A blog post about measuring PR? There are plenty of different opinions on this, so I know I am skating on thin ice. I think it’s more than true that the advertisement equivalent (AVE) is the biggest lie in PR, like media analysts describe. But often, in the absence of better, it is still used as a ROI indicator. Because if you don’t do that, how do you measure your PR efforts?
I don’t have a clear answer, and that’s a good thing. There’s no magic formula for the perfect PR campaign. I mean, remind me what is PR again? For one client, PR is simply media relations, which means there’s no need to carry out the full PESO metrics-set that you use for another client. What we can see from various local and international discussions is that there is an urgent need to find common ground. And actually, it’s already been found: in one way or another, you should try to measure the impact on the business, whatever your PR approach is. The ‘so what?’ factor that I saw my VCA colleagues call it recently. Ask yourself, for every metric, whether it is relevant to your CEO. Circulation? AVE? Impressions? Few CEOs are particularly concerned. They are, however, interested in the actual impact of a campaign? Has the investment bolstered the reputation of the company? Has it yielded more sales leads? Has it increased the influx of suitable colleagues? That’s what matters. Of course, this “So what?” factor is somewhat black and white, and there is more to it than that. But such a simple question can help to open doors and improve the business to fit better.
What exactly are we measuring? PR is for Outsource “the strategic building of relationships with the target groups, via an extensive toolset, with the health and growth of the company as the most important starting point.” So: tools/range -> relationships with target groups -> health and growth. The good news is that you can make that full picture measurable.
0. Everything starts at zero
At the beginning of each new campaign/project/year, set clear objectives and benchmarks. Measurements are meaningless if you can’t compare the data, or do not know what you are working towards. No goals, no glory.
1. The PESO-mix
- Paid media represents all communication channels that you pay for. For example, (social) advertising. You see how many people you’ve reached (in terms of views, impressions, etc.) and how much interest has been shown (clicks).
- Earned media is understood to mean media & influencer relationships. You can measure the reach of the coverage, but it’s also possible to apply some more substantive metrics. Was the coverage on target, and as such, have you effectively reached your target group? What’s the sentiment of the articles? Which messages are scoring well, which are not? In what context is your company most mentioned? Etc.
- Shared media is typically all to do with social media and community management. Thanks to the analysis options provided by most social media channels, there is a great deal you can track: reach (impressions), interest (profile views), engagement (shares/likes/comments), conversion (clicks to the site).
- Owned media is understood to mean content channels created by ourselves such as a blog or a newsletter. Thanks to CRM tools and Google Analytics, this is also easy to measure: reach (views/subscribers), interest (bounce rates/time on page/opens), engagement (clicks), conversion (subscribes).
2. For most companies, the website is where the magic happens.
From there, you can get a picture of the relationship with your target group. Typically, the number of visitors to the website or web shop is directly related to the sales figures. Or the number of views of your career page with the number of applications. The good thing is that it is very simple to measure these things, and that it is often a lot easier than wrestling the information from your sales colleagues.
3. To complete the circle
You have to compare all that information against your baseline and benchmarks in order to be able to form the overall growth picture of the company. Does it all seem impossible? Just read this case study from SpinSucks. It’s more than possible, and I’m convinced that we should also take action closer to home.