PR has grown up. Industry wide initiatives such as the Barcelona Principles have shown that communications professionals now need to talk the language of the boardroom. It is no longer enough to report on the quantity of coverage a campaign has generated, but to analyse the next step in the process – what outcomes that coverage has prompted. Activity needs to meet clients’ business objectives, whether they are driving increased trust, behavioural change, building communities or driving sales. Counting column inches and using outdated methods of demonstrating return on investment through AVEs have swiftly become outdated. After all why would the cost of advertising be equal to the value of PR? While delivering quality outputs continues to motivate teams to excel, what really matters are the effects those outputs can have on a target audience base.
PR measurement has become a real-time strategic business insight tool for today’s boardrooms. Analysing the data gained to assess the effectiveness of a campaign is used to inform the approach for the next piece of activity, and indeed is used to adapt current work as it progresses. Through agreed KPIs set around business outcomes such as revenue, customer engagement, profit, investment and volume, campaigns can become fully accountable and prove their own worth to key decision makers.
Don’t get me wrong, PR professionals shouldn’t lose their artistic flair and throw in the towel of creativity in favour of lab-coats and algorithms. The balance between the data working for the business and the business working for the data should not be lost, and it is important not to get hamstrung by numbers to the detriment of PR magic. However, PR campaigns worth their weight need to demonstrate the link between activities and clients’ business outcomes.
So how should effective PR measurement work? First of all, everything should start with a clear brief produced in tandem with the client, with specific, SMART, measurable and transparent objectives. Next, working closely with market research partners, creative and strategic ideas should be rooted within solid data. At Publicasity, we produce a holistic ‘reputation reading’ for our clients, taking into account market place research, key trends, competitor reviews, social listening, digital audits, consumer polls, mystery shops (where relevant) and the media landscape, enabling us to consult, collaborate and create a 360° campaign with maximum impact. Goals should hinge on insights which will motivate key target audiences and should be based on an action statement, a timeline and a quantifiable measurement outcome. OK, so we do like the odd equation if it demonstrates the worth of our inspirational creativity. Here comes the science: ROI is calculated as the gain from investment minus the cost of investment, divided by the cost of investment. To sum up, communications creates business value in the following steps: Activity, Output, Outcome and Business ROI.
So remember, PR can help make you or your brand famous, but if it can’t demonstrate its impact on a business objective, it is unlikely to get the boardroom’s attention. As the agency where outcomes matter, Publicasity’s stand-out campaigns significantly influence business objectives, and therefore turn the heads of our clients’ key decision makers.
Daisy Pack is an Associate Director at Publicasity.