PR agencies: measure success beyond the bottom line | PR Week

Andrea, our founder and CEO, recently shared her views with PR Week on why she thinks the industry should incorporate impact as a measurement of company success, not just financial metrics.

Read the full article here.


Turnover. Revenue. Bottom line. Headcount. Client retention. New business wins. The metrics agencies and companies use to class themselves as a ‘success’.

Whether it’s in monthly meetings, board meetings or when entering league tables – it pretty much all seems to still boil down to revenue. In fact, even this very (much-loved) title publishes an annual league of top agencies, using (mainly) revenue and size to create and determine the order of the list.

And it’s not just in this industry; financial, legal or tech company leagues are pretty much all defined by the same, too.

I understand that money does, of course, make the world go round. But we have just come out of a global pandemic; we are in the middle of a global climate emergency; and we are facing one of the worst cost-of-living crises in living memory, with extortionate energy costs. Add in gender and social inequality. And war. The need for positive, sustainable and quantifiable social and environmental change has never been so great.

So why is it that despite the requirement for a refocus on what matters in our societies today, one of the most influential industries out there for driving behaviour change continues to hang its success hat on revenue? Isn’t it about time we measured our success on impact?

Many agencies have made the move to become certified B Corporations as we look at ways to improve how we are governed. Rules matter in this instance as they drive behaviour. To become certified, you go through a thorough and lengthy assessment on environmental purpose, transparency and accountability in governance, workers, environment, community and customers. It’s renewed every three years. Just like with Fairtrade, customers and clients are increasingly choosing purpose-led companies to give their business to.

So being B Corp certified is a fantastic initiative to illustrate an agency’s governance. But when it comes to industry back-patting, wouldn’t it be great to see more measurement that acknowledges team health and wellbeing, as well as a company’s social and environmental impact and the lengths it has gone to secure it?

I’d love to see a league of agencies that also takes into account their real, tangible impact. What they’re doing to combat climate change, how they prioritise employee health and wellbeing, what societal impact they have, whether they have the Blueprint diversity mark. And whether they only choose work or clients that drive towards the UN Sustainable Development goals. Of course, I don’t mean that financials shouldn’t figure at all. We need profit to reinvest, to make more impact, to nurture teams – it’s a virtuous cycle.

Purpose through profit works; profit as purpose – no thanks.

We, of all industries, have the means to lead creatively when it comes to celebrating success in this sector. We must channel that creativity and challenge ourselves to devise something that shows the real impact our work, our clients and our actions have. Not just our bottom line.