March 5, 2013 § Leave a comment
Measuring the value of public relations is an important, yet often overlooked, process. Knowing what groundwork and benchmarks must be in place and how to utilize the information you gather through measurement is important to ongoing success and key to recognizing where further improvements can be made. With this in mind, we’ve developed a group of ideas to consider when measuring your PR efforts.
Before creating your PR tactics, you need to have an understanding of what specific goals your client wishes to achieve. Objectives must be clear and holistic, looking at the “big picture” and addressing large-scale outcomes. These objectives can range from generating basic awareness to growing your client’s market share by “x%.” Your objectives should be as specific as possible – outlining what effects are intended to come from the campaign. Having quantitative objectives is preferred – as they are easier to measure and more useful when presenting results to a number-oriented audience. “Bolstering awareness,” is not a good objective, as it is too vague and impossible to measure. However, “bolstering Facebook awareness with women ages 20-25 by a 5% increase in engagement by March 2014” is a strong objective as it is specific and easily measurable. Building objectives is an opportunity to work closely with your clients to help develop and tap into their overall business strategy.
Measure Outcomes Relevant to Business
When measuring the effectiveness of PR efforts, it is important to focus more on the outcomes of the work – rather than the outputs. Were there any changes in consumer habits, employee attitude, company reputation, brand equity or similar effects? Those changes are what the client’s business executives and planners are going to want to know. To validate your PR campaign, it is important that you can prove that business objectives were met effectively. Developed objectives that are focused on what your client wants to have change in perception, attitude or behavior from the campaign will make this step in the measurement process easier.
Quality over Quantity
The amount of total impressions in the media is often mistaken as the most important aspect of measurement. The quality of the impression is much more important, as each impression is an opportunity to connect with an individual on a personal level. Quality is enhanced when the medium is relevant and credible to the audience and delivered using the most appropriate method. Also, adding a third-party spokesperson improves the credibility of your message, enhancing the quality of the impression.
After understanding the significant measurements, it is important to present your findings to your client appropriately. All PR measurements must be presented in a way that is fully transparent to the process used to gather the data. If surveys were used, the size, margin of error and questions should all be released. Likewise, the method used to calculate metrics and specific statistical information should be made available as well. Another important feature of measuring results is making sure the process used to get the results is replicable. Using the same method to compare results of future PR efforts and campaigns will be important to make meaningful comparisons.
Measuring Social Media is Important Too!
Measuring social media efforts is a young but important aspect of PR. There is no single tool or metric in which to measure social media outcomes – and combining a variety of different methods can prove beneficial. With social media, it is important to have clear, concise and specific goals in mind. When dealing with social media, the measurement is going to be focused on “conversation” and “engagement,” not simply reach and frequency. It is important to understand reach – however putting more time and consideration into experimenting and testing is key to effectively measuring your PR efforts. Reach and frequency measurements can be explored through the use of a free service called Klout. This tool uses an algorithm to determine how influential a social media account or accounts are. It is important not to use any social media measurement tool alone, Klout can be paired up with Google Analytics, which can show the traffic on a client’s website. Combining both services’ information, a PR team can determine not only how influential the social media account is, but how well it engages the audience by moving them to visit your client’s website. Facebook has its own built-in analytics tool. This feature can show increases or decreases in regards to a page’s reach as well as key demographic information about the audience. TweetReach is another tool that can calculate the reach and engagement of your Twitter page. Regardless of what tool you choose – it is important to monitor the effectiveness of your social media efforts.
Clearly, it is important to measure the effectiveness of a PR campaign or just a PR tactic. How did it align with our objectives? Did we accomplish our goal through this tactic? Keeping expectations realistic by developing specific objectives prior to executing your tactics is the foundation of strong measurement results. Remember to keep measurement focused on quantitative results, and quality engagement. While measurement isn’t always easy, it is important in making the most out of a complete public relations plan. Ongoing evaluation and measurement is an essential part of the PR process.