2017 PR Measurement Predictions & PR Wish List From Boston Marketing Pros
PR measurement has long been an outcast in marketing dashboards. Over the years, companies have almost created coping mechanisms for accepting weak PR reporting – either not measuring PR at all or relying on basic awareness metrics, like percentage increase of coverage and sentiment. However, PR measurement is finally having its moment, and tools have improved significantly over the last couple of years. PR results can now be measured at a granular level and PR metrics are more aligned to the marketing funnel. Will 2017 be the year that impactful PR measurement goes mainstream? We hope so! Here’s what a few top Boston tech marketing pros think:
Bobbie Carlton, founder of Carlton PR & Marketing, Innovation Nights and Innovation Women says that “2017 is the year that companies will finally realize that PR activity is measurable. So much of our media relations work results in digital coverage with links to company websites that are also shared via various social platforms. This means we can measure impact, like article referrals and social shares.” Not only are we likely to see the realization that PR can be impactfully measured, but Lora Kratchounova, Principal of Scratch Marketing + Media predicts that in 2017 “PR will be measured as part of a multi-touch, account-based marketing model, not in silo.”
This is welcome news for PR and marketing pros who are feeling the pressure from senior executives to deliver highly-targeted, integrated, measurable campaigns and programs that result in revenue. But now that more activity can be measured and executives come to expect reliable impact metrics, it’s up to organizations to think more critically about which metrics matter most to their success. Ian Bruce, VP corporate marketing at MongoDB predicts that “The pressure to find measurable returns for advertising and PR will continue. Companies will look for tools that can link ‘awareness’ directly to outcome (leads and eventually revenue). A backlash will occur, as PR and brand experts argue for the more intangible benefits of positive perceptions, brand loyalty, etc.”
Erin D. Caldwell, a Director at Corporate Ink, agrees, saying “More than ever, companies are looking for concrete results from their marketing spends. That trend will continue – and likely grow in prominence – in 2017. It can be a struggle for marketers and agencies because no one seems to have perfected it – I’ve never seen the holy grail of marketing dashboards – and those who have come close have spent a lot of money getting there. Organizations that can cost-effectively tie PR and marketing results to the buyer’s journey, and ultimately revenue, will see growth this year.”
2017 is also likely to introduce new challenges as the media and advertising landscapes evolve. We’re also likely to see social media become more relevant in reporting news, and more online news sites with skewed agendas become established. Michelle Barry, director, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, believes that “PR and marketing pros are going to struggle with the rise of ‘fake news’ sites – how will we be able to weed these out? If coverage ends up on one of these sites, how do we go about getting them removed? Or, the bigger question – is there actually value to being mentioned in a fake news story? We’re definitely through the looking glass right now.”
Social media expert Meagan White, product marketer at Acquia, says “More and more media outlets are using social media platforms like Twitter as a go-to news source, often basing entire stories on a high-profile tweet or on a controversial Twitter conversation. In 2017, we’re likely to see more companies take advantage of this trend, making it even more important for marketers to link media coverage with social media results, and now vice versa.” Additionally, Bruce thinks that “the pure digital advertising model for content providers will become uneconomic, and more and more media sites will go the way of Medium.”
Besides impactful measurement, what else is on PR and marketing pro’s wish list this year?
When asked about the type of PR tool that is most desired besides PR measurement, there was a common theme among responses – reporter communications. Caldwell joked that she’d want a tool with “the ability to read a reporter’s mind, or maybe just a reporter’s inbox.” Now that would be a magical tool! Kratchounova would love to see “@samwhitmore at scale. Understanding the topic agenda for key journalists and how to engage them.” Bruce takes this idea even further, asking for a mutually beneficial solution for PR pros and reporters to support better journalism as a whole in the form a tool that helps “close the loop on reporting and enable journalists to solicit input on stories in a seamless, peer-reviewed, fact-checked way, that leverages sources (including PR) to help find content, expert opinion, and other data. Technology can build better journalism in a resource-constrained world.”
White thinks social media could play a big role in both reporter communication and supporting good journalism, stating that “there have been/are social tools that focus on reporter communications, but they are more like query tools used for pitching stories or requesting sources and are only used when one party needs something form the other. I’d love to see a tool that actually creates mutually beneficial engagements and relationships between reporters and PR pros.”
Beyond reporter communications, Carlton dreams of a tool that can then track story ideation from start to finish, saying, “In my fantasy, there is a universal tag that emanates from the exact starting point of any idea, concept or message that uniquely stamps that concept so it can be tracked from origin to sale to referral. And not just digital concepts, I want this tag to work on word of mouth, too.”
2017 should be an exciting year for PR measurement, as more companies realize the benefits of it and implement modern PR metrics. And while we may not see a love fest between hacks and flacks, we might see more effective communications between PR pros and reporters that results in a more unified approach to journalism.
If you’d like more information on how to easily amp up your PR measurement game in 2017, contact us.
Cheers to a productive 2017!