Most people think that evaluation is something that happens at the completion of a campaign. In fact, evaluation or measurement should happen at various intervals throughout a campaign and should be discussed before the campaign ever begins.
Every proposal for PR services should include a measurement section that details how success will be defined. Here's why it's so important:
- Discussing measurement before a campaign ensures you and the client are on the same page when it comes to determining success. If the specific measurement methods are not discussed at the outset, then it may become very difficult, or even impossible, to determine whether the campaign was actually effective.
- Covering evaluation methods early in the process allows you to discover what benchmarks you have to work with. Measurement is an inherently comparative tool. To effectively measure the relative success or failure of a campaign, you need to compare it to something else. Through early discussions, you may discover that your potential clients have access to information they haven't yet shared.
- Mapping out measurement methods in the proposal helps ensure that the PR campaign ties into the company's business objectives.
- Establishing measurement goals allows you to quickly discover what the client is willing to pay for a success. If you are executing your campaign under the assumption that the client will foot a survey to assess consumer sentiment, but they are unwilling to do so, you might find yourself in a pickle as to how to determine success. Discuss it up front and execute the campaign accordingly.
- Including measurement in the proposal helps manage expectations. Detailing evaluation methods gives your clients a much better understanding of what a PR campaign can and can't do. From the start they will see that while you may not be able to draw a straight line between a campaign element and increased sales, you can draw one between an element and a boost in website traffic to a product page.
Writing measurement methods into a proposal creates a stronger campaign from the outset by giving you a roadmap to assess success, and insights to adjust accordingly. PR measurement improves communication between agency and client, creates shared expectations, and ultimately shapes a campaign to produce better results.
Jessica Sharp is co-founder and principal of Maven Communications.