The lack of effective measurement and evaluation in PR has become the proverbial albatross hanging around the neck of the industry. It's not that nobody believes a system of evaluation is needed; rather that no method has really been put forward or agreed upon.
As Freddie pointed out in his blog last November, the absence of an agreed measurement system has led to almost 60% of PR campaigns not being evaluated at all. This not only means that clients do not get a realistic idea of the value of their investment, but also it can appear that PRs do not feel it important to place a value upon their own work. And maybe for those who shun PR this is where the problem lies, as there is no way to define return on investment.
The difficulty is in specifying what the real value of PR is, as it can differ between clients and campaigns. The Barcelona Principles have helped to clarify this somewhat, by setting forth a list of key areas for an effective PR measurement tool to consider. However, no method of measurement for these factors was ever developed. This is where the next problem lies - how do you begin to measure value?
The standard fall-back for this has always been AVE – a woefully inadequate system which fails to incorporate many of the things crucial to a successful PR campaign, and though it generates a financial value for the client, the figure is not an accurate representation of what PR can do for a business.
There is a distinct need for a more considerate, all-encompassing measurement system to be introduced, which is why we at BlueSky have been busy creating one of our own.
The BlueSky Metior is structured around five key factors which we deem to be important when evaluating coverage for a client. We look at the size of the article our client is included in, the presence our client has within the piece, the circulation figures of the publication, the relevance of the article to the typical readership of the publication, and finally, the overall tone of the piece. The Metior also considers other elements such as the impact of social media, the use of photographs and any follow-up articles.
The Metior creates a score for each piece of coverage, which we use to use to show clients how we’re meeting their needs, and also can help them to understand what has worked well and what hasn’t. The scores can also be used to create graphs of monthly activity, make comparisons for benchmarking purposes, and can even be used for goal-setting. We’ve been using the Metior for some months now, and have received a lot of positive feedback from both our existing clients, and potential new ones. The Metior has also gained the approval of some experienced PR practitioners.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that all PR firms should do as we do, but I do feel that as an industry we need to be able to evaluate and share our work with our clients. At a time when businesses are increasingly focusing on cutting costs, it is more important than ever to be able to justify your services in a tangible way to your clients, and essentially answer the most basic question “what’s in it for me?” For us, and for our clients, the Metior does just that.
What are your views on PR measurement?