Making measurement work

By Susan Richter, Marketing Communications Manager

One of the most contentious topics in PR is measurement. What to measure, how to measure, and most importantly, do you need to measure.

The answer to the last question is: absolutely. Whether it’s to report back on the success of a PR programme, adapt and improve future efforts, secure funding for the next campaign, or to justify the importance of PR to the senior management team or board, measurement is vital.

We’ve come a long way from AVE (advertising equivalent value) and while measurement in PR is fluid, controversial and challenging at times, it can be done. But how?

This was the focus of our most recent Team Talk Session, attended by a selection of our clients who shared their own experiences and insights.

PR measurement is possible

We believe there are three key ingredients needed for successful measurement:

  1. Support from your client in gaining access to the right tools and data
  2. Clear objectives on what you’re measuring
  3. Including measurement throughout the campaign lifecycle

But what does that look like in practice?

When working with our clients we focus on audience-centric measurement; that’s looking at audience visibility (how the campaign reached the right audience, with the right message via the right channel), engagement (response and reaction of those audiences), and impact (the effect of the campaign and how it contributes to the business’ overall goals).

Different approaches

For some clients in the session, they use measurement to both track awareness of their brand and demonstrate to management and investors that PR has a role to play in lead generation. This includes looking at web traffic, referral traffic, SEO, conversion ratios and the quality of leads that PR has a hand in influencing.

For other clients, it’s more about looking at the volume of coverage and share of voice generated from thought leadership campaigns. While it is possible to determine the link between leads generated from a specific piece of content, it can be expensive and places additional strain on budgets.

Blurring lines

This began a discussion around the merging of PR and marketing, and the rise of integrated campaigns. It is becoming increasingly difficult to pick out the PR or earned element from a campaign. Looking at a research project, for example, that starts off as a PR campaign with the creation of an idea, report and press release and ends with marketing developing MQLs off the back of that idea. While the assets have been provided by PR, it is marketing that gets the credit for lead generation even though it is the earned element that provided the platform. This is why it’s so vital that PR and marketing work closely together and complement (instead of competing with) each other.

The data challenge (and opportunity)

One of the challenges highlighted in the discussion was data. With the use of different platforms (HubSpot, Google Analytics, etc) there’s often a disconnect between them resulting in varying metrics, with varying interpretations. And that’s not to mention metrics from other areas of the business, such as sales, that also needs to be taken into account.

One significant opportunity that measurement data represents, however, especially for social media, is that there is a lot you can tap in to in terms of channel performance, content performance, campaign data and so on. Importantly, the discussions highlighted that measurement should just be about more than the numbers; for example, looking at who is engaging with what content, and what the quality is of your followers versus just the amount.

Regardless of whether it’s social media, PR or an integrated campaign, the key takeaway was that you need to understand which metrics to report on and consistently bring them back to your overall business objectives to ensure you’re seeing the bigger picture. This sentiment also means getting buy-in from senior management or the board to ensure the proper alignment with those business goals.

To find out more about the Whiteoaks approach to measurement, read our COO Hayley Goff’s blog.

In our next Team Talk session on 29 May we’ll be talking about our latest research into the Secrets of Tech Growth. Keep an eye on your inbox and our social feeds to find out more.