“At Amnesty International UK, we have this tiny mission, which is basically to change the world,” explained Niall Couper, head of PR at Amnesty International UK. “We have a great PR team. But we need to prove we’re actually worth it. It’s about making sure we’re making a difference. Have we turned a dial? Have we made people care about human rights?”
Couper was speaking at the PRWeek Measurement Conference, an online and in-person event dedicated to the discussion of PR metrics and their effectiveness. Co-presenting with him was Megan Barron, insights director at Cision. Together, the pair explained, the charity and Cision’s Insights team developed a unique set of metrics that help them rise above the everyday chatter that fills much of our lives, to make a real impact.
Balancing metrics with the mission
At the start of the process, the Amnesty International UK team was tracking metrics such as the pull of its key messages, the uptake of press releases, the organisation’s reach — and so on. But the team wasn't able to present them to non-PR stakeholders, in a way that truly demonstrated value. The aim of Cision was to develop a new, meaningful PR metric designed around Amnesty International UK’s unique mission.
“Cision helped us look at what we were reporting and what we wanted to achieve,” said Couper. Together, the two organisations looked at the quality of the metrics, what each metric told its users about the effectiveness of Amnesty International UK’s PR, and what it helped the charity achieve.
For each human rights issue raised by Amnesty International UK, Cision looked at things such as how many press releases were published, how many quotes the charity provided and what volume of articles were generated. By combining metrics in a single dashboard on an issue-by-issue basis, Amnesty International UK began to get a more rounded picture of its activity and its impact. This has enabled an integrated analysis of media intelligence, as a means to target and optimise future PR strategies.
“It’s not just looking at volume,” said Cision’s Megan Barron. “We use a combination of metrics such as reach, message prominence and things like that. Then we put them together in an impact score. This means that, in one example, the subject of Afghanistan got just 45 articles [fewer than the other issues listed in the report] but it had the highest total impact score. This shows that the quality and reach of the coverage was greater than that of other issues.”
Predicting future success
“Unfortunately for us,” said Couper, “there are human rights abuses everywhere.” With a finite budget and resources, the charity needs an intelligent way to target its campaigns so that they make the biggest possible impact. “When you have a rounded opinion, you can ask if you’re putting the right amount of work in, and if it is worthwhile. That’s what the metrics that Cision developed allowed us to do: to know in advance not just what would work, but also what wouldn’t, so we could best use our limited resources.”
“Measurement should be bespoke to every client,” said Barron. “Impact scores only work when everyone is on board with them. You can then use them to communicate to the wider organisation. It’s a tidy way of looking at an issue quite quickly.”
The two colleagues ended by talking about “sportswashing” – a concept created by Amnesty International UK to describe the phenomenon of regimes which abuse human rights using the sponsorship of sports to launder their reputations. “Sportswashing is our number-one-performing issue,” said Couper. By creating a new category and targeting a demographic, sports fans, who were not previously seen as natural Amnesty International UK supporters, the PR team was able to demonstrate the success of well-targeted campaigns that reached out beyond the traditional Amnesty International UK audience. “This made it possible for us to justify using sports-related communications to effectively highlight human rights abuses across the world.”