Gone are the days when the success of PR is measured only by outputs: number of articles published about our company; number of people who were reached by the publications, TV programs and radio shows we appeared in; etc. The problem with these metrics is, we’re never really sure exactly how many people we’ve reached and, more importantly, what effect such exposure has had on consumer behavior.
Even Advertising Value Equivalency or AVE (the cost of editorial coverage if you were to pay for it as advertising space) is far from an accurate measure of exactly what results our PR efforts bring. The only thing you find out with this metric is, you probably spent way less for that exposure through PR than if you had paid for it in advertising.
Pretty impressive, but the next question is, so what?
The integration of social media with traditional media in PR has made measurement much easier. We can now trace exactly how many people clicked on a particular link and, upon getting to our landing page, how many took the action we wanted — whether it’s signing up for an email list or placing an order.
Yet social media measurements aren’t perfect, either. We still can’t capture “more favorable attitudes” or “increased awareness” towards our product or service, for example. That’s because knowledge, awareness, and attitudes don’t always translate into behaviors we can observe and measure objectively.
Given that there is yet no perfect way to measure the impact and effectiveness of PR, we can’t lose sight of the fact that we can at least make PR measurement more meaningful.
That is, we can measure and track those metrics that help us get to know our prospects and customers better, determine what works and what doesn’t, and have a reliable basis to make future PR, marketing and business decisions.
Our Approach to Measuring PR
In my own experience with clients at Cross Border Communication, the key is first understanding the business outcomes you need to produce. Pick that outcome apart into its underlying components.
This exercise can turn something as intangible as “building awareness” into a concrete objective with observable benchmarks, such as increase in social discussions, improvement of search engine ranking, number of downloads of a white paper, proliferation in the use of our hash tag, etc.
Therefore, metrics are meaningful because they support our PR/marketing and business goals. It becomes clear why we’re measuring something, and what the metrics mean in relation to the results or outcomes (vs outputs) we want to accomplish.
Developing some discipline around measuring the metrics that describe our benchmarks and tracking the data over time can give us powerful insights and market intelligence we can use to improve future campaigns. Company executives can also better understand and appreciate the results PR has generated.
How Do You Measure PR?
What have you been doing to measure the effectiveness and success of you company’s PR? How do you feel about the metrics you currently track?