Opinion: The importance of measurement in public relations | Opinion
This is a topic that was written about him. How to measure a public relations campaign? What is the value of earned media and how do we define a successful effort? Agencies all over the world are working hard on reports and structures that justify the hard work, long hours, and absolute effort they take to gain visibility for their clients. At the end of each campaign, corporate communications and agencies strive to justify the ROI and success of each campaign.
So why is measuring public relations so difficult?
There are several reasons for the same. For starters, the standard AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent) no longer functions as a powerful tool. PR is not advertising. You cannot quantify an article about your company or brand in square inches and column centimeters. The reason for this comes down to the fact that it is “earned” space. It brings a different value to the equation as opposed to the amount of space you have purchased or reserved for a creative. Another important driver of change is the decline of print and the rise of digitalization. As logs dwindle, older AVE ratings have no value. Blogs, social media platforms, podcasts and new media have replaced traditional media across the world. These may not have the old measurement standard and are highly dependent on analysis. All of this has led to greater division and confusion in the world of marketing and public relations as everyone struggles to find common ground.
So how do we measure success?
Remember why you’re engaging in public relations: Ultimately, public relations is about reputation management and focused, well-defined goals. The Barcelona Principles have placed goal setting as the number one aspect of public relations. Ideally, these goals should be defined by both macro and micro goals. Likewise, they must also be defined by quantitative and qualitative objectives that can be used to measure the tangible elements. These goals should also have some distinct aspects, such as:
Time limit: Goals should be set within time frames that work in tandem with the organization’s business timelines. If you want to hire more resources, it is imperative to have a framework prepared for employer branding
Results: Were you able to tap into critical industry events and media reports? Is there an instant increase in business sales after a social media or influencer campaign? Do you have business or investor questions? Do people remember some of your biggest initiatives? These are results that can help you define the impact of public relations on real-time business goals.
Feel and Tone: The first word in public relations is “Public”, which means that ultimately you are dealing with humans who react to your public outreach program. We often measure quantity, but how many of us measure quality? Fifty negative stories about a brand might appear in quantitative metrics as an explosive media economy, but the tone would be detrimental to the organization. What kind of sentiment is associated with your brand? Is the tone positive or negative? These are very important factors for the brand, overall.
Messaging: In today’s time of cluttered messages, it’s essential to assess the reach of your campaign. If you are a lipstick brand, reach even the demographic you have in mind. Will traditional media work better for your new product launch, or would a set of beauty bloggers work better? These are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself when planning your campaigns across different product lines. An investor brand might need to find a better way to reach stakeholders, while a startup might need to share company growth numbers the most. Is this the right time in your brand’s lifecycle to even discuss the numbers? Or should we wait.
Reach: Hallelujah for digital media! If there’s one thing he’s brought to the table, it’s the ability to measure every impression and every blog visit to give us real-time analysis of reach. These are numbers that matter. Traffic to your own website through news portals, blogs, and social media can help you define what works best and what doesn’t. Reach can and should be used in the best possible way to measure the success of heavy digital campaigns.
In short, measurement will remain the elephant in the room in such a fragmented and cluttered media environment. True measurement is not just for corporate communication, but for the whole team to see it as an end-to-end process for successful results.
(The author is co-founder of PRPOI and founder of Intelliquo. This is the second in a three-part PRPOI series on the PR industry in India.)