Public relations professionals are steadily moving away from relying on things like impressions and thick clip books as ways to measure PR’s effectiveness. One of the best things you can do for your PR efforts within your organization is to set up a media measurement program.
So how do you get started?
1) Sit down with other members of your company to discuss what the expectations are for PR efforts. Take some time after that to map out and make sure that PR efforts are tied to stated business objectives. For example, if a primary business objective is to sell 15 percent more widgets this year than the company did last year, and a secondary business objective is to enhance the organization’s image in corporate social responsibility, PR efforts should be measured back to those goals.
2) Figure out how you are going to approach your data to get to the information you need. General mentions in a mountain of clips won’t show how PR efforts fed the sales funnel. Setting up Google Analytics to track different efforts can. When considering the CSR enhancement goal, you’ll likely be looking for specific keyword mentions in articles, and you’ll need to be able to rate that content in order to track improvement over time.
3) Make a list of any publications or sources that are a “must have” to monitor. This is particularly important if you are in a specialized field, since general media mentions in mainstream publications will probably be neither as frequent nor as important as a mention in a trade publication, for instance.
4) Conduct a baseline analysis of where you are right now with respect to the business goals covered in item 1 above. You should also do a baseline of your top competitors in the industry or field for comparison. A baseline analysis will also help to give some shape and ideas to the next step—choosing the right measurement tool or tools to help you accomplish your goals.
5) Next, keeping in mind your data approach, what the business objectives are, and what you learned during your baseline analysis, take a look at what measurement tools are available. Flashy dashboards and pretty charts are fine, but take time to learn about the data behind them. Investing in a measurement dashboard because it has a lot of visuals is one of those things that can lead to “it seemed like a good idea at the time” statements if you aren’t able to access the data behind the charts or use the data to generate reports that are better suited to your business than the pre-loaded ones that came with the software. This is important to your overall measurement success.
6) Set a measurement schedule for reporting. Are you interested in daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly reports? Or will a less-frequent analysis schedule suffice? Your most valuable insights will be gained over time so make sure you’re examining your data regularly.
Once you’ve followed these steps, you’re ready to put your measurement program into action. The planning stages take a lot of time but are incredibly important to a measurement program’s success.