This is the first of a three-part series on creating a PR report that will be meaningful to your organization’s executive leadership or your client’s top decision makers.
Chief Hurdles to Measuring PR
It is no secret among PR professionals that one of the most vexing challenges is useful measurement. A recent survey asked PR pros what they find to be most difficult about measuring the impact of PR on the brand:
- 56% said lack of manpower and time
- 52% don’t know which tool to use
- 35% said they don’t know how to measure PR
Of those surveyed, only 6% said their measurement program was “advanced.”
Big is an Understatement
As of today the indexed web contains at least 4.7 billion pages. In terms of PR measurement, this means that mentions can come from anywhere. Identifying those that are relevant to your brand, industry, and target market is a job that involves an enormous amount of data. Dare we say big data? That’s where you’ll find the patterns, trends and associations that should drive your PR strategy. Unfortunately, when asked if big data is part of their PR measurement strategy, only 14% of respondents said yes. A stunning 54% said that they don’t know what big data is. That’s a huge problem for the modern practice of PR.
Some Useful Guidance
The Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communications (AMEC) is a worldwide group of PR professionals that study PR and meet to discuss the gold standard for PR measurement. Their guidelines, called the Barcelona Principles, are a great place to start when thinking about PR measurement.
- Goal setting and measurement are fundamental to communication and public relations and should include paid, earned, owned and shared channels.
- Measuring communication outcomes is recommended versus only measuring outputs.
- The effect on organizational performance can and should be measured where possible, alongside the effect on business results.
- Measurement and evaluation require both qualitative and quantitative methods to better understand the reasons for outcomes.
- Advertising Value Equivalents are not the value of communications but the cost of media space or time.
- Social media can and should be measured consistently with other media channels.
- Measurement and evaluation should be transparent, consistent and valid.
PR Measurement and You
Effective PR measurement is important for your brand, but it is also important for your career. Fully 74% of CEOs report wanting marketers to become 100% ROI-focused and speak the language of top management. If that’s the case for marketing, it is true for PR as well. This laser focus on results is the only path to the respect and investment that PR deserves.
The right approach to PR measurement will help you advance your career to the next level by arming you with:
- Objective information that will drive better decisions that produce concrete results
- Clear evidence that your efforts and investments are achieving a positive ROI and contributing to revenue
- Executive support for continued investment in PR
Yesterday’s Tools Won’t Cut It
For a long time, PR measurement was very difficult. In order to have something to report, PR pros turned to what they could and used AVEs, Google alerts, impressions and quantity of brand mentions. They provided a way to put some numbers on a page, but what they didn’t do was show actual reach, track the user behavior inspired by a mention, or measure what really matters.
All Data is Not Created Equal
Now that we have sophisticated tools for combing the web, finding and analyzing relevant information we could measure thousands of data points. We don’t get data for the sake of getting data or measure for the sake of measuring. Instead we should:
- Focus on the things that can be directly impacted by PR efforts
- Relentlessly measure the things that matter most
- Stop measuring the quantity of PR outputs in favor of measuring the quality of PR outcomes
- Align measurement with stakeholder objectives
The short version is that executives want PR to prove brand impact, digital impact and conversion impact. We’ll explore more about exactly what that means in our next post on this topic, Metrics to Consider.
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