When it comes to PR activity, one of the first things you need to ask yourself is “Is it working?”.
Whether you chose to implement a media relations campaign, you’re looking at influencer strategies and brand reputation, or you simply are running an event to raise your profile, it is important to make sure that you’re measuring its success. You need to be confident that your PR is doing what you want it to do, and that you are achieving value for money.
To do this, it’s imperative that you set yourself SMART objectives at the start of any PR campaign. These are measurable metrics which will allow you to continuously track the progress of what you are doing and why. By setting clear realistic outcomes and goals, you can monitor how your campaign is performing and decide if your activities are working as effectively as they should be.
Without these pre-campaign objectives, it’s almost impossible to deem any PR activity as successful because you need to know what you are working towards and aiming to achieve.
How can I measure the success of my PR campaign?
Asking your PR manager how to measure success is like asking how long is a piece of string?
There are no right or wrong answers – unless your answer is using AVE (Advertising Value Equivalence), in which case is it most definitely a wrong answer! Years ago, AVE was a way of allocating equivalent advertising spend to the column size of an article. Rightly so, the CIPR deemed them “misleading metrics” and announced a ban on members using them.
Instead, you should be looking at a variety of ways to judge the impact of your PR activity. PR is a multi-faceted discipline, and as such, any evaluation tools should take several considerations into account.
Let’s use a media relations campaign as an example.
Many PR practitioners will judge the success of a campaign based upon the number of clippings achieved. After all, quantity should count for something. But what if we move away from sheer volume to a world where we start to analyse the quality of each individual press clipping?
- How many times has your brand been mentioned in the article?
- What is the circulation of the clip? One mention on the Daily Mail could be much more lucrative than 10 mentions in local publications
- What is the tone of the article – is it positive, neutral or negative?
- Were your preferred key messages clearly mentioned in the article?
- Are you quoted within the clip?
- Have you an image?
- Are there contact details or a link to your website?
- Has the article been shared by the publication on their social media channels – if so, what has that engagement been like? Are commentators on social media talking favourably about your brand?
- If the article is online, can you see any direct referrals through to your website in your Google Analytics account?
- Have you had an increased number of enquiries following publication?
- If you’ve had increased enquiries, have they converted to sales (if applicable)?
As you can see – if you start to question the impact of each clipping, you’ll start to get a much stronger understanding of how successful your activity has really been.
Success isn’t one-size fits all
It’s important to note that evaluations and success metrics should never be a one-size-fits-all approach. Every campaign has its own individual nuances and differences and should be judged accordingly.
You need to consider what you were trying to achieve and then look at how you can measure this success.
In today’s digital world, we have more analytical tools than ever before at our fingertips which makes it much easier to help you judge your PR activity. Some tools (such as Google Analytics) are free, whilst others may require a subscription (great options include Trendkite and Coverage Book).
Evaluation shouldn’t be left to the end
In our view, evaluations shouldn’t be left at the end of the campaign. Whilst there is justification is working this way as you have the benefit of hindsight, it also means that you have lost your chance to adjust your tactics mid-campaign.
A great benefit of working in today’s digital PR world is that we can see instantly what is working, and what could be improved. We have data analytics at our doorstep, and we need to continually use these throughout all campaigns to check that our strategies are correct.
At Gatekeeper Communications, we advocate for continual benchmarking. We set out clear, realistic targets at the start of each campaign and we consistently check our progress throughout. This allows us to adjust where necessary, helping to improve the impact and success of your PR activity.