Measuring public relations is a highly debated topic amongst public relations professionals. Debates on which measurement frameworks are the most appropriate are driven by the fact that PR is widening in scope and the tools that impact it have changed. Regardless of the various measuring techniques the continued conversation on PR metrics highlights its importance to the practice, especially in a climate where more businesses are beginning to undertake their own PR campaigns without the help of communications professionals. Here are the reasons why PR metrics are so important.
1. Real Results
The public relations industry has long been difficult to define from the perspective of non-PRs. If you were to ask a non-comms professional what PR is, many would be stumped to give you a definition or alternatively they would mistake PR for other industries such as marketing and advertising. By having a framework for PR, agencies are better able to offer real time results and not merely rely on outputs. Traditionally PR measurement has involved the tracking of outputs and now more must be done to track outcomes to further promote the need of PR for all businesses. Focusing on real results allows more people to understand what PR is and make provision for its inclusion in their business plans.
Keeping track of real results is key. When campaigns are monitored it is easier to pick up on trends and offer solutions to future clients who may have similar campaign objectives to your existing clients. Simply understanding whether certain pitches are better received during specific times or in specific countries can be used as data to inform future proposals. Better estimates can be made for example where PR efforts will require spend such as social media. Instead of merely celebrating high coverage press it is more important to understand the circumstances which facilitated securing it and how to replicate these successes in the future.
Clients want to be kept informed, again often clients are not sure what the value of PR actually is. By sharing metrics with your clients and other shareholders there is a more unified understanding, it allows your clients to become advocates for the industry as a whole. It is not simply enough for your client to know the campaign is working, they need to know why and how.
4. Improvement of Performance
Measuring PR efforts allows teams to improve upon their performance by comparing changes over time. This also allows agencies to better manage client expectations as KPI’s and other parameters will be better informed by the impact of previous performance.
Measuring PR efforts across departments is superior to simply measuring efforts in isolated departments. PRs now operate in a landscape where a newspaper article may drive audiences to the client’s website and then convert again to a visit to a social media platform. Through PR measurement we are able to
better ascertain how to combine different tools and channels to expand the reach of a brands message and communicate this message to core audiences.