Top Questions (and Answers) that Every CEO and Executive Should Know about PR

Explore the State of PR with insights on the optimal revenue levels for PR investments, strategic goals, and the challenges CEOs face. Your ultimate guide to PR success and ROI.

State of PR 2023 for CEOs and Executives who want to understand how to leverage PR for GTM and Marketing success.
"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
Napoleon Bonaparte

Introduction: Demystifying PR for Executives

When I was getting my MBA at Wharton, Public Relations was never taught or even touched upon. Afterwards, as I started technology companies, I actually failed at PR and hired and fired multiple PR agencies. In fact, I disavowed PR as a black box that I just couldn’t figure out. That was until I cracked the code at my prior company. PR was a game changer at TINYpulse. It helped drive leads, nurture prospects, and boost our valuation. That “ah ha moment” transformed my view on PR. I now see PR’s ability to help companies differentiate and increase revenue regardless of industry.

AI Increases the Value of Digital PR

With AI generating content near a marginal cost of almost $0, there will be a flood of noisy content. Amid this deluge of content, search engines will look for quality signals amidst all the noise. Vetted articles from reputable outlets thus become invaluable. Fortunately, media outlets, like the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, etc., still pay journalists to vet sources and maintain a high quality bar. Their articles become strong signals that the content they are referring and linking to is of the highest quality. As a result, those that invest in the highest quality content and the ensuing PR to draw attention to it will reap outsized natural traffic gains

Open Secret from Your Competitors

In a world where every edge counts, PR remains one of the least understood tools in the executive arsenal. Let’s hope it remains that way so as we embrace PR, we will extend our lead against their competitors who are still sitting on their hands and continue to be baffled into inaction by PR.


The following are common questions that I get asked by CEOs. So I’ve turned it into a Q&A format of commonly asked PR questions along with answers and insights.

At what revenue level do companies start investing in PR?

PR investment begins early for many companies. 46% of organizations start investing in public relations before $5 million in revenue and 26% invest in PR even before reaching $1 million in sales. By the $50 million mark, PR becomes a norm, with 79% budgeting and committing to PR investments.

Chart showing the percentage of companies investing in PR at various revenue levels, highlighting early investment trends. Median revenue for companies to start investing in PR is $7.5 million in revenue. 26% of organizations start investing in PR when their revenue is less than $1 million. Source of the data is Delight Labs (

This highlights the value of PR in growth phases as companies try to stand out from the competition. Typically, once a startup has achieved PMF (product-market fit), PR is a great option to start investing in, since its moat becomes wider and deeper with each successive PR hit.

Any investment prior to accomplishing PMF is too early, and risks wasting any awareness or leads from public relations efforts.

How important is PR to helping your organization achieve their strategic goals?

The importance of public relations to a company differs based on revenue size. Overall, 70% rate it as “Important” or “Extremely important.”

60% of companies with less than $5 million in annual revenue rate PR as “Important” or “Extremely important” to achieving their strategic goals.

Chart depicting how companies of different sizes rate the importance of PR in achieving strategic goals. Source of the data is Delight Labs (

This climbs to 69% for organizations with yearly sales between $5 - $50 million.

It peaks at 83% for companies with $50 million to $500 million in yearly revenue.

The largest companies, at over $500 million in revenue, reported that PR is “Important” or “Extremely important” in helping them achieve their strategic goals 79% of the time.

Generally, as organizations grow in sales, public relations becomes a more integral part of their tactics to achieve strategic goals.

Who typically manages the relationship with external PR partners in companies?

Three out of 10 people surveyed reported that the CEO / President / Owner directly manages the external PR relationship.

Chart showing the distribution of roles managing external PR relationships, including CEOs and marketing managers. The predominant owner is the CEO / President / Owner of the company at 30%. Source of the data is Delight Labs (

Half of the time, marketing (Manager to CMO) is the primary owner of the external public relations partners.

Despite the demands on the CEO / President / Owner, they remain the primary relationship owner with external PR partners 30% of the time because PR is so strategically important. In addition, the CEO’s role is crucial in shaping the company's messaging.

Lastly, reporters often prefer engaging directly with the top leadership for insights.


How does company size affect who manages external PR relationships?

Surprisingly, an organization’s revenue does not significantly change how involved the CEO / President / Owners are in being the primary owner of the external PR relationship. It remains around 30%, even when comparing companies that are less than $5 million in revenue against much larger companies.

Bar chart comparing the role of company size in determining who manages PR relationships, from CEOs to PR directors. Source of the data is Delight Labs (

As companies grow in sales, a higher percentage of Public Relations Director / Managers assume the primary owner of the relationship with external PR agencies. It starts at 8% of the time for organizations with less than $5 million in revenue and peaks at 19% for organizations with more than $500 million in annual sales.

These data points highlight how important PR is across all stages of business growth, since the CEO remains the direct manager 1 out of 3 times.

What are the primary goals when companies invest in PR?

The main objectives for public relations all relate to marketing. The number one reason to invest in PR is to “Improve company brand and credibility.” 76% declared it as “Important” or “Extremely important” as a goal to their organization.

The second most popular goal for engaging in PR is to “Generate leads for sales and marketing.” This was cited to be “Important” or “Very Important” 69% of the time.

“Social media strategy and management” is the third most popular goal when budgeting for PR. 67% of respondents said this objective is “Important” or “Very important.”

Overall, the top objectives that companies aim for when investing in PR are related to sales and marketing to acquire more customers and grow revenue.

Bar graph illustrating top PR goals for companies. #1 goal is to “Improve company brand and credibility” followed by “Generate leads for sales and marketing” as the #2 top objective for PR. Source of the data is Delight Labs (

How do PR goals change as a company grows?

PR becomes increasingly strategic as companies grow. For organizations with more than $500 million in revenue, the average importance score for PR is 1.22, compared to just 0.56 for those with less than $5 million

This shift coincides with a transition from revenue-focused objectives in smaller firms to a broader communications strategy in larger ones. Notably, the prioritization of crisis communications escalates dramatically, moving from the 10th goal in smaller companies to the #1 priority in larger firms. This shift underscores the importance of creating, building, and protecting a company’s brand, especially for larger enterprises.

Graph showing how PR goals evolve with company growth, emphasizing the shift towards strategic communication as a company’s revenue increases. Source of the data is Delight Labs (

How does PR contribute to improving a company’s brand and credibility?

The vast majority of respondents (76%) consider PR to be “Important” or “Very important” to improving a company;s brand and credibility. As a company grows, that perception of importance grows as well, to 88% for organizations with $50 to $500 million in revenue and to 85% for organizations with more than $500 million in sales.

Chart demonstrating PR's impact on improving brand credibility and driving sales, with percentages for various company sizes. Source of the data is Delight Labs (

Through consistent, positive engagement with media and stakeholders and by leveraging thought leadership opportunities that positively position the company, a comprehensive PR strategy plays both offense and defense for an organization.

How important is PR to lead generation?

About 7 out of 10 rank generating leads for sales and marketing as an “Important” or “Very Important” PR goal. As companies grow in revenue, they rate the importance even higher. For example, the smallest companies – with less than $5 million in revenue – saw an average rating of 0.83. That jumps to 1.40 for the largest companies, with more than $500 million in sales.

As companies get larger, they can afford to budget for more software, processes, and people. Because of this, positive PR earned media mentions can be leveraged throughout their GTM (go-to-market) ecosystem, to get the most benefits from each PR hit.

Conversely, if one has the foresight to invest in PR earlier, they will likely be able to outcompete and outperform their competitors in generating growth via PR, since it requires consistent investment and oversight.

Chart showcasing the importance of PR in lead generation across different company sizes, with increasing significance in larger companies. Source of the data is Delight Labs (

Should social media strategy and management be a part of your PR strategy?

Without a doubt, 2 out of 3 surveyed think that social media strategy and management is important for PR. As a company grows in revenue, they think that social media strategy and management becomes increasingly important.

Smaller companies' importance score averaged 0.67, and the largest companies saw the same score climb to 1.15, which is 72% higher.

Interestingly, social media strategy and management was cited as the #2 most important PR goal for the smallest companies. This could be due to the fact that effective social investments can yield outsized returns regardless of the size of the company. Many times, viral social hits favor smaller, lesser known companies than big brands.

On the same hand, smaller companies can focus their energies with their fans and niche audiences while avoiding more expensive, broader campaigns to the masses.

Wrapping social and PR together is certainly a 1+1=3 equation because each leverages the strengths of the other.. To illustrate, social hits and stories can be pitched to press. At the same time, press coverage can be amplified via social media to maximize reach and impact.

The rise of digital engagement is pushing companies of all sizes to prioritize social media, making it a key driver in modern PR and marketing strategies.

Graph illustrating the escalating importance of social media strategy in PR as company revenue increases. Source of the data is Delight Labs (


Should thought leadership and building the personal brand of key executives be a part of your organization’s PR strategy?

Of those surveyed, 70% think improving thought leadership and personal brand of key personnel is Important. Generally, the larger the company’s revenue, the more important it is.

For the largest companies, with annual revenue of more than $500 million, 92% thought it was “Important” or “Extremely important” to improve thought leadership and executives’ personal brand.

In contrast, 63% of the smallest organizations, with yearly sales of less than $5 million, thought it was “Important” or “Extremely important.” With social media, like LinkedIn and TikTok, CEOs can effectively build their companies’ and their own brand easier than ever with continued engagement on those platforms. I think over time, this will become more and more important as it drives leads and brand awareness. If a CEO starts when their company is smaller, it is easier to continue to build on that rhythm and foundation.

Bar chart detailing the growing emphasis on executive personal branding as part of PR strategies in larger companies. Source of the data is Delight Labs (

How important is promoting specific events to your organization’s PR goals?

Generally, larger revenue companies value event promotion more than their smaller counterparts. For the $50 to $500 million annual revenue companies, 85% believe that it is “Important” to “Extremely important,” versus 57% for those with less than $5 million in yearly sales.

For companies in the $50 to $500 million in annual sales, events are a #3 PR priority. This may be due to heavily investing in product launches, trade shows, etc., as a strategic tool to amplify their brand presence and establish market leadership.

Smaller companies will not have the budget nor team to execute larger promotions. However, it is often worthwhile to try more focused niche events to target prospects.

Oftentimes, combining physical and digital PR with marketing tactics yields outsized returns because they reinforce each other.

Graph showing the relative importance of event promotion in PR strategies across different sizes of companies. Source of the data is Delight Labs (

How does PR help develop and execute product launches?

Overall, bigger companies value PR developing and executing product launch strategies more than smaller organizations. Larger ones rate this as Important to Extremely important 80%+ of the time versus less than 60% of the time for companies making less than $50 million.

One of the main benefits of having PR help drive the positioning and messaging to the outside world is that work invested for external purposes can be extremely helpful to ensure alignment internally. This is one of the reasons why Amazon likes to write a “future press release” for initiatives before they lean into it so everyone is on the same page.

Public relations can also proactively invite media to cover the event to generate more buzz and awareness. This can be a good proxy to determine how well the launch will be received by the target market.

Graph depicting the effectiveness of PR strategies in product launches, with a comparison between smaller and larger companies. Source of the data is Delight Labs (

What role does crisis communication play in a company’s PR strategy?

Unsurprisingly, the #1 PR goal for large companies is handling crises. When companies have over $50 million in revenue, crisis communication is a pivotal element of their PR strategy.

It serves to protect and rebuild a company's reputation during and after any negative event. Being prepared with a crisis communication plan ensures a company can respond quickly and effectively, minimizing damage and maintaining trust with customers and stakeholders. The larger a company, the more resources they tend to allocate towards crisis management, understanding that the cost of being unprepared can far outweigh the investment in a good PR strategy.

For instance, Johnson & Johnson's handling of the Tylenol tampering crisis in 1982 is a well documented exemplary crisis response. They immediately alerted consumers nationwide, ceased Tylenol production, and issued a nationwide recall that cost them over $100 million. Their transparent and consumer-first approach not only managed the crisis effectively but also eventually led to rebounding of the brand's image

On the other hand, the 2010 BP oil spill is cited as poor crisis response. The response to the spill was delayed, and they downplayed the scope of the spill. This lack of transparency tarnished a strong brand.

These contrasting examples highlight how critical a well-prepared crisis communication strategy, from the CEO on down, is for maintaining trust and how damaging the lack of one can be to a company’s reputation.

For the smallest companies, crisis communication is their lowest PR priority because they usually choose to prioritize allocating their resources toward growth. Usually at that size, the CEO leads the charge when any crisis impacts their organization. But when they hit $50 million plus in revenue, they need to start formalizing and investing in crisis management

Chart emphasizing the paramount importance of crisis communication strategies in larger companies. Source of the data is Delight Labs (

How important is PR’s role in creating unique content?

Overall, creating unique content that is then leveraged for blog posts, marketing nurture content, and sales drip was the 8th most important public relations goal.

Larger companies, those with $50 million and greater annual sales, valued it more than their smaller counterparts. In fact, the largest organizations with more than $500 million in revenue cited that this was Important or Extremely important 85% of the time.

As companies scale, they can invest more in creating unique content. When PR helps drive this forward, they’re able to understand what journalists are seeking for their audience. Then when PR pros deliver those insights to reporters, it significantly increases their opportunity to earn media placements.

Ideally, PR collaborates extremely closely with sales and marketing to be able to drive value from creating unique content once and repackaging it throughout the GTM motion.

Chart illustrating the strategic priority of creating unique content in PR across companies of varying sizes. Source of the data is Delight Labs (

How does PR impact my company’s SEO?

SEO was Important for about 2 out of 3 respondents as a PR goal. Based on the company size, it ranged from the #4 most important goal, for organizations with $5 to $50 million in annual sales, to the least important goal for companies with more than $500 million in revenue.

One trend that will greatly impact the importance of PR to SEO is generative AI. As generative AI makes the cost of creating content nearly zero, the internet will get increasingly flooded with content. The search engines will need a signal to assist them in sifting through all the content noise to determine what content they should rank higher.

One of the strongest signals will be earned media mentions and links. To start, most news websites possess high domain authority. But more importantly, they have professional staff that still vets sources before publishing, which helps them maintain the highest standards in a sea of seemingly copycat AI generated content. Therefore, earned media placements will become increasingly important to consistently rank high on Google, Bing, and other search engines.

Chart detailing the impact of PR on SEO across different company sizes, highlighting the importance of earned media. Source of the data is Delight Labs (

How should I leverage PR for internal communication?

The importance of improving internal communication for PR was the least valued aspect of PR. This may be due to the fact that most see PR for external purposes versus internal purposes.

Oftentimes, internal communications are owned by HR. PR can play a role or partner with HR to reinforce the company's mission and values internally and ensure employees are aligned with the company's direction. These messages can be conveyed in internal newsletters, Slack / Team channels, and town halls. PR can help craft messages that resonate from the top on down.

In larger organizations, where distance between leadership and employees can be greater, PR's role in ensuring clear, cohesive internal communication becomes even more critical.

As a result, it was not surprising to see that the $50 million and above organizations valued a PR goal of improving internal communications more than their smaller counterparts. At the end of the day, consistent internal messaging aligns employees with the company's vision and ensures a unified external brand.

Graph showing the underrated role of PR in internal communication strategies, especially in larger companies. Source of the data is Delight Labs (


What are the top metrics to use to judge the success and performance of PR?

Far and away, the #1 metric to judge the success and performance of public relations efforts are revenue generation related metrics, such as sales, conversions, and leads. 60% reported using these types of KPIs to assess the ROI and performance of their public relations investments.

The #2 metric was media coverage at 26%, which is a distant second place. This highlights how important PR is to contribute directly and indirectly to sales.

If one is thinking about hiring or evaluating their PR agency, then sales and coverage are the right places to start. When using revenue generation metrics for PR, the primary challenge is accurately attributing financial results to specific PR activities.

Similar to paid marketing attribution, does one use first touch, last touch, or multi-touch attribution models?

Moreover, PR's impact is often long-term and indirect, making it difficult to isolate from other marketing influences. Be careful not to overemphasize immediate financial returns that can overshadow the strategic value of PR in areas like brand reputation and stakeholder relationships.

Companies should certainly integrate PR with overall marketing and sales initiatives. This can often be a key mistake that organizations make with their PR agencies. It’s important that the PR agency understands the company’s sales and marketing initiatives. For example, if the company is going to launch a new partnership with a company in Tulsa, Oklahoma, PR can reach out to journalists in Tulsa to cover the announcement and how it impacts the community and customers.

Effective alignment requires clear communication between PR, marketing, and sales teams to ensure a unified approach. Alongside sales and media coverage, it's essential to also consider metrics like customer satisfaction and brand loyalty to get a holistic view of PR's impact. This is particularly important for larger companies that invest tremendously to build brand equity and loyalty.

Finally, while focusing on sales and coverage, don't overlook the significance of PR in fostering a positive corporate culture internally and enhancing stakeholder communications externally, which contributes to long-term success.

Overview chart of key PR success metrics and KPIs, with a focus on revenue generation and media coverage. Source of the data is Delight Labs (

What are the main challenges when investing in PR?

The #1 main challenge with PR is costs at 16%. Finding the right PR people is a close second at 14%. Tied for #3, at 12%, are maintaining reputation, communication, and reaching the attention of the right audience.

There are certainly PR agencies that focus on project-based work, like churning out press releases for low fees. These are not strategically focused because they are only being retained for a specialized function, even though their fees are low.

To avoid being penny wise and pound foolish, organizations must conduct their due diligence to find the right PR partners since that is the #2 PR challenge. Usually this is from referrals from those who have experienced success with PR. When evaluating larger agencies, watch out for bait and switch. In that scenario, one is initially wooed and pitched by the agency big shots but then they disappear and are replaced with a junior associate right after the Docusign is sent.

For breakthrough results, the optimal PR arrangement is a retainer basis for a year. Similar to any engagement with a professional services company, both parties require time to establish rapport and rhythm. PR’s job is to understand all the potential stories and partner with the company to pitch them to outlets that the company cares about.

It’s also key to establish the operating meeting rhythm. It’s smart to treat PR like sales and have a weekly check-in on the PR pipeline to take a close look at campaigns. Also similar to sales, confirm at the start what the top “prospects” or news outlets that your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) goes to. Those are the ideal outlets the agency should be focused on for placements. Sales and GTM motions take time to test, refine, and optimize, and that’s how well run PR partnerships can deliver stellar value.

Chart revealing the primary challenges in PR investment, including costs and finding the right talent. Source of the data is Delight Labs (

How transparent should my PR agency be?

For a partnership to excel, PR agencies need to be extremely transparent with clients on a consistent basis. 74% shared that their PR partner was Transparent or Extremely Transparent when it came to the number of media hits and placements they garnered for the client.

Feedback on why pitches were unsuccessful was cited as the least transparent, with about half sharing that PR partners were Transparent or Extremely transparent on this front.

Without transparency, a true partnership can not emerge to continually adapt, learn, and refine. Similar to how a well-oiled sales organization reviews failed prospect nurture cadences or prospecting calls, a well-oiled PR relationship must do the same.

For public relations, this includes debriefs on what pitches were successful and what were unsuccessful. It includes brainstorming and diving into what story angle to pitch, what the activity was for the week, and how the pipeline is based on those pitches and activity. Finally, any deviation from the set budget or retainer should be brought up ahead of time and with justification for review and/or approval. This is the level of transparency that creates breakthrough partnerships and results.

Chart comparing client expectations of transparency from PR agencies, focusing on media hits and pitch feedback. Source of the data is Delight Labs (

Conclusion: Unlocking PR's Potential

I hope you’ve found all the insights and Q&A helpful. At the end of the day, I’ve benefited so much from PR that I’ve decided to start my own agency. My experience with PR underscores that PR is a misunderstood growth powerhouse, often overlooked yet capable of driving significant revenue and differentiation. Let’s hope your competitors keep underestimating and underinvesting in PR.

PR: Beyond Branding

The narrative that PR is just about branding and communications is outdated. In today’s digital-first landscape, PR's role in lead generation and business growth is undeniable. As the CEO who unlocked PR’s potential at TINYpulse, I’ve seen firsthand how comprehensive PR strategies can elevate a company's market position and boost valuation.

Digital PR in the AI Era

In an age where AI generates endless content, the real challenge for companies is to stand out. Digital PR, with its ability to secure vetted media placements, becomes invaluable. These earned media pieces are not just content; they are endorsements of your brand’s credibility and authority, cutting through the noise and significantly impacting your SEO and online visibility.

The Increasing Returns of PR

While many marketing strategies face diminishing returns as competitors copycat your tactics, PR stands out for its cumulative benefits. Building relationships with journalists and establishing your company as a reliable source pays off exponentially, creating a virtuous cycle of coverage and recognition.

An Exclusive Edge Weaved Throughout Sales and Marketing

It’s somewhat of a secret that not enough companies leverage PR effectively, especially in their go-to-market strategies. This oversight is our advantage. By embracing PR early and integrating it thoroughly, we not only stay ahead of the curve but also cement our lead in the competitive landscape.

Your Next Steps

As an expert who has unlocked the PR blackbox, my goal is to demystify PR for other executives and founders. Subscribing to our newsletter is your first step towards leaning into the untapped potential of PR for your company. And when you’re ready to revolutionize your approach to PR, my team at Delight Labs is here to guide you through planning and executing a PR strategy that sets you apart.

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started."
Mark Twain
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