How to Best Measure PR Campaigns—Because It’s No Longer Optional

Home Uncategorized How to Best Measure PR Campaigns—Because It’s No Longer Optional

Gini DietrichIn my last post, I shared information on the components that make up a PR campaign. Setting measurable objectives was just a passing mention but measurement deserves a full post.

Before we dive into the “how”, let’s be clear—a myriad of industry leaders agree that measurement is no longer an option for public relations professionals. It’s a must!

Why should I measure?

Gini Dietrich, who you may know as the developer of the PESO Model, has said on many occasions to get over your fear of numbers!

Tina McCorkindale, Ph.D., APR, the President and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) also an AMEC Academic Advisory Board member, has said we need to stop measuring just for the “purpose of proving our value” instead we “need to be more future-looking and purpose-driven… The time is now for the industry to embrace new technologies and methods.

Nicole Moreo, Ketchum SVP of Analytics and AMEC North American Chair has said, “Sometimes just putting out basic metrics can actually hurt your measurement program and not help management see the true ROI and efforts you are putting in.”

Alex Aiken, Executive Director for UK Government Communications, puts it tersely, “To not measure communications is lazy and shows a lack of pride in the work being done.”

If it’s not already clear enough why measurement (the right way) is so important, Wendy Marx, President of Marx Communications, summed up the numerous benefits of PR measurement on her blog:

  • Offers a better understanding of a PR campaign’s results
  • Shows the impact of your efforts across all your platforms
  • Allows you to compare the effectiveness of PR campaigns
  • Demonstrates investment value for your PR strategy
  • Allows PR professionals to prove their worth to an organization
  • Provides future direction

What you need

Let’s begin by recapping what you need in order to measure:

  • Understand your (or your client’s) key business objectives and how they align with your communications program.
  • Set SMART goals that align with your key business objectives. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-focused, and Time-bound. *Note that Johna Burke, AMEC Global Managing Director, says you should be SMARTER, adding Ethical and Revolutionizing.
  • Comprehend strategies and tactics–understand the difference.
    • Strategy is the why: Why are you doing something?
    • Tactics are the how: How and what will do accomplish the goal, meet the objective and fulfill the strategy. How do they support your goals and objectives?
  • Assign KPIs (key performance indicators) that align with your strategies, tactics, and goals, which also align with your key business objectives.

Industry-leading measurement tools

In case you aren’t already aware, AMEC is the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication. It is the world’s largest media intelligence and insights professional organization, and currently has more than 160 members in 86 countries worldwide.

Burrelles is an AMEC member, and as such, endorses the Barcelona Principles and the Integrated Evaluation Framework (IEF).

Measuring communications campaigns isn’t easy—there is no magic bullet. However, the AMEC framework provides you with explanations and examples of each step, making it easier to identify the areas where you need input from other members of management, other teams and your own team. It points out you’ll also need:

  • Outputs: What you put out to your target audiences—these could be paid (advertising, sponsorships), earned (media volume and impressions), owned (web sites, partnerships, direct email), and shared (volume of social shares, posts, videos, etc.).
  • Outtakes: What the audience takes away from the outputs—what did they do after being exposed to your output? What action did they take—click through, subscribe, share, comment, etc.?
  • Outcomes: Impact of PR activity on the audience—was there a change in awareness, knowledge, attitude, opinion, behavior? What were your audience’s takeaways from your output?
  • Impact: Once this process is completed, you’ll have solid comprehensive data that you will then “use to tell the story of how the investment in PR and these communications activities all build to take consumers through the funnel and to your ultimate goal,” PR News Measurement Hall of Famer Marianne Eisenmann, explained during a past webinar that I reported on.

There are numerous resources available on the AMEC site, for example, a complete taxonomy of evaluation tailored to strategic public communication—in simple terms, it shows where things go and where they fit in relation to each other in the process.

As you go through your measurement journey, some key concepts to keep in mind are:

  • Embrace all data–even if it reveals poor results.
  • Use data as a tool for learning and course correcting.
  • Look beyond the numbers. Do not report data only!
  • Data without context is meaningless—tell the story using the data as support.

Where do I start?

And, finally, like many others, you may be unsure of where to begin with all of this. We highly recommend the AMEC Maturity Mapper (aka M3). This will help you understand where you currently are in your measurement and evaluation process (a benchmark) but will also help you map your next steps.

Now we would like to hear from you! Are you currently or planning to use analytics to measure your public relations efforts? How does this process compare to how you are doing it? Let us know in the comments.

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