Measuring PR: how to value the invaluable
“How do you know it works?” “Can you prove it drives customers to do what we want?” “How are you measuring PR?” “Why should we bother?” “Can’t we just advertise?” “Shall we Tweet it instead?”
Every PR will have had a client or colleague who asks these sorts of questions. They are ultimately asking, why are you here?
Those in the industry, or who at least understand how PR works, know that it can make or break a company. It’s about putting your business in front of the right people, in the right place, at the right time, and saying the right thing. It helps build brand awareness and reputation, and it can change the way a target audience thinks. It is invaluable. And yet we are constantly asked to prove its value.
The importance of measurement
Of all the arms of the multi-dexterous marketing octopus, PR probably has the toughest gig when it comes to justifying its place in a campaign or communications plan. And a huge part of that challenge is down to the fact that measuring its success is so hard to pin down.
While other marketing tools have many industry-standard measurements to back up their effectivity, PR is lacking.
But whether you’re agency side or in-house, you need to validate your campaign costs or PR investment to an executive team or client.
And that’s not to say that PR measurement exists solely to justify a budget.
Having a proven measurement approach which shows the success of your PR efforts in both qualitative and quantitative measures which tangibly link back to the business’s overall objectives is crucial to not only getting support for the PR project at hand but also to show that PR is every bit as important as other marketing tools.
One thing’s for sure, AVE is dead. For a long time, the ‘advertising value equivalent’ has been widely disregarded as a measurement for PR, and rightly so. But since then there has been no true successor. We don’t have a uniform, accepted way of measuring what it does and why it’s effective.
The best of a bad bunch
There are, of course, a number of ways to measure PR. You’ve got:
- Reach – How many people your story has reached
- Audience – Who’s been reading your story
- Tiered media targets – Gold, Silver or Bronze, how much of your coverage has reached the top?
- Cost per number of people viewed – A measure based on the investment divided by reach, multiplied by whatever quantity you want to find the cost for
- Backlinks – For online publications, does the story link back to your brand’s website?
- Outputs – the PR elements you produce; press releases, blogs, brochures, newsletters
- Outcomes – the change in behaviour or in purchasing that we want to see happen
And there are more. But still, PR is crying out for a unified measurement. In the meantime, there are at least some important ways to prove the worth of your PR campaign:
- Find out what success looks like for your client or business, and build your measurements around that
- Always agree KPIs with your client or business before any campaign
- Always make sure your measurements link back to the overall business objectives
- Always use campaign or project results to inform your future PR activities. Dissecting what works and what doesn’t, and the reasons behind it will help to ensure you improve next time
As an industry, we need to share best practice and agree the ultimate way to measure PR and to prove just how valuable it is.
Laura is BrandContent’s PR Manager, you can learn more about her here.