Whether it’s traditional media (TV, radio, newspapers), digital media (websites, blogs) and social media coverage that mentions, features or tags your brand, the big question we hear most in the PR world is – how do I know it’s working?

In this series, we look at how to value PR, how to know what’s really going to work, and what to look for to see if it’s working. Part One covers how we currently value PR, and how to know if a piece of PR is really going to work for your brand.

 

HOW DO WE CURRENTLY VALUE PR? 

So many old-school techniques – like measuring up column inches (we actually used to get a ruler out!), to finding out how much the article would cost if you were advertising (Advertising Value Equivalent or AVE) – just won’t tell you the whole story:

  • What if an article is negative? Is a $5,000 page in a magazine then worth -$5,000? Obviously not – the impact on your business could be far more devastating.
  • What if the article is not just about you, but also 4 of your competitors? Would the value be one-quarter of a page? Probably not, especially if you come out looking better (or worse)
  • What about social media? There’s no agreed way to value social media posts?

So whilst many agencies and PRs are still using the AVE or similar methods, it’s also widely agreed that it’s not actually reflecting the true value of PR.

 

SO, HOW CAN WE MEASURE IF PR IS EFFECTIVE? 

A group of PRs from around the globe met to discuss exactly this question. Essentially these global PR experts all agreed on one thing when it comes to measuring PR – you don’t HAVE to AVE.*

It’s tempting if we want to measure the return on investment – we spent $$ on PR, so what did we get back for it? But for the reasons we outlined above, you’re only getting part of the picture. Here’s the new way forward.

 

GET CLEAR, REALLY CLEAR. 

Before you start, you need to get specific about what you want your PR to do and set concrete goals you can benchmark your success against.

Seriously, write the answers down to these 3 questions:

1. WHO are you trying to reach, with WHAT messages?
Who exactly are your customers? What should they see, hear, read, know about the brand that they don’t know already?

2. WHAT do you want them to UNDERSTAND?
What do they know and believe now? What should they believe and feel?

3. WHAT do you want them to DO as a result of your communications? 
This is key and missing from a lot of strategies. Get specific with the results you want in your business – HOW MUCH of WHAT and BY WHEN?

 

These are the goalposts for your PR. Every single result in your PR can now be measured against how effectively they contribute to these goals.

Stay tuned for Part Two of how to measure PR, where we look at how you can evaluate coverage as it appears to see what impact it might have for your PR.

 

* Footnote: They agreed on a set of principles called the Barcelona Principles (Ketchum Global Research and Analytics “The Principles of PR Measurement”).

 

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Words by Adriana Glass – Founder of Talk Division, a consultancy specialising in strategic PR, media and communications for lifestyle, fashion and wellbeing brands. 

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Banner image: Lucia Giacani for Vogue Italia