Proving the value of PR: how can public relations be measured?

24 Apr 2019

As the scope of public relations continues to evolve, the way in which we best measure what we do continues to be a negotiated framework. However, it’s undeniable that data and insights are now key to driving the PR measurement structure – and there certainly seems to be a shift towards client ROI being tightly mapped to measurable business results rather than volume of coverage. But this, of course, still leaves the question of how to best measure public relations efforts, and is the most frequent query from clients when discussing the value of PR.

Here are some of the most common questions we receive about PR measurement:

What’s wrong with Advertising Value Equivalents, or AVE?

This traditional measurement of PR coverage has been blacklisted by communications professionals. Media value (AVE) is based on an advertising rate card, for which there is never a fixed price, as it can, and often does, differ according to the media outlet. Putting the same dollar sign next to PR efforts does not measure anything – AVEs simply cannot translate the impact communications outreach has on your target audience. And isn’t this what we’re working towards?

What are your recommended PR metrics?

Many PR campaigns these days involve PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) media and content, so it’s essential to measure the communications effort with an integrated approach. Apart from measuring the key message penetration and keywords through content analysis, other metrics like sentiment, social media mentions and engagement, search interests, website traffic, lead generation and sales trends are also useful.

How can we set the metrics?

Be SMART (smart, measurement, achievable, relevant and timely). And always go back to your objectives. We shouldn’t be measuring every single data point, but rather, we need to focus on what really matters to your business. Communication objectives should go beyond tallying the amount of coverage you receive – your communications objectives should link back to your business objectives. That’s the smart way to do it!

How can I ensure these metrics fit my organisation?

It’s about consistency – identify a methodology that fits your organisation’s goals and allows you to draw a comparison – whether it be across time, campaigns, or markets.

What measurement framework does Sinclair use?

At Sinclair, our measurement reporting aligns with the AMEC framework. AMEC is the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication, an association backed by agencies and industry practitioners (including Sinclair), with an objective to advance measurement and evaluation standards within the PR and communications industry.

The framework is based on seven steps of strategic communications: Objectives > Inputs > Activities > Outputs > Out-takes > Outcomes > Organisational Impact. Metrics are divided into these seven categories, which offer more transparency around which stages of the communications programme are succeeding and should be sustained, as well as locating pain points that should be addressed for upcoming efforts to be more effective. It is also an essential tool for campaign planning and feedback loops.

At Sinclair, we are constantly looking for ways to enhance how we measure our work. Enhanced measurement leads to more transparency in how communications professionals do their jobs. In turn, this transparency leads to useful data that showcases the value of public relations to meeting business objectives.

Always go back to your objectives. We shouldn’t be measuring every single data point, but rather, we need to focus on what really matters to your business.

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