Public relations professionals have long struggled to measure the value of their services. Over the years PR pros have used measurements such as the number and quality of clippings, clicks and retweets.
Unfortunately, such statistics do not measure what’s important to management. What matters to them are business outcomes. These are more difficult to track, but much more valuable when it comes to validating the worth of your PR activities.
The white paper “PR Measurement that Matters” (Nasdaq Corporate Solutions and Ragan Communications) attempts to help PR pros “measure your communication efforts, align PR objectives to business goals, and prove your value within your organization” by showing a relationship between PR activities and business objectives.
Here are some highlights from the paper.
Set Clear Measurable Objectives
First identify what you’re trying to do and what the results mean to you. Face it. You’re always trying to get your target audience to DO something:
So simply ask yourself what do you want them to do in relation to your company’s or client’s business goals.
Maybe you want to drive people to a specific page on your website. Secure coverage in 20 top-tier media outlets. Increase the number of leads or signups.
Whatever the goals, make sure they are measurable and have a specific time frame for achievement.
Then develop your strategies. A good way to begin is to do the time-tested SWOT analysis, evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the given product or service.
Another way is to define the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which help you understand how well you are achieving your objectives.
Track Your Website Analytics
Before a campaign, use Google Analytics to benchmark your site’s traffic and track how it changes over the duration of the campaign.
Pay close attention to search engine optimization (SEO), which can help you attract the right kind of customer. As part of SEO, create great content, including pictures, infographics and video. If you add content incrementally it may be easier to identify which content has the greatest impact.
To measure the degree to which PR activities have changed people’s awareness, opinion, and behavior, survey your target audience and track feedback against your benchmark data. “Surveys can determine what led customers to buy or advocate for your product or cause, be it through TV ads, a newsletter, Twitter, Facebook or blogs.”
In preparing your survey, use short, closed questions.
Go beyond measuring the “share of voice, which is “a way of measuring how much a brand or product is talked about compared with its competitor.” Share of voice is useful, but you also have to consider the tone of the “voice” (positive, negative or neutral) and the outcome. Did the share of voice drive tangible results? Or not?
In that regard, measure the impact of your social media outreach. Social media gives you real-time data, so track metrics such as how many people are talking about you, who they are, what they are saying, and how influential they are.
Create opportunities to capture the information you need. Track the number of hits to the link in your news release. Require registration for high-value content such as webinars or reports. Add data-gathering questions to your call center’s script. (e.g., “How did you hear about this?”)
Then work with marketing and sales to track how these contacts turned into leads into revenue. This way you’ll be able to tie results to your specific activities and take credit for those results.
In the end, it’s all about identifying the outcomes that result from your activities. Did you “move the needle” for the business? Ideally, you’ll have some knock-‘em-dead stats that will convince your client or boss to value your work and take your advice.
One final note. “In practice, PR measurement continues to vary across organizations. But one thing is clear: Your work has value, and you can provide more to hard-nosed executives by focusing on measuring what matters.”