Earlier this week, the PRSA announced that it would be releasing a “set of recommended metrics and approaches for evaluating public relations’ influence on key business outcomes.” For many in the PR community, this is the often-dreaded “M” word: measurement.
Clients, especially those in the technology industry, like to see hard numbers – and in this economy (or any economy, for that matter), rightfully so. They know how well their salespeople are performing based on numbers, so why not also evaluate how well their PR agency is performing based on metrics?
One of our goals at Articulate is to tie all PR activities back to the business goals of our clients. We do this by creating awareness. The obvious question is: how can you accurately measure awareness?
I am not a proponent of measuring PR performance based on publication circulation rates. I know this is a popular method, but in reality I don’t believe it is accurate. For example, I read this week’s New York, but skipped some articles, so should I be measured as one of the 427,770 readers of the publication? I’m sure I was by more than one company who received coverage in this week’s issue.
We in PR have to prove our worth and success in creative ways. Are journalists coming to us proactively, saying that our client would be a great fit for their story? Are our clients getting included in more analyst reports than they did before we started working with them? Does Web-site traffic soar on days when press releases are put on the wire? If so, we’ve started creating awareness. Did your new customer mention that he/she read about your company in a particular publication? Did a sales person say how great it was to leverage a recent editorial mention with a new business lead? Do you hear rumors that the CEO of your biggest competitor is “losing it” over the amount of coverage you’re receiving? Now we are closer to our goal.
I applaud the PRSA for taking on the task of creating these recommended metrics, and I’m excited to see what develops in the coming months. If you’re interested in learning more or participating in the process, the PRSA is welcoming industry comments via its comPRehension blog. We’d also like to hear your thoughts on this measurement debate, and welcome you to send through your opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org
By Ashleigh Egan