Last week, I had the privilege of attending the panel event, “PR Measurement in Practice”, at the Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge on behalf of The PR Office. As a budding and bright-eyed PR consultant, I was eager to learn more about how to create world-class communications campaigns with the latest measurement techniques.
Hosted by Cision and in association with AMEC, the conference brought together a number of top PR practitioners, from whom the audience acquired some invaluable insight into the importance of PR measurement. Amongst the speakers were: Nadin Vernon, PRIME’s strategy consultant and AMEC’s vice-chair European chapter, Paul Hender, head of insight at Cision, Jenny Caven, head of external affairs at Slimming World, Laura Bates, communications manager at the Museum of London, Martin Nicholls, head of strategic communication at the Office for National Statistics and Vanessa Wilson, director of communications at UK Sport.
The growing consensus that ensued from each speaker’s presentations appeared to be the following: PR measurement is just as revolutionary as the printing press.
I wanted to share some of the key points that I took away from this revelatory event:
1 – The profound challenge that we, as PR practitioners, run into when attempting to measure the effectiveness and results of our campaigns is that there is certainly ‘no one size fits all’ metric to which we can turn. Ultimately, it all comes down to outlining our goals; these, in turn, should dictate the way in which we should measure our PR campaigns. In other words, PRs must develop ‘accessible’ KPIs in order to fully understand the quality, pertinence and effect of the media coverage that they obtain.
2 – It is important that PR measurement shifts from simply measuring outputs to outcomes. Outputs, the instantaneous results of a particular PR program or activity, represent what is already observable. Outcomes, on the other hand, seek to measure whether the outputs garnered any meaningful coverage – coverage to which the target audience truly paid attention, understood and absorbed in an impactful way.
3 – “Measurement helps to prove the value of PR”. The ability to show and explain results to a client is an important way in which PRs can unequivocally confirm the huge benefits that comms activity brings to their business. In essence, the role of PR is to communicate the right message to the right target audience in order to achieve an organisational objective.
4 – For PR practitioners, the time and effort used to define specific goals and measure the results that we achieve help us to gain a better understanding of what works and how to produce an even more effective campaign in the future.
In closing, insights and data are ever more important to meticulously plan and implement exceptional media relations. The increasing acknowledgement of the strategic value of communications has rendered measurement more important than ever before. It is undeniable that PR has a magnificently positive impact for small, medium and large businesses.
We, as PR consultants, already know the plethora of benefits that PR and comms plans produce; we simply have to use the right metrics to prove it.
Drew Salisbury is an account executive at The PR Office.