Is your PR campaign actually working? Do you even know the answer? Have you or your PR agency been tracking the results?
PR measurement is essential to grading the performance of your campaign. Unfortunately, not all PR professionals measure their campaigns, and of those that do, there’s not really a standard way to measure results. The problem with this is that PR firms can skew the results to make it look like they’re doing a better job with your campaign than they really are.
Most PR firms will point to:
- The amount of publicity they’ve generated (not necessarily the quality of said publicity)
- The number of mentions your company earned vs. the competition
- Money saved by getting coverage in publications rather than paying for ad placement (advertising value equivalency)
And while all of these benchmarks are certainly important to look at, the truth is there’s more to the story of your PR campaign than that. So, what else should you be measuring to accurately grade your PR campaign?
- Effectiveness at reaching target audience – It’s not enough to simply get coverage in magazines, newspapers, and blogs. You need to make sure the publications you’re appearing in are publications your target audience reads. Otherwise, these mentions are essentially useless (i.e. If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it really happen?).
- Target audience’s opinion – Ideally, your PR campaign should improve the way your target audience perceives your company. The best ways to measure your target audience’s opinion is through surveys and focus groups. Unfortunately, doing these properly can get fairly expensive, exceeding the budget of many small to medium-sized businesses.
- Lead generation – An effective PR campaign can be focused on building leads through increasing word of mouth, driving traffic to your website, and more.
- Comparisons against past results – Of course, the key to measuring any results from your PR campaign is to have something to measure it against. To get the clearest picture, you need to have past results to measure against (e.g. past number of leads generated per month vs. current number of leads generated per month). You can also compare your results to those of your competitors. The point is to have something to compare against otherwise the numbers don’t really tell you anything.
This list could go on and on, and some of these may not apply to you. That’s why the most effective way to measure your PR campaign is to clearly identify goals and measurable objectives before launching the campaign. For instance, common measurable PR goals could be:
- Generate revenue
- Improve customer loyalty
- Get more leads
- Improve efficiency (deliver your message for less money)
- Increase word of mouth mentions on social media
- Improve customer’s attitude toward your brand
Of course, the problem with all of this is that measuring results takes money, and with companies looking to cut costs in this economy, it can be hard for them to cobble together the budget necessary for proper measuring. According to research by USC Annenberg, measurement costs should average 3 to 7 percent of a total PR budget. In many cases, this isn’t always practical.
What are your thoughts on PR measurement? Do you think it’s important? How do you measure the effectiveness of your campaigns? Share your thoughts in the replies.
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.