In this article about Public Relations (PR) measurement and evaluation, Account Manager Nathanial Eker-Male outlines three ways you can improve the effectiveness of measuring your communications campaigns by looking at impacts instead of outputs.
When you think of PR, your mind probably wanders to the “sexier” side of the business. High-profile events with endless supplies of Bollinger on tap, press releases being worked on to the wire, and managing the big personalities of celebrities, that sort of thing.
What you may not consider is that all this activity is essentially pointless if its effectiveness is not measured, analysed, and presented coherently, to demonstrate how it positively impacted brand image, sales, prominence online, or any other pre-agreed objective. Having recently attended a helpful seminar on the topic organised by PR Moment, I’d like to share three thoughts that might make measuring your communications campaigns a more effective endeavour.
Impacts? Outputs? What’s the difference?
What do we mean by outputs and impacts? An output is something that can be easily measured. For example, when a PR professional sends out a press release to the media, it is easy to measure how many journalists followed up and published the article. Equally, garnering a reach statistic based on viewership of a publication may also be considered an output, depending on who you ask.
By contrast, an impact is (typically) more difficult to measure, because we don’t want to make things too easy, do we? One example of an impact would be to measure the perceptions of a group of existing customers at the beginning of a campaign through a survey, roll out the campaign, and then see if it improved perceptions of the brand or not. Understanding impacts can be difficult, even for people working in PR, so getting clients on board with metrics that aren’t simply about the amount of coverage and its tone can be challenging.
The futility of vanity metrics
Big numbers sound good. There’s no two ways around it. Telling a client they’ve reached fifty-thousand billion people with their £2 boosted LinkedIn post is all well and good, but metrics are notoriously difficult to prove.
A key takeaway is to try and focus on the outcomes of the activity, rather than pie-in-the-sky reach metrics. How many people actually engaged? Who liked, who commented, what kind of people were they and how do we get them to interact again and build brand trust? Five genuine interactions are more valuable than an obscenely high number without the statistics to back it up.
Integration between marketing and PR is essential (yes, we know)
Getting often better-funded marketing departments to play nice with their PR counterparts has been a difficulty since PR began, when cavepeople were submitting their press releases on stone tablets. However, pushing for an organic relationship built on a symbiotic exchange of data, ideas, and resources really is essential. Marketing teams provide PR people with expensive survey results, giving them first-hand, qualitative data about what real people are saying about the brand, representing genuine data that reflects real impacts, rather than just exploring outputs.
Moreover, working closely together cultivates an environment where both objectives and impacts can be aligned, allowing both PR and Marketing professionals to deliver integrated campaigns from conception to evaluation.
Impacts are the future of PR, and as technology becomes more sophisticated and commonplace, devices that deduce tone and favourability, as well as more accurately delineate exactly who read an article will force measurement specialists to embrace this new methodology.
If you need help measuring your communications campaigns, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.