, a leading international customer generation company which combines cross-channel marketing with technology to provide a scalable source of new customers to businesses all over the world. They have several in-house brands including Expert Market, MoveHub and The Eco Experts.

Grace Garland
Head of PR at MVF

In your opinion, what is the most effective way to measure PR especially now that the industry has evolved?

Measuring the impact of PR is still one of the biggest challenges we face. So often, though we know we have had a direct impact on sales we can’t prove it, which is really frustrating. I am lucky that my department sits within a big Search Engine Optimisation division so I can get my colleagues to monitor how our PR links affect traffic or impact sales. This is incredibly useful, but it still only measures the people that go directly from your digital coverage and does not prove how many people either searched for you at a later date or how much this coverage raised your brand’s profile – unfortunately this is something that is still virtually impossible to measure.

However, by creating bespoke KPIs for each brand you work on, including what message you want to get out there, the volume of audience you want to reach and what business goal you are contributing to you can create goals that you can measure your performance against and ones that hopefully echo the aims of the rest of the business. PR teams should always be thinking strategically and tying their work in with the overall business goals to make sure the value of their work is recognised by the wider organisation.

What do you see as the future direction of the industry?

It sounds cliched but I think collaboration between marketing disciplines. I have learnt so much over the past two years from our SEOs and I think my PR expertise has changed the way they view content and link building too. There was a time when everyone was suggesting it would be one or the other, either SEO or PR would survive, but in fact, both trades are now bound to each other’s fortunes so we need to work together to get the best results. By learning as much as we can from other disciplines PRs can expand our understanding of the digital landscape and learn ways to keep our work relevant in an ever-evolving industry.

I would also like to see PR being recognised more widely as a strategic function that should sit at the heart of a business. I think consumers are getting much more savvy and want to see the real character of a business and what it stands for, more than a flashy campaign, so positioning your brand, having consistent messaging and understanding your audience has never been more important.

What PR initiative that you’ve done are you most proud of?

We have developed some really amazing campaigns on a shoestring and that is what I am constantly proud of. Our brands aren’t naturally newsworthy — we specialize in franking machines and card payment systems, so to get coverage in top newspapers and international publishers at the volume we do is down to the ingenuity of our teams. Using data to work out which are the most toxic countries in the world, or the impact of house prices on the age people have children lends our brands real authority and still taps into the right audience — I don’t think anyone does this as well as we do at the moment!

Thanks, Grace!

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