PR measurement is a subject regular visitors to our comms agency blog will already be familiar with. It’s what makes everyone here at Smoking Gun tick. That is providing we’re approaching PR measurement in a way that ticks the right boxes.
The problem is there are two very different ways of looking at how to measure PR effectively. On the one hand, you can try and analyse the stats, facts and numbers readily available. Or flip the scrip and focus on the actual business outcomes of your PR efforts.
Needless to say, we would always advocate the latter. Simply looking at metrics that position a campaign as successful to lay folk isn’t enough. Views, shares and clicks pale into insignificance compared with conversions. Sadly, though, by nature these are much harder to figure out.
According to a study by Viant of 50 marketing CFOs in the US, the biggest concerns in terms of PR measurement can be broken down as follows:
*36% – measurement focussed on ‘vanity metrics’
*22% – success does not relate to concrete outcomes
*16% – ‘vanity metrics’ do not show full picture of success and failure
What we haven’t mentioned (yet)
It wouldn’t be the first time we answered the question ‘what is PR measurement?’ with ‘not vanity metrics’. So, to confirm, we implore everyone to look beyond the immediate results, and compare their PR investment with KPIs and other business objectives. This way you’ll be able to tell if the investment in a campaign is actually having the desired (or indeed any) impact.
Avoiding ‘vanity metrics’ is important for more reasons than simply proving real success though…
38% of Viant respondents saw digital marketing as a cost centre, not a profit centre
Viewing digital marketing as a cost rather than profit-making practice threatens the future of digital marketing within any organisation. That’s because when people cannot see the profit margin they are much less likely to continue with the financial outlay.
In short, looking at digital marketing as a cost with no real ability to make money back invalidates the initial investment. Next digital marketing is reined in or cancelled completely, so the initial exercise was nothing more than a waste of time and money.
It’s an age-old issue that has faced marketing and PR since year dot. These practices cannot necessarily offer immediate ROI. However, these practices can offer substantial ROI over a longer period of time. Moreover, often that return is greater than if a company hadn’t invested anything in marketing and PR services.
Agencies (or departments) need to step up
What we can take from all this is that agencies, or departments if you’re PR and marketing are kept in-house, need to step up when proving their worth. Anything less than clear, transparent evidence to show tangible real business impact is unacceptable.
If you don’t think your PR measurement is meeting this requirement it might be time to consider alternative providers…