For any PR professionals, one of the fundamental parts of the work is to measure the success of what we do. Just like anything else you pay for; you want to make sure that the service you are paying for is worth it. But in the PR industry, that is often easier said than done.
Thankfully, digitalisation has made this slightly easier as we can collect data about consumers, which allows us to target our campaigns better, and provided some tools to measure the success of PR campaigns.
Whilst digitalisation has improved our ability to measure PR success, it is still difficult in many ways. As my colleague Kyle said in his blog last week, “PR works through attempting to change behaviour, thoughts, and decisions of others and this is very difficult to measure.”
So, before I delve into how you can measure PR success, it is essential to understand why it is important.
Why is it important?
PR has become fundamental in the success of organisations over the last decade. It helps to achieve goals by providing another way to reach audiences, by building brand awareness and creating a positive image of your business or institution. Used correctly, PR can give a company the ability to overcome many obstacles they may face, which is why it has become essential.
That being said, when facing a crisis that could lead to financial hardship, which in these current circumstances has become increasingly common, PR is often (wrongly) one of the first things to go. PR professionals both in-house and within agencies are facing increasing pressure to justify the value of the work they do, because some may believe that there are more important things that they can be spending their money on. So that’s why, especially now, it has become more important than ever to prove the value PR has on institutions.
Another – more positive – reason why it’s important is that it allows PR professionals to refine future campaigns. Measuring the success of campaigns reveals what works and what doesn’t. When spending hours conducting research, chasing journalists and sending out press releases, measuring success provides validation that efforts are on the right track. Choosing the right metrics means that communications professionals and stakeholders can see if strategies work and, if not, what they need to do to improve it.
So, I’ve explained the importance of measuring PR, now let’s look at how to do that.
How can you measure PR?
The first thing to do before any campaign is to set out goals and measurable objectives. This will help to work out what the best metric for measuring success is and will help refine a strategy.
Once that’s done, it’s more easy to decide which of the methods below could be most suitable for measuring the success of a campaign.
1. Press hits from target publications
Here at BlueSky Education, this is an important and effective way for us to measure the success of our campaigns. Usually, the aim for our clients is to get their research/faculty/programmes in the media, and we work out target publications that they want to hit to best suit their needs and meet their goals. We then provide updates which showcase all of the media coverage that we have secured with various numerical milestones included. It effectively highlights the work that we do.
2. Media impressions
A media impression is a calculation used to estimate the number of people who have heard about your brand within a given time period. For example, if your company, institution or product was mentioned on a television show that had one million viewers, that would count as one million media impressions.
Media impressions are not just limited to television or print media, it can be nearly any interaction a reader or viewer has with a piece of content – so technically, a scroll past an advert on Facebook or Twitter counts as an impression. So, it’s important to take this with a pinch of salt, but it still is a useful tool in determining the impact of a campaign.
3. Social media engagement
As you are probably well aware, social media has grown massively in the last two decades and now more than ever, journalists are relying on social media to increase the reach of their pieces. According to a survey in Muck Rack’s Annual Journalist survey, 64 per cent of journalists worldwide said they tracked how many times their stories were shared on social media.
PRs could take a leaf out of their books, and track the amount of engagement, such as likes, comments, mentions and shares their content gets. If it is successful on social media, it is highly likely that indicates a successful campaign. It’s something we include in our measurement at BlueSky too.
In sum, it is more important than ever to measure the success of PR given the current climate that we are in. If you set out the goals and targets beforehand, then the methods above should help you to determine if your campaign was successful.