PR – Measuring What Matters

Measuring What Matters

You’ve got your lovely shiny new PR Strategy lined up for the next few months, so how will you know if you’ve been successful?

You’ve been clear on your aims and objectives – which have been honed down to something very SMART indeed. But have you thought carefully enough about your success measurement – the ‘M’ in SMART?

It’s a bit simplistic to say “I want lots of coverage”.  Whilst this is one aspect, just counting cuttings is not going to give you the full picture and this is especially true now that we’re in the age of web coverage, bloggers and social media.

In the past the success of a media campaign was often judged in terms of how much it would have cost to gain a similar amount of space if it had been paid for – an advertisement in other words.

So if you gained half a page of editorial in The Times you would look at how much a half page advertisement would have cost in the same section – eg around £9,000.

This is known as the Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) and it was always a fairly blunt tool that was used to compare one piece of coverage against another.

However, what it doesn’t show is the true value to your business. If you are trying to get a new food product into stores then appearing in The Grocer may be more relevant and important in influencing buyers than a nice piece with a greater AVE that appears elsewhere.

Nowadays if you want to reach potentially interested consumers with product news you might want to define your campaign success as gaining x social media followers or consider how much amplification you’ve achieved through likes or retweets. This could be a far more valuable outcome for your specific campaign than pieces in the local paper that hit a more general audience and don’t allow the ability to provide direct product updates to interested individuals in the future.

It’s important to be specific over what success looks like for you.  It’s all very well gaining an impressive looking five pieces of online coverage from across the globe, but if you were actually aiming to reach a UK audience can you really say that your campaign has been successful?

So whilst it’s useful to be able to place a quantitative figure on your coverage you also need to consider a more qualitative approach – the measurement tools of which you will need to define in line with your own campaign objectives.  For example, if you are looking to change perceptions of your brand you would give greater value to the coverage that gets key messages or branding across.

As you can see, measuring PR success is not a cut and dried process of simply totting up the number of press clippings or calculating the AVE.

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