by Fraser Likely -- Many in public relations and communications are using the ROI (Return On Investment) financial term in a way that is inaccurate, inappropriate, and dishonest. Real public relations folks don't use spin, and the use of ROI in PR to date is just that: Spin.
The financial profession has always used ROI in a specific way: To measure net, actual returns/revenues against gross, actual investments/costs at the level of the organization. That is, the term describes the final actual money that has been made, after all costs (including product returns and cancellation of sales) have been factored in. Since many departments are typically involved in a sales process (such as marketing, public relations, sales, customer retention/relations, etc.), ROI can only measured after the costs of each are included. Obviously, this can only take place at the level of the organization, not at the level of each function. This is true as well for programs with the purpose of saving money, of cutting costs.