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PR measurement: your roadmap to success

First things first: what does quality PR look like?
Richard Branson (referred to as the “undisputed king” of PR stunts) once said: “A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front-page ad.” He’s right of course. Quality, effective PR is invaluable. But the key word here is ‘story’. PR is all about telling stories that bring a brand’s key messages to life. If your stories are all about your products and services, that’s not storytelling. It’s a brochure. And it’s likely that your audience won’t read further than the introduction.

In telling great stories, content needs to not only amplify your brand’s key messages but to do so by aligning with the business and media landscape influencing your industry. It also needs to appear in the right media and reach the right audiences. These elements help build the vehicle you will use on your journey to PR success. But every journey needs a destination and a roadmap to help you get there. That’s where effective PR measurement can help.

Define your destination
Confucius said: “If one wants to define the future, they must study the past.” It’s important to understand your route to improvement by analysing previous outputs and outcomes; successes and failures. If you don’t measure where you are at the start, how will you know how far you have come?

You then need to be absolutely sure of what you need PR to achieve for your business. Change perceptions? Educate the industry? Drive traffic? Boost engagement? The list goes on and on, which is why it’s crucial to set out clear, agreed objectives from the outset. These will differ case-by-case, but they should always tie in with your brand’s overall business objectives. 
Always ask: what is the overarching business goal that needs to be supported by communications? Only by truly understanding the answer to this can you put in place meaningful KPIs for signposting success. And only by effectively measuring success can you accurately assess the impact of your work.

Use measurement to plot your route
Measurement can be a tool for improvement. It can help you gauge what content is having the biggest impact on your target audiences – thus dictating the tone and substance of future content. This not only helps to refine content, plan ahead and maximise cut through for your brand but also build and maintain relationships with journalists and publications looking for quality, thought-provoking content. 

Measurement can be a tool for improvement. It can help you gauge what content is having the biggest impact on your target audiences – thus dictating the tone and substance of future content.

Dissecting what works and what doesn’t, and the reasons behind it, will help ensure you improve next time and make strategic decisions based on insight.

Prove the worth of PR: valuing the invaluable
Increasing recognition at boardroom level of the strategic value of communications has seen measurement become a must have (and rightly so!). Now more than ever PR success must be demonstrated in both qualitative and quantitative measures which tangibly link back to overall business objectives. This will not only help you to effectively prove the worth of PR to the wider business but help with negotiations for greater support.

It will also confirm that PR is every bit as powerful as the other weapons in your marcomms arsenal and act as a morale booster. Measurement can be rewarding for both your brand and us (the agency). For PR people, seeing our hard work published is one of the most satisfying aspects of the job. But what’s more rewarding is knowing that it’s relevant and worthwhile and truly helping your brand along its journey to success.

Seeing the wood for the trees: start simple, but simply start!
There are many metrics by which to measure PR success: reach, audience, tiered media targets, backlinks to websites, social media engagement… to name just a few. It’s easy to take a wrong turn and get lost, so be sure to always start from the same place: find out what success looks like for your brand and build your measurement plan around that. The metrics chosen should always be relevant and help measure success against pre-agreed business objectives. Always agree KPIs before any campaign; make sure that your measurements link back to overall business objectives; and always use results to inform future PR activity. 


Not sure that you’re getting the most out of your PR? Email Taylor Williams, or call +44 (0)1242 626000

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