How to Measure PR Efforts

How to Measure PR Efforts

This afternoon, I attended PR News’ Advanced PR Measurement Workshop: Strategies To Boost Reputation & Market Share Across all Platforms.  Johna Burke, SVP Marketing, BurrellesLuce, Ashley Welde, Director of Startegy Development, Burson-Marsteller, and Kellie Parker, Community Manager, Sega of America, spoke about how to tackle measuring PR efforts.  How do you measure success?

Measuring PR is an issue that has been around as long as the PR industry itself and it’s helpful to know that even these successful executives struggle with many of the same challenges.  The webinar provided some useful insight though that made it all worthwhile.  There’s a major difference between strategy and return as Johna pointed out.  There’s lots of terminology in the marketplace that can’t equate to a return or relate to the company’s bottom line or business objectives.  It’s more about executing a strategy and defining the parameters with your internal team.  Setting measurable metrics with applicable values and realistic expectations is an important first step.

Many companies put off measuring their work because they do not have a good starting point.  A good place to start is looking at where PR is a key fit to your client’s organization.  It’s important to have a benchmark so you can know where you are now and see how you grow – in what areas you excel and what areas you can improve.  Kellie notes that it’s not just about page views and visits though.  Fans, followers, views, re-tweets, and sentiment is all important when tracking – especially for social media.  There are many sources of data for one tracking report.

To avoiding measurement mistakes it’s important to:

  • Focus on measurable objectives at the beginning
  • Measure the impact of the organization’s objectives – not just the program objectives
  • Measure throughout the duration of the program, not just at the end

When I asked Ashley how you can measure the direct impact PR has on lead generation, she answered that this is particularly difficult since there is never just one component driving a message.  Ideally, to do this, you would need to isolate all the other moving parts so that you could measure just the effects of the PR campaign.  However, there are so many things going on at once that this is not possible.  Ashley’s answer was to simply track, track, track.  Whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly, looking at website traffic, incoming links, and the like will help show patterns and trends.  Only after six months or so will the real trends start to emerge and then you can remove superfluous activity that’s having an effect on what you’re measuring, but not resulting from PR.

While this may seem like a daunting task, it’s all the more important today as Ashley notes that since the economic crisis, 32% of CEOs are much more concerned about PR ROI than in previous years.  Only 26% of CEOs are very satisfied with their PR, which leaves a vast majority in need of convincing and demonstrating how and why their PR is important and successful to their business as a whole.  Ashley noted that, according to their research, CEOs are investing only 26% in PR market research, while investing 34% in advertising, and 36% in sales.  The need to show PR’s benefits is clear, but the challenges of tracking and measuring PR’s success and influence are still great.

Above all, Johna notes that it’s important to be SMARTSpecific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, andTimely when tracking your efforts.  It’s a lot of work to track your PR success and show an impact on the customer’s business, but is well worth the time and effort.

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