How do you measure your PR?

You’ve got X amount of newspaper articles, a few double-page features and a ton of online coverage – but what does it actually mean?

In this increasingly austere financial climate there is huge pressure to prove the value of marketing, but when it comes to PR, how do we measure the return on investment? 

In June this year the second European Summit on Measurement was held in Barcelona – which attempted to define just that.

Presented by AMEC (International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication) in conjunction with the Institute for Public Relations, the conference brought together five global professional measurement and evaluation bodies, as well as nearly 200 delegates from the world’s top PR agencies and measurement firms. 

The outcome was seven measurement principles – the first ever global standard for measurement – which was published earlier this month: 

  1. Goal setting and measurement is key for any PR programme 
  2. Media measurement requires quantity and quality
  3. Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs) don’t mean anything
  4. Social Media can and should be measured 
  5. Measuring outcomes is preferred to measuring media results 
  6. Business results can and should be measured where possible 
  7. Transparency and the ability to replicate are paramount to sound measurement 

Now, is it me, or do these principles not actually mean much (just like the crudely calculated AVEs that PR has relied on for the last two decades)?

The principles have been criticised for being too ‘pedestrian’, and I have to say I agree. Take point four for example – it’s saying we should measure social media – but not actually giving any practical advice on how to do it. 

The more in-depth report does justify the points further saying things such as “media content analysis should be supplemented by web and search analytics, sales and CRM data, survey data and other methods.”

But to me, it’s still a bit hazy, with no definite actions we can put into practice. 

In principle (sorry!) the principles are a good idea, and will go some way to ensuring that measurement is no longer an afterthought – as it currently is for many in the industry. 

But do we really need a global preference when it comes to measurement?

Perhaps the approach should be to educate and encourage PR practitioners to be up front and frank with their clients at the start, and to discuss every form of measurement available to them.  

After all, each client is different and each campaign is different. So surely the way results are measured should be different too?

Whether the client prefers to quantify results by analysing key messages within articles, count the number of re-tweets on Twitter, measure the amount of direct sales or even old school AVEs, as long as we fully brief them on the pros and cons of each method it should be about the client and their needs – not about the industry attempting to justify itself through hazy bullet points.

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