Anyone who is serious about their work in public relations knows that measurement is a crucial part of strategic communications. Public relations professionals love to debate the issue of measurement, with opinions and approaches varying considerably depending on who you ask about it. Here we look at measuring the success of public relations strategically.
There are old and new schools of thought on the matter – it’s a bit like Australia’s transition from imperial unit measurement to the metric system. Like those people who still talk in feet and ounces, there are some PR people (at all levels) who still believe that public relations success can be measured in column inches and advertising value equivalence (AVE). On the other hand, there are PR people who assess return on investment (ROI) based on the impact of their public relations activities and the associated understanding, attitudes and behaviour change in their stakeholder groups.
With the prevalence of social media through Web 2.0, and what might come with Web 3.0, there is a range of new opportunities and tools for organisations to measure and track the reach and influence of their communication activities. But these tools can be a trap for PR functions that put too much emphasis on the numbers they record from counting Facebook ‘likes’ and poring over Google analytics. Tactical outcomes alone don’t necessarily indicate how your organisation’s PR has affected the bottom line.
Our strategic advice is that you take a comprehensive approach to measuring the impact of your PR activities and how they contribute to your organisation’s goals. So, measurement should cover both the tangible and intangible effects of your campaigns.
Public relations activities should have a positive influence in areas such as credibility, relationships, profile and reputation. These benefits are sometimes harder to measure and report than their tangible counterparts, but are very important for an organisation’s long-term prosperity.
If you want to keep your job in the future and build a career in public relations, your strategic communicationshave to make good business sense and respond to your organisation’s corporate goals. You can easily show an executive/senior manager that your PR work represents value, by demonstrating either money you made or money you saved for the organisation. In doing this you, and your PR function become an asset not a liability in the eyes of the organisation.
Some robust measures that will help you calculate your effect on the bottom line:
Brand awareness/market share
Lead generation/lead conversion
Cost of complaints or regulatory impositions/licence to operate
When push comes to shove, we PR professionals need to be able to justify our existence for two reasons:
To prove that the money the organisation has invested in public relations activities was well spent (good ROI).
To prove that our performance, as an employee, has been valuable.
These two key motivations only become more important in a contractive economy when competition is stiff for business market share and PR jobs.
Incidentally, each time you record your campaign measurements and identify successes in your strategic communications, you should immediately take note of these achievements on a master copy of your resume. This way you always have an up-to-date log of your professional achievements, and examples of success to aid you inbuilding your personal brand.
Does your organisation have an effective communications strategy? We offer a range of services to help you plan, build, and execute relevant and powerful communications strategies; Click here to get in touch with our team today.
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