Public Relations Measurement Essentials

There are numerous options out there to serve the marketing and public relations needs for a range of industries, whether focusing on a social media pathway or utilizing more traditional forms of media outreach.

However, the hard work is not done once the press releases have been sent out. An essential component of any effective PR strategy is to be sure to track the success rate of any campaign. Most professionals will recommend looking at certain factors as a way to gauge market outreach and performance, and there are a number of companies out there who have developed specialized tracking tools to make this process even easier. A company will utilize years of experiences and specialized tools to track performance, but also ensure that trained analysts confirm any automatic results.

No matter what the target results of a campaign are, there are certain essentials to be aware of.

Clear goals

Any PR or marketing professional knows that the key to a successful campaign is to know what the goals are in terms of target audience, have a clear message to send, and have a full understanding of what the intended action is on the part of the recipient. If the goal is to visit a website, all materials must clearly funnel activity towards that goal.

For PR purposes, it helps to have a clear idea of how this campaign will influence larger business or marketing goals. It may be appealing to send out press releases to major media outlets for a regional fishing business, but if the end result of this action does not increase business activity it was essentially a failed campaign.

Measurement rubrics

In order to effectively measure the success of a PR campaign it is essential that the tools being used for measurement are reliable. Just as with scientific research, if the analytic tests don’t measure the needed variables, it is impossible to assign a value of success.

For a long time, the standard of public relations measurement was to use an advertising value equivalent (AVE), or basically to value PR placements by comparing them to what an equivalent ad placement would cost. The problem with this is that it does not fully look at the overall value of PR, and instead looks at it as a form of advertisement. This process was unable to fully account for social media usage, and instead only compared PR media placement in traditional forms. Put simply: the value of getting a release to a national print newspaper would be the same as whatever it costs to put an equivalent ad in that newspaper, which in no way takes into account the full value of effective PR.

Forms of media

It used to be that PR professionals would target print or broadcast placements, either industry specific or national, as a first-line approach to publicizing information.

However, with the growth of accessibility on the web and new social media platforms being developed each day, the modern PR professional has to negotiate a range of options for optimal placement and visibility. This is why many traditional forms of tracing the success of a PR campaign are no longer useful; they neglect to factor in these elements. There is more and more research being done each day on how to effectively monitor these platforms.

Traditional media – namely print and broadcast – used to require factoring in the reach of those formats and how the information is being presented. For example, a negative article that mentions a business that you are looking for positive press for will only further damage a campaign. Similarly, great placement in a regional sector far outside of the target market may be good for the ego, but will do little in the terms of long-term effectiveness.

New forms of media like social media have changed this approach. While there are ways to target ad placement to specific target demographics on some platforms, the general consensus is that one of the main goals for social media elements of a campaign is to generate interaction between viewers and the brand. In some platforms this is in the form of likes or favorites, and in others it is in the form of re-sharing this information.

The players

With the changes that new media forms have brought, the players in the PR game have changed a bit. When traditional media was the target, professionals identified writers or personalities who had the appropriate tone to present the information in an organic way.

Nowadays, social media has made everyone a potential source of information sharing. Of course, the actions of sharing information and engaging with your profiles is one element, but the advent of social media influencers has become a focus of how to maximize efficacy.

For some industries, celebrity voices remain the standard in promoting a product, service, or location. There are mega-celebrities from just about any region and industry that can promote products to their massive amounts of followers. This makes them a “trusted voice” that can be tapped into to spread a PR campaign.

Aside from that, there are social media specific celebrities who have become essential to a lot of campaigns. Typically just “normal people” who have developed a specific voice and/or content stream, these users have become elevated to an almost celebrity level based on their amount of followers and daily outreach.

A comprehensive strategy

In order to accurately gain public relations measurement analytic information, these days it is necessary to consider all forms of media, from the traditional to new forms. Old standards still apply, however, in that it is always necessary to have a clear idea of goals, as it is impossible to measure the effectiveness of an undefined variable. Quality still matters over quantity in most cases, so finding the right tone and placement requires knowing who the major influencers are in the area being targeted, in order to optimize the expected behavior that the campaign set out to achieve.