We’ve all been there. Newspaper clippings filling files – digital and real – studies showing brand uplift, air time, radio time, a long tail – the agenda set and controlled. But the client still thinks you could have done more… was it really worth it?
A Cision-hosted session at PR360 talked about measurement. Specifically, how PRs can measure success and then prove that success to stakeholders. It’s a struggle for most if not all practitioners, said Cision's Tom Ritchie, VP GTM, leading the session.
"I’ve talked about where the industry is going and where earned media is going," he said, "I’ve talked about how trust in journalism to feature your brand and communicate your messages was on the up."
In a recent survey Cision ran in partnership with PRWeek, 75% of comms professionals said they must do a better job of measuring and pricing impact on business results. But 70% lacked the data they need. And with the recent Facebook and Cambridge Analytica news, he warned that trained media professionals need to be far more aware of the issue of trust: "As media convergence has become a reality, people are starting to understand that however you are pushing it out, a brand message needs to be consistent, make sense and be honest."
With public trust in social media going down, Ritchie said that "we all intrinsically know that earned media is the best way to get messages across" – consumers trust it more than owned and paid media, yet what he calls the ‘media paradox’, brands "bizarrely" spend a lot more money on paid and owned media campaigns because they find it much harder to attribute business value to earned activities.
Measuring the unmeasurable
"We don’t have metrics we can pin our hats on and honestly believe are a true reflection of the hard work we’ve done," said Ritchie. "We haven’t had a technical benchmark to prove what we have been doing and sit alongside those people that are doing paid media."
But, he said, it’s becoming increasingly challenging for paid media to truly defend its position. He referenced P&G as a major brand which last year cut around $140 million in digital ad spending because of brand-safety concerns – a move which had "zero impact" on their revenue.
He revealed how new cloud technology allows PR professionals to measure the output of earned media in a way that reflects a "holistic, converged media reality". To prove the value of their work it needs to be in one place, not in silos.
He explained how Cision’s analysis and insights had helped Slimming World to measure and prove the success of their campaigns, for instance. Citing Slimming World’s amec award-winning ‘Dream Weight’ campaign, Ritchie revealed that a key aspect of measuring the success of the campaign was a thorough understanding of the objectives. By understanding these they worked together to produce a research and measurement strategy that focused on social media monitoring, website analytics and survey analysis.
The campaign increased its audience reach by 25%. Media coverage for Slimming World increased significantly during the campaign period and the brand saw 365 per cent more earned media coverage in the six weeks following the campaign.
Ritchie’s solution is an earned media PR platform that takes into account the converging media landscape by bringing comms in line with how people naturally consume digital content, and moving away from siloed data.
Ritchie said: "It becomes easier to see the connective tissue of your activity and prove the worth that you have, helping you communicate to the decision makers and the c-suite in a way that makes more sense to them. Data cannot sit in separate silos – it must be in one place."