Peppercomm in the PR Measurement Guidebook – “Proving PR’s Worth”
Proving PR’s Worth
In an effort to prove that PR is worth allocating funds to, many people have turned to measurement, as they should. All efforts should be measured in order to track their effectiveness and to ensure that they are mapping back to communications and business goals. However, many people do not understand what this measurement is supposed to be. “Proving PR’s worth” is not about counting clips, impressions, and social media mentions. And, it is definitely not about using antiquated measurements such as AVEs (Ad Value Equivalency) just because this is how it’s always been done. Measurement is about measuring what matters most to the organization, whether it’s a change in reputation, an increase in sales, growth in a new market or any other key outcome. Measurement is also about being able to cull the data and make smart and informed decisions.
In order to accomplish this, before you even begin to discuss the “data,” you need to understand the objective. In other words, a general understanding of what the goal of your PR campaign is, how you define success, and what variables you are using to define this success are all necessary before launching a measurement program. Proving PR’s worth is not about using the latest technology that promises fancy dashboards or “real-time analytics.” It is about producing a metric that can be used to improve your overall PR plan and achieve business goals.
Step 1: What should you measure?
All PR campaigns should be measured, but that does not mean you or your client are ready to launch a full-scale measurement program. Maybe you just want to track basic mentions as you are ramping up your first-ever campaign or maybe you want to start with measuring sales tied to a specific event. However you get started, you need to determine if you can do this in-house or look into outsourcing your measurement needs. In addition, there needs to be an internal discussion of what “measurement” looks like so that all parties have the same expectations.
Step 2: What matters to you/ your client?
What are your/your client’s goals? This is a simple question that you should ask before measuring. What are your specific communications goals, and how do these goals impact your overarching business goals/ KPIs (key performance indicators). Whatever the answer is, that is what you build your measurement program around. Once you determine the actual goals and metrics, then you need to determine how you can show your progress towards achieving those goals (see Step 3). You want to make sure that you’re only measuring what matters to you/your client versus measuring data for data’s sake.
Step 3: What are you tracking?
Once you have decided on your communications goals and your business goals, you now need to figure out how you are measuring your progress towards these goals. What are your parameters for measurement? These go beyond number of mentions, impressions. etc. Are you looking at messages, issues, website traffic, publications, tone, and/or type of content? You then need to decide how these parameters work together to show their effect on your goals. Whether this later presented as a visualization/graphic, or a more in-depth statistical correlation, these parameters should not stand alone. Each piece of data should be meaningful and, where appropriate, correlated.
Step 4: How are you receiving your data?
At this point, all of your measurement components should be defined, and understood and approved by everyone involved. The next step is collecting your data. Do your goals require you to collect media, website traffic, or surveys? Your next step is to decide what the best form of collection is. Not all systems are created equal, so be sure to do your homework ahead of time. The appropriate data system for you could be a media aggregator (Vocus, Cision, Meltwater, etc..), Google Analytics, Survey Monkey, a market research firm, proprietary technology or a combination. There is no standard solution, therefore, it is critical to research what the ideal solution is for your specific project or ongoing measurement needs.
Step 5: How are you analyzing?
You now have your data…what do you do with it? Are you using computer technology to measure your variables? Are you using human analysts to score your data? Maybe a combination of both? Make sure you define upfront which system you will be using, and what that means for your timing and your results. You should make sure you have a way to analyze each of the parameters you developed in Step 3.
Not all of your findings are going to be fascinating or essential-. Only focus on the data that maps back to your goals. It’s also important to make sure you are looking for outcomes in addition to outputs. What does the data tell you about mapping back to your goals? In other words, did you move the needle on reputation? Did your campaign increase sales leads? If not, what prescriptive strategies are needed to align your campaign with the goals?
Step 6: What does your presentation look like?
You have successfully made the first steps to tracking your progress, but all you have now are numbers, maybe some charts and graphs, and a few definitions… but what do you do with this? How is this meaningful? You need to think of your audience. Who will be looking at this final product? What is important for them to see? Visuals? Data? What information and why? Your findings are only as good as what people can take away from them. Make sure you organize your findings in a way that not only tell a story but map back to your original goals. All of your measurement should always connect back to those goals.
Step 7: What’s next?
You have your data, and your insights and you understand how to map the data back to your goals. But, then what? , What do you do with this information? Your next step is providing actionable strategies that are based on the data. You now have proof points to ask for more budget, to change your messages, to adjust your pitching strategy- use it! Measurement is meaningless unless you use it to benefit your program and your organization/client.
Collecting and strategically analyzing the right data points will help you make informed and smart decisions for your organization/client. However, this does not mean that data should ever be manipulated to try and constantly prove that your campaigns, events, etc. are perfect and are working every time. Your measurement program must be designed in a way that demonstrates objectivity and transparency. Understanding what is not working in a program is as important as understanding what is working. The key is leveraging the right data to show your company/client how a program is working or falling flat and how to continue its success or make immediate changes. Measurement should be an ongoing, embedded process that adds value to public relations and underscores its worth.