We’re used to terms like coverage results, impressions, reach and key message cut through in the world of public relations, but what does it all actually mean and what’s the best way to measure PR success in 2017 and beyond?
Look at outcomes, not just outputs
Ultimately public relations is not just about reaching an audience but making people think, feel or do something as a result. As a result, we need to think about the outcomes of the work we do, not just the outputs. Outputs simply being an article as a result of a pitch and interview, or the 100 likes on Facebook as result of a great post, or even a byline published online. Outcomes being a customer making a purchase after seeing a positive review, revenue growth or an increase in brand preference, as a few examples.
With an ever changing media landscape adding to the picture, it’s more important than ever to consider all available channels, across owned media, website, social, blogs, video, photograph and sales enablement tools, such as customer decks, whitepapers and messaging. As we look at these new channels, we also need to think about the outcomes of our activity on these channels and how customers engage different via these channels to understand the real business impacts of our work.
Having methods in place to regularly track and monitor sales, business outcomes, event attendance and click through is more important than ever.
This is already happening and most leading award entries from CommsCon to AMEC looking for business impact and tangible outcomes, while media coverage is almost considered a ‘so what?’ metric, if not linked directly to impact. Getting front page in the biggest national newspaper is great, but what’s even better is knowing how many people saw that and decided to buy your product as a result.
Set your client and your brand up for success at the beginning
Before launching any campaign, it’s now more important than ever to know where consumers engage with your brand so you can tailor the launch or activity accordingly, and therefore optimise results. If they are purchasing via your sales team, empower the sales team, if they’re coming through the website, focus online and drive them to the website.
Once you understand where customers are engaging with a brand, you need to find out what success looks like, gain an understanding of the broader customer journey and the business process for selling to customers once they get to your store, website or meet your sales team. From there, you can tailor your approach to ensure your activity is going to have maximum impact, on the right channel and change perceptions and generate action as a result.
As an example, when starting any thought leadership, think about how those same insights are being delivered not just to media, but also how the sales team can use those same insights to start conversations with customers or engage completely new customers. From there, you can measure the impact and role of PR at every stage of the customer journey.
So, how do we effectively measure the success of PR?
Data is key to making this shift and the easiest way to get this data is to integrate with your client to utilise any data that’s already available. This could include anything from NPS data, brand perception tracking, sales data or customer databases. By having this information at the outset, we can ensure our recommendations will have a direct impact on the business outcomes by focusing our efforts on work that relates to business outcomes and results you can measure.
One way to achieve this and start gaining insights immediately is by simply amplifying traditional media results via LinkedIn company pages or owned personal channels where you can actively track engagement, while simultaneously ensuring you’re maximising the impact of your coverage. If you can show that a potential customer or contact positively engaged with an article through LinkedIn, you can start a conversation with the hope of generating new business as a result. By tracking the customer journey from initial conversation and engagement, driven by PR, to new sales and business growth, you can measure and prove the value of PR in the overall customer journey.
This process ensures PR is present from beginning to end and in addition to sharing that front page article, you’re also able to show how that led to a new customer and revenue. This is the value of PR, the success of PR, and the way we all need to start thinking as communicators until the next wave of change comes knocking tomorrow.
Five steps to measure PR success:
- Evaluate outcomes, not just outputs
- Ensure you have the right business data to measure
- Understand how your customers are engaging with the brand and where
- Ensure PR has a place at each stage of the customer journey
- Track, measure, and review