Brands rely on their PR teams to get across the right messages, and ensure that consumers are engaging with them. However, while devising a great campaign is a challenge, all the hard work will equate to nothing without garnering an idea of its impact.
That's where PR measurement comes in.
Of course, there's good and bad to the practice. Some companies get it right by accident, many are more wise and ensure that they have the right tools in place to help. Here are a few of the do's and don'ts:
Do measure engagement
In any facet of business, utilising the most tangible will typically breed success. The same applies to PR measurement.
Research collated by the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) suggested that true measurement of any campaign should look beyond the basics of media impressions and article counts and go further to encompass visuals, accuracy and tone.
Moreover, in the online space in particular, measuring outcomes as to whether consumers are reading content and then actually taking action is a much better indicator of engagement.
Good PR measurement will focus on the calibre of the conversation.
Focus on quality, not necessarily quantity
In today's media landscape, there are tens of thousands of news sources, blogs and information sites that discuss brands and their offerings. However, rather than aiming to measure all of them, quality can be much more important.
PR and Marketing agency Ketchum published a white paper on PR measurement best practices, and one of the company's main findings was centred on the quality of media coverage.
Ultimately, there's little value in being talked about by non-influential or irrelevant parties. Consequently, true impact - and good PR measurement - will focus on the calibre of the conversation.
Don't chase ROI, go after influence
Naturally, any kind of injection of capital from a business needs to show return on investment (ROI). However, when it comes to PR measurement, organisations are looking for as much information as possible against the initial outlay, rather than focussing on securing quality insights.
"Too many companies are focused only on the dollar's ROI. While PR 'hits' are never guaranteed, when they do happen, they spur brand affinity. That results in an ROI that's outside just the traditional dollar for dollar measurement," explained GG Benitez, CEO of GG Benitez and Associates Public Relations, in an interview with Forbes.
There's a balance to be struck, as no investment should be fruitless. However, the focus should be on discovering new information about how the company is being understood, rather than using half-baked statistics that are only perceived as adding monetary value.
Is the concept of big data blinding companies to what information is most valuable?
Avoid getting bogged down in data
The rise of big data has left companies scrambling to keep up with all of the information they are presented with on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. Consequently, it's all too easy to lose focus on exactly what's valuable.
As research published by PR Week points out, big data has given brands previously unimaginable capabilities of what they can measure, but there's little guidance on what actually makes sense.
The answer? Find and implement the right tools. Rather than collating a plethora of information from a swathe of sources, the best PR measurement and media intelligence practices hinge on both insights and analysis.
Finding the right metrics that really matter is the first step. Next, relating them back to the objectives of the original campaign - or even those of the wider business - is where the real value lies.
Ultimately, there's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to PR measurement. However, thinking progressively and leveraging the right tools is certainly a huge step in the right direction.