The PR industry is catching on that the new data-driven CMO wants measurement that goes beyond clip books and status reports (which traditionally highlight activity instead of results). Today’s leading PR firms and executives understand how to use analytics tools and human insight to present more compelling measurement reports. But what should a brand client be considering when reviewing a report by its PR team? Here are five things to consider when reviewing reports, to determine whether or not a PR initiative is successful:


  1. Outcomes - PR firms get paid for their time and they therefore feel compelled to report on the time it took them to accomplish something. This is why traditionally, measurement reports (or status reports) outline how many journalists they spoke with or awards submissions they drafted. And that’s okay… as long as their measurement reports also cover what the outcome of such efforts were. What happened as a result of all that writing and pitching?
  2. Impact - Now that you know the outcome, what has the impact been? If they helped to secure a speaking opportunity, what resulted from that opportunity? Did awareness increase? Where and among what audiences? Did the speaker receive any new leads as a result? Often, you’ll need to collaborate with the PR team (especially if they’re an external firm) on what the impact was, unless they have insight into your entire marketing and sales funnel. But impact should be recorded and benchmarked.
  3. Budget - PR budgets can go up and down. Although PR firms love retainers, do you clearly understand what the results are from that retainer each month? If you increase the budget to cover a one-time event, for example, how did it increase the impact on the business? If you lower the budget, what is the impact? Your PR team should be able to clearly align budget with expectations and results.
  4. Strategy - An often overlooked part of the measurement report, strategy should be discussed every time you’re reviewing results. Did you reach your goals? Was the strategy executed the same as the one planned, or did things pivot? If so, why and in what way? If you received 100 media hits, how many of those were in the places you planned for them to be? If you attended an event, did your strategy (booth placement, theme, handouts, staff, news, etc.) lead to the desired outcomes? Strategy is so crucial to analyze both before and after, so you can identify patterns of success, to repeat what’s working and pivot from what isn’t.
  5. Learnings - There’s been an unspoken fear for far too long around PR measurement reporting. PR executives shouldn’t be afraid to review results and identify places where strategy led to desired outcomes and impact, and places where it didn’t. Or, to recognize that the outcomes and impact were great due to something unplanned. That’s ok - this is how you live and learn and create stronger strategies moving forward. But without honest conversation, learnings are hard to uncover. Make sure your PR team is openly discussing what the key takeaways are from every campaign - both good and bad. When you have a team that can do that (and you’re the type of client or leader who doesn’t chastise for a strategy shift), your future campaigns will only continue to get better, increasing scores for both quality outcomes and outstanding quantitative results.

Your team can learn a lot from measurement reports and use them to get better and more strategic over time. Reviewing them with thoughtful analysis should always be a priority.

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