Among the many important issues in the PR industry, measurement is one that continues to elicit strong interest and opinions. PR pros are under more pressure than ever to prove ROI and the value of their efforts, so it's understandable that measurement has become even more top of mind over the past year.
Certainly there has been much progress in the way that PR can be measured; there now exists the real ability to tie PR activity to sales figures and other business outcomes that can be presented in a meaningful way to the C-suite. While such development is an important step in elevating the stature of PR, it is also important to remember that for some clients it is simply not possible, or even relevant, to measure PR in this way. For such companies, a concentration on measurement basics can provide valuable information and insight – and ultimately improve performance and productivity.
In fact, the excitement surrounding sophisticated marketing mix models has perhaps eclipsed the continued relevance of many other tried-and-true measurement tactics. For some companies, media measurement remains the most valuable way to not only analyze past campaigns, but to also guide future initiatives and messaging. The volume of coverage should not be the foremost concern, as impression numbers are often inflated, and for many companies reaching a small, engaged audience in a social media outlet is far more important. Yet, analyzing total media coverage and the penetration of key messages remains a vital way to measure PR's effectiveness.
One topic that came up during PRWeek's recent measurement roundtable with BurrellesLuce was that very often PR campaigns yield anecdotal results: An article featured on the front page of The Wall Street Journal can spark interest from a possible business partner or change the dynamics of a scheduled meeting with a prospective client. It would serve PR teams well to seek out such anecdotes and weave them into measurement reports, as they can also hold significant meaning for the C-suite.
One of the most common barriers to measurement is the cost. But for the companies that can make even a minimal investment in basic measurement tactics, the rewards can be many.