How do you know if your PR’s working?
Measuring value in PR is the perennial challenge of our industry. If the asset we’re looking to build is reputation, then its value lies in what other people think – something that is notoriously difficult to quantify. Yet measure it we must if we want to demonstrate value. And of course, our ability to prove this impact is key to our own credibility, reputation and long-term success.
It’s indicative of the scale of the challenge that the public relations industry is clearer on what doesn’t constitute measurement rather than what does! PR is more than column inches, and ‘Advertising Equivalent Value’ in particular – that blunt instrument of the past – has long been discredited, to the extent that referencing it will be enough to disqualify a campaign from winning any self-respecting PR awards.
Instead, the Barcelona principles, first introduced in 2010 to set a new standard for measurement, place the emphasis on bespoke evaluation for bespoke campaigns. In other words, be clear on your objectives, visualise what success looks like in terms of key messages, where these will be seen and heard and by whom, and most importantly what will happen as a result.
In essence, keeping the focus not on PR outputs and uptake but on PR impact and outcomes is crucial.
The challenge here, as most marketers know only too well, is isolating the impact of one element of communication from everything else you’re doing. Or put another way, if you get an enquiry through your website, how do you identify what drove the person to your website in the first place. In some instances there will be a traceable digital ‘footprint’ that Google Analytics can help you pinpoint but it will rarely tell the full story.
Counting – whether column inches or clickthroughs – can only ever be a blunt tool when what you’re looking to measure is a shift in perception.
Instead, we’ve put together a Triangle ‘how-to’ guide revealing the things that we believe really matter when it comes to evaluating PR.