What does success look like? (For PR campaigns)

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What does success look like for PR campaigns? In public relations circles measuring success is as much a discussion point as the weather. The industry has attempted to deal with it. In this approach they generally have a goal to reach a singular solution. Rather like ‘how to write a press release’.

But in reality all measurement revolves around one question. What does success look like? It could also framed as:

  • What is the job required?
  • What is the problem to solve?

Measuring success then breaks down into four categories:

    • Outputs (how much activity has happened)
      • Amount of content
      • Paid, earned and shared distribution / reach including serendipitous engagement
      • Events / stunts
    • Outcomes
      • Views / opportunities to see / audience
      • Attendance
      • Followers
      • Propagation (shares, mentions, backlinks etc). One could also consider mentions or shares serendipitous engagement alongside comments or retweets
      • Competitor or category benchmarking (share of voice)
    • Trend-focused outcomes, where the rate of change is as important as absolute values
      • Sentiment – though measuring sentiment is time for an article in itself
      • Pre-and-post or regular stakeholder research (brand perception, talkability, recall, message penetration)
      • Referral traffic (normalised for seasonality and ongoing activity)
      • Awards, reviews or recommendations
      • Stakeholder behavourial changes
      • Platform behaviour change (basket size, conversion rates, downloads, sign-ups)
    • Organisational success measures
      • Sales increase
      • Reduction in time to sale
      • Behavioural change (particular for non-commercial organisations)
      • Reputation improvement (share price increase, stakeholder net promoter score improvement, increased influence)
      • Talent acqusition (increased applications per job, increased proactive applications, reduced staff churn)
      • Financial security (funding round, share placement, share price, bond placement)

The problem of measurement from a PR perspective breaks down into a number of parts:

  • The activity didn’t have a clear link to organisational success
  • The basket of measures wasn’t considered in-depth at the beginning
  • The goals change over time, or are post rationalised
  • The resources aren’t dedicated on measurement that need to be done
  • Some measures derived can’t be separated from other work done except through the use of econometrics
  • The measures used lend themselves to long term campaigns, yet are measured on a short term basis
  • The span of responsibility that the activity has to deliver isn’t matched by access to the internal data required to measure success

More PR related content here. More from AMEC; PR’s measurement trade body here.