14 June 2016 Business PR Musings

How to measure PR

This week, the eyes of the world’s PR big-wigs will turn to London as it hosts AMEC’s International Summit, the coming together of the biggest names in communications to discuss the 5Ms (Making Metrics Matter – Taking Measurement Mainstream), yes you can always rely on PRs for a snappy title. Yet there’s a reason why hundreds of communications professionals gather to ponder how to measure PR. It’s because every client, every boss, every business that hires a PR agency asks the same question, “So how do I know when it’s working?” and the answer is quite straightforward, nobody really knows until it does.

I can hear the screams emanating from PRs as they read those words but it’s the truth. The industry doesn’t have a standard and clear set of metrics to value output because it’s so different for every campaign and every client. Big agencies will charge a fortune for clever tech that analyses the behavioural implications of this TV item, or the potential influence of that blog post but clients aren’t communications’ experts and they’re crying out for a straight answer – how do I know when it’s working?

The trend over recent years has been to directly link results back to business objectives which is absolutely critical but too often that inevitably means “sell more products, quickly” thereby focusing on short term, direct response where PR is weak. Think about it, when the business is investing in multiple marketing tools and the route to purchase is full of so many intangibles, direct correlation to short term sales is always going to be hard to define. Avoid direct sales correlations and focus your PR measurement on building audiences and intention which can then be converted.

OK that makes sense but how do you measure new audiences and better intentions? In my opinion, that boils down to straightforward goal setting. Taking a reading before and after each campaign is critical. Would you lose 10lbs on a diet and then dismiss it because you thought you were only 2lbs heavier in the first place? You start by weighing yourself so you know how far you’ve come. Know where you’re starting from and then measure changes – it’s a simple part of life and business and easy to understand.

Then take a look at the best way to hit your goals. If you were dieting it would be to not eat more than 2000 calories a day, made of these foods and at these times. Yes, the same thing applies for good PR measurement. Agree which media you should be present in, use good insight to know where you should feature, identify the influencers who should be talking about you, understand what your audience is interested in and make sure your content reflects this. Setting up tactical metrics that guide the programme means that you can check in at every step of the process.

We were talking to a potential client the other day, an app targeting kids, parents and teachers. Their overall objective was to build awareness, audiences and of course downloads / usage. A good mix of media and influencers targeting parents and kids and strong content should have been at the forefront of their measurement but instead the client wanted to see themselves in Techcrunch and TNW. That’s where they saw the value but these were the cream cakes in the diet. They make you feel good but they’re not going to get you to your target weight.

At Cherish we’re very aware that good measurement means good results, means happy clients but we won’t produce cream cakes if they’re not going to work and we won’t try to bamboozle with irrelevant tools or upsell to the latest media tracking app. We take a simple diet principle:

And just like being on any good diet, there’s always a weekly weigh-in!


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