7 Keys To Better PR Measurement
Last week at the INBOUND15 conference here in Boston, our CEO & Founder presented to an overfilled room on “PR Analytics & Measurement: A New Data Frontier.” She included some history around PR measurement as well as a look at how technology has enabled us to not only better capture data, but to analyze it and improve campaign results. Did you know that the first ever conference on measuring public relations effectiveness was held in October, 1977? We’ve been trying to figure out this PR ROI thing for quite some time!
- Don’t Just Measure; Analyze. Everyone wants to know how many media articles or social media mentions they received. And tracking those numbers is easier than ever with the technology we have today. But go beyond the numbers and analyze the data to correlate why numbers move up or down. Tech tools are great - and some (like ours) do some analysis for you - but the best measurement happens when you combine strong tools with human insight. What events or news drive media interest? Does a certain spokesperson seem to resonate with your key audience more than another? When we do X, Y happens. Is that good or bad? What messages are driving action; what time of year do we see spikes in conversions, etc. Identify patterns of success so you can repeat what’s working and pivot from what isn’t. Part of your analysis should also be looking forward - not just looking back. What can we learn from what happened, and how can we pivot to be more successful?
- Go Beyond Awareness. In the past, PR focused on trying to measure some pretty tough intangibles such as the value of relationships and the level of awareness. With technology, these are much easier to track - but the true measurement of impact that PR should be analyzing is action. Our value is much greater if we can get a key audience to do something - not just to know something.
- Benchmark. Know where you’re starting and where you want to go. What is the best performance being achieved and how can you keep improving? At SeeDepth, we help do this with our Campaign Performance Index, but you can easily assess your own benchmark by beginning with an audit of how your PR is performing now. You can benchmark against past performance, competitors or other goals.
- Align Business Goals With Communications. Providing a list of results is important, but it’s much more meaningful to tie results back to your key objectives. That means you have to start, obviously, with clear goals. What are you measuring and why? Too many PR teams “throw spaghetti at the wall” just to see what will stick. For example, thinking that any coverage is good coverage, or that any new follower is a good follower. But if the objective, for example, was to get a percent of audience to take a certain action through a news release or media article, just delivering a count of the news release pickup or articles is not enough. You’ve also got to tie back to that growth objective. For example, “As a result of the news coverage, we generated 20% more registrations than the previous year and reached our target of 1500 registrations. This resulted in $25,000 additional revenue.” Or, “Our campaign drove 15% more donations this year. We accomplished this through XX” [whatever outputs you delivered].
- Account for Quantity and Quality. Back in the day, simply handing over a long list (or clip book) of media mentions was enough to be considered successful. Eventually, the industry realized the importance of assessing the quality of an article as well: what was our prominence? Was it in a publication we were targeting? Is it reaching our core audience? Did it have the right messages in it? Today good PR executives know to use tools to help look for such values and assess the quality of a piece of media or a social engagement with less time and more accuracy. Quality matters more than quantity. You can buy 10,000 followers but if they aren’t your target audience - and they don’t amplify your messages to your target audience - what’s the point? Placing an article in a small newsletter that drove 10 new sales is better than getting a “hit” in a publication with one million readers that delivered zero leads. Bigger isn’t always better - understand what quality means to your organization.
- Insist on a Seat at the Table. PR is more effective when the team understands not just their communications goals, the but the overall business goals. You don’t want to be working in a vacuum, so it’s crucial that the PR team (or lead) has a seat in business development and strategic planning meetings. Too often the PR team is left out of such discussions, yet expected to create campaigns that drive bottom line ROI. Insist on involvement in the board room at all levels. Think about it - PR is the face of the entire company and drives messaging that should be used consistently throughout all divisions. Feedback to the PR team also helps - hearing what the sales team’s challenges are, consistent questions that are asked, etc. are all helpful in creating the most valuable PR campaigns that deliver business impact.
- Learn the Barcelona Principles. Created in 2010 and updated in 2015, we have consistently talked about the importance of following these seven guidelines established by the public relations industry to measure the efficacy of PR campaigns. Here’s the latest on version 2.0. If you’re working with an outside vendor to manage your PR measurement, make sure they, too, know and follow these standards.