By Louise Findlay-Wilson, Creator of PrPro and Owner of Energy PR
One of the most common questions I'm asked is 'how do you measure PR? (public relations)'
It's a fair question. Whether you do-it-yourself or hire an agency, public relations will inevitably suck up some precious time or budget and so you will quite rightly want to know whether it’s worth that investment.
Let me first off say, if this is a question you recently put to a PR agency, and their reply involved simply measuring column inches, Sack Them! Any agency, which solely tries to peddle this as a way of measuring what they're delivering, is either operating in the dark ages or trying to hoodwink you - and I wouldn't want either type of agency handling my PR.
OK...So what should they be saying?
When measuring any aspect of your PR, you must start with your business objectives. Get clear about what you are trying to achieve. A platitude like ‘I want more people to have heard of me’ doesn’t cut it!
To be effective your PR machine needs more clarity and direction than that. For instance you may want:
- Visitors to your site – important if it’s is an e-commerce site
- More candidates on your roster – vital if you’re a recruitment firm operating in a space where candidates are in short supply
- First page placement on the search engines for certain key terms - because you want to pick off certain niche markets
- An increase in your contact base – crucial if you have a sophisticated email marketing system that’s great at turning contacts into customers
- People to download certain materials and thus get educated on a specific topic – a key aim for those promoting causes, public health campaigns etc
You get the gist. It's the delivery/support of these kinds of objectives (not simply column inches!) that your PR should be measured against.
If these don’t sound like PR objectives, that’s because you have set the bar too low in the past!
With site metrics and analytics, plus the proper briefing of the staff that answer your phones, it has never been easier to connect your PR activity with the resultant action – so make the resultant action something that matters to your business.
Having done this put a monetary value on the desired action – be it a new name on the database, a site visitor or a down-loader. For instance, in the case of adding people to your database, if you know that you typically convert 10% and they typically spend £600 and your margin is 20%, that means a profit contribution of £120 from one in every 10 new database contacts. So a new contact added to your database is worth £12.
By all means include media coverage into your measurement mix but don’t let that be the only thing that counts – if you do, it’s not only your PR that’s not measuring up...you’re not either!
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