Anyone who’s hired a publicist or taken on a do-it-yourself PR campaign has asked themselves, “Is my PR working?” For a person who’s invested their money or time in PR it’s a legitimate question.

Evaluating a PR campaign based on sales or rate of return is all too typical. But here’s the thing: PR doesn’t work like that; it’s a long-term investment. What PR does — or should do when done right — is increase the awareness of you and your product, service, book or expertise, to your target audience. Sorry, but this doesn’t mean skyrocketing sales right away.

You’ve probably heard that it takes seven touches before a person will buy something. They have to be exposed to your product multiple times, whether through ads, word of mouth, a sales call or media placements, before they purchase. Well, PR is the most cost-effective — and brilliant — way to get these exposures.

What PR does that no ad can do is build your credibility, making it easy to gain the trust of your target audience. If you’re grabbing the attention of the media and find yourself being used as an expert source in articles, being interviewed on radio shows, etc., then your PR is working. It’s simple: If the media is interested in you, then the public is too. The sales will come; you just have to patient and keep doing what you’re doing.

On the other hand, if the media isn’t interested and you find yourself frustrated for the lack of response, whatever you do, don’t give up. It takes time to land those placements. The main thrust of your PR campaign should be building and sustaining relationships with the media. And just like any healthy relationship, it’s going to take some time to get there. Here are some tips to help you on your way:

Review your pitches and your message. Are they simple, clear and concise? If not, make some tweaks and get back out there. Create your message so an 8-year-old will get it. And I always suggest tying your pitches to current events and breaking news when you can. The media climate is always changing so you have to stay on top of the news and adjust your pitches accordingly. The key to building quality relationships with the media is to give them what they want in an easy, accessible way. Make sure your pitches do that.

Touch base with your publicist. If you have a publicist make sure they’re sending out multiple pitches — making the necessary tweaks to land you the media coverage you deserve. Hiring a publicist is a big investment, not just financially, but also with your trust. Make sure they’re covering all the bases and don’t just sit back and play the role of a spectator. Take an active part in your campaign! Publicists aren’t mind readers. If you have an idea or want to tweak your branding or message, share it with your publicist.

Bring in an outside eye. And if you’re doing your own PR and have tweaked everything that could be tweaked don’t give up just yet. You’ve already invested so much time and energy. Sometimes you’re only one small tweak away from landing a major media placement. If you’re doing your own PR you may find yourself too close and attached. Take a step away and have someone else take a look at it for you. Hire a professional to evaluate your materials if you can, or find a friend or family member to give you their thoughts. An outside perspective — whether it’s from a hired professional or a friend or family member — is sometimes all you’ll need to score the results you want.