Ins and Outs of PR Measurement

By Matter

PR Measurement and results are an important part of any PR program, and it’s something that’s in our DNA here at Matter Communications. Unlike PR’s closest relatives marketing and advertising where metrics are clearly defined and ROI is something that can be calculated, PR measurement has always been somewhat of a softer science.

We recently had the pleasure of attending a seminar on the very topic of PR measurement, hosted by the Publicity Club of New England and PRSA Boston at the Bullhorn offices in Fort Point (which, side note, will be the future temporary home of General Electric when it relocates its headquarters to Boston). The seminar featured a Q&A with PR measurement pioneer and guru Katie Delahaye Paine, interviewed by Christine Perkett, CEO of PR analytics platform SeeDepth. Having worked with a number of large corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies, they provided the following advice for PR pros when it comes to measurement:

  1. What are you trying to achieve?

The key to successful measurement begins with each team having a clear understanding of what our objectives are for measurement and what defines success. For us PR pros on the agency side, that means working closely with our client contacts and key internal stakeholders to define what we’re looking to achieve through PR. This is easier said than done, with Katie emphasizing the need to get all these decision-makers in a room together to come up with a clear definition of what the company is looking to achieve.

  1. Impression numbers aren’t the be all end all of measurement

Impression numbers are one tool, but they certainly don’t tell the whole story. Katie pointed out that reach does not always guarantee awareness, you might not be reaching the audience your company actually cares about, and reach doesn’t tell you anything about if you’ve successfully educated that audience. As Katie put it, you can run down the street naked with messaging to get impressions, but there’s no ROI.

In terms of media coverage, quality needs to be prioritized over quantity, with quality coverage being in a target publication that reaches your key audience and delivers positive messaging that map back to the goals set in step #1. There are many ways to measure beyond impressions, including share of voice and message pull through, just to name a few, and these are more meaningful metrics than just reach alone.

  1. There’s no magic tool that does this for you

While there are many wonderful PR measurement tools out there, there’s not a single one that completely automates the process for you. PR measurement still requires a human touch as it’s still an inexact science that varies greatly from company to company.

Measurement is an extremely important, yet constantly evolving, part of the PR industry, and it is up to us as PR pros to determine the best ways to successfully show its worth.