Public Relations is often misunderstood; viewed as a tactic rather than the value proposition that it is.
PR is one of the surest ways to strengthen brand perception and change perspectives. Using our superpowers of Influence and Persuasion, we create PR programmes that are strategic and insightful, to influence meaningful outcomes for brands in terms of growth, awareness, advocacy and understanding.
Earned media is, time and again, shown to be the most effective route to gaining goodwill and articulating brand principles and purpose. Consumers today are more interested in understanding the ethical codes of companies and have been proven to support brands that are in line with their own moral standings.
To drive outcomes, we consider the Earned-Shared-Owned-Paid equation. Each represents an important aspect to consider when building Integrated PR strategy and should always be considered in conjunction with one another to ensure consistency of message and positioning. (Side note: I believe ESOP is a stronger strategy than PESO, as it places ‘earned’ outcomes front and center of a brand’s communications marketing programme.)
Outcomes of public relations go so much further than counting clippings (and should never involve discussion of AVEs). Real PR outcomes are those that have impact on business objectives, and are focused towards driving credibility, attention and advocacy. We measure these key factors through reach, message penetration, sentiment and engagement metrics. PR is moving towards smarter measurement frameworks that reflect that real value of what we do, and as Chair of the Council of PR Firms of Hong Kong and a supporter of AMEC, I strive to share this message of PR value to the professional community in Asia.
Integrated PR, one of the most cost-effective and impactful marketing strategies, has in the past lacked the tools to prove its worth. This is changing, as we change the way we are measuring Integrated PR programmes. We are now able to demonstrate that PR is a low-cost investment and a revenue generation centre, rather than a cost centre.
Previous measurement tools, such as the dreaded Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE), confuse ‘cost’ with ‘value’ – that is, these models are based on the cost of advertising rather than on the value derived from public relations. Sinclair, together with leading PR agencies around the world, is moving towards a more effective measurement framework to showcase the value of our work for brands. At Sinclair, we base measurement on the internationally accepted AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework.
To create impactful outcomes, we need to understand where we are headed – what it is we aim to achieve from our work – before we get started. Planning a strong PR programme is centered on understanding the objectives of our work, in terms of both the business outcomes desired and the communications outcomes that will get us there.
Business objectives are focused on meeting a customer’s needs. This is why, more and more, PRs need to solve customers’ problems, and not just focus on those of the media. Using insights, a true talent of PR professionals, we need to build strategy towards driving outcomes that have bottom line impact.
Steps towards achieving impactful outcomes
We listen to our clients and ensure we understand the real goal of the PR work and set measurable objectives around this. It’s important to understand the business objective of the work (whether it’s sales-driven, lead-driven, talent-focused, or around perception change) and the communications objectives that will lead to these goals from the outset.
PR should use measurements that are C-suite friendly and that help showcase the true value of the investment. For each organisation this will be different, so the measurement matrix should be decided together to ensure realistic alignment of objectives and KPIs.
We build strategy with measurement and outcomes in mind at every level. Remember, if you can’t show the client that what you did has made an impact, why do it at all?
We benchmark every step of the way against past work and/or set KPIs. Measuring at the end is important to show the final outcome, but measuring as we go allows us to fine tune our programme based on responses from consumers, media and influencers.
We influence outcomes and create impact for clients
The team at Sinclair has created meaningful impact for our clients, and over the last year alone we have achieved the following outcomes on their behalf:
Don’t forget that outcomes can also be in the form of not being in the conversation. Consider issues and crisis management, where the objective is to ensure positive brand reputation –through expert management there will be no harmful social media mentions or media coverage.
Our big picture objectives for PR work are to build brand trust, credibility and attention. We do this through influence. We differentiate through narrative, attaching the brand to the stories that are of interest and concern to consumers. We ensure our stories are in constant motion and attract the right audiences, with earned attention at the core, therefore creating a dialogue rather than a monologue. We do this through a focus on outcomes. That’s how we help brands grow.