A successful PR and communications strategy is instrumental to your business’s long term sustainability. But ‘PR and communications’ incorporate such a broad range of activities – from earning editorial coverage and managing social media campaigns through to crisis management – it can be difficult to know how best to measure their success.
1. Use the right metric for the objective
The traditional understanding of PR is to improve audience awareness of what you do, build trust and understanding around your offering and persuade potential customers to buy. Naturally, therefore, leadership teams like to see a direct relationship between a company’s financials and its PR activity especially when it has involved significant financial outlay.
Provide clarity and motivation by defining your objective in line with your broader business goals e.g. to increase sales of a particular product or to support a recruitment drive. In 2018 EasyJet set a target for 20% of new pilots joining the airline to be women by 2020, launching a female empowerment PR campaign including a video that recreated a scene from the film ‘Catch Me If You Can’ .¹
However, the temptation to focus on PR return on investment (ROI) can be misguided because revenue is only ever part of the story; not every aspect of communication can be measured financially and it can be difficult to see how what you’re doing is impacting prospects moving through the sales funnel.
ROI can also have the consequence of focussing on short terms gains over long term strategies. Dig a little deeper and what most businesses are actually interested in is relating their PR activity to a tangible, quantifiable outcome.
2. Compare like for like
It’s important to ensure you’re measuring against the right baseline, for instance should you be comparing the third quarter with the second or with the same period for the previous year? Are there any additional factors to take into account that could be affecting the results – either positively or negatively? By measuring the factors outside your control (like changes in the price of raw materials or the impact of a new entrant to the market) you’ll also be informing and helping to shape a more robust business strategy.
3. Price tag PR – priceless
In addition to the main metric you’re measuring against; there will be additional benefits or rewards which should be recognised and shouted about!
Example 1: your business will be more agile, adaptable and forward-thinking
Building trust with your audience, for example by highlighting your environmental or ethical credentials, will undoubtedly give your business the competitive edge, even if it isn’t precisely measurable in the short term. The recent “How and Why Sustainability is Gaining Momentum with Customers” report from Nielsen concludes, “No matter what, sustainability is no longer a niche play: your bottom-line and brand growth depend on it.“²
Example 2: you’ll keep in tune with your audience
If the tone of customer comments on social media are more negative than you anticipated or desired you can still benefit from the invaluable insight they provide. KFC used feedback about their fries to feed directly into a funny and thoughtful campaign launching their replacement. ³ [There’s a great image we could use here for the white paper at https://www.prexamples.com/2018/12/top-10-pr-campaigns-and-marketing-stunts-november-2018/]
Example 3: you’ll be prepared to weather any storms that come your way
If a situation arises that has potential to seriously damage a business’s reputation (whether that’s a product recall, staff redundancies, management scandal or fire at a premises), PR crisis management is worth its weight in gold. Of course it doesn’t (usually) lead to an increase in revenue but it is extremely powerful in mitigating long term financial and reputational damage.
With information spreading like lightening via social media, this value of PR crisis management is higher than ever [Link through to/ refer to future crisis management article]
Part art, part science, PR and communications has the potential to reach the broadest possible in audience in the most positive and cost effective way. Tell one of our experienced PR managers where you want to take your business and we’ll make sure you get there.
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