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How to measure the success of your PR campaigns...

...and why “make me famous” is never a good starting place for working with a PR agency. From Cherish PR, part of The Wilful Group.


I have lost count of the number of times I have heard “make us famous” when I have asked potential clients for objectives for PR. Fame, aka brand awareness, in isolation isn't a good goal for PR. Without measurable KPIs or expensive awareness tracking, brand awareness is really hard to monitor and far too subjective. How do we know that more people are aware of your business? How can we track that they’re talking about you? And does being part of a conversation make any difference to your business?

Begin at the end

That’s why I always start by asking why any business, brand or founder would want to be famous? What are the business goals that are really driving the need for PR? The answer is usually audience, funding or sales driven. Perhaps it’s reaching a new audience? Heading into a funding round? Or building traffic and eventually a sales pipeline? That’s it. We’ve finally hit on a clear goal and the measurement can begin.

Next steps begin with some visualisation. If you picture yourself sitting with your PR team at the end of the project or year, what will you really want to know? That the PR drove X traffic, Y enquiries or open doors to new partners and investors? Be honest with your team so that they can apply or adjust their communications strategy accordingly. They will be able to tailor media targets, content, apply links or keywords, look at impressions or engagement, even down to tactical placements or the length of articles that are required.

Find the right tools to measure your PR

There are thousands of media outlets and millions of social media conversations going on each day making it very hard to track and find where your business or sector is being discussed. To monitor PR hits, you need a media monitoring tool. There are a lot of different tools and services available in the market. Most of them track what has been talked about your brand and where it has been mentioned. If share of voice is important, you may decide to monitor some of your competitors too, or you may want to track conversations across the online world or be able to insert your brand or spot and plan for a potential crisis. No campaign should begin without these tools in place.

Here are a few PR metrics to track

1. Number of media mentions and reach

This is probably the most simple way to measure your PR campaigns but it's not particularly scientific. You will understand how many people you may have reached and how far and wide your story was mentioned.

2. Messaging and sentiment

Relevant if you are trying to build recall and understanding, tracking how many of your key messages were mentioned is important in driving better recall and understanding of your business.

3. Impact

You may be in the FT but are you squirrelled away at the back of the site? Is the article about your business or are you side by side with competitors? Is there an image or logo? How about a link? Is it a go-follow? Some or possible all of these impact metrics can be used as KPIs against as specific objective

4. Engagement and stance

Relatively straightforward with social media but much harder using digital publicity, is how the audience (your potential customer) has engaged with the campaign. Are they talking about you and is it favourable? This is hard and that’s why we use a few amazing tools to track how our campaigns and clients are being discussed online and whether the stance is positive, negative or neutral.

5. Value

In the old days, agencies used to refer to Advertising Value Equivalent as a measurement of PR. However, AVE has had its day and instead has been replaced by CPI (cost per impression). - the total reach of your campaign, to calculate how much it cost to reach an individual. For brand awareness, it’s a good benchmark and worthwhile to keep the financial folks happy.

Optimise the PR campaign

OK so you have your objectives, KPIs and measurement in place but it’s no good waiting until the end of the project or year to look at them. Good PR campaigns are organic, they grow, evolve, pivot and head off in new directions and some gentle steering is required.

By reviewing the KPIs and identifying what tactics are performing against KPIs, you are able to steer the campaign to do more of what’s good and less of what isn’t. Equally, if you have found your business has changed, the KPIs may need to be re-adjusted to measure for a new objective. If engagement and sentiment tracking or indeed your own website traffic or customer behaviour is showing an improvement in your position, you may want to upweight spend and resources to drive a further uplift, moving you closer to your goal.

None of this optimisation is possible without an “always-on” approach to measurement rather than simply at the end of the campaign.

Measuring for success is fundamental to PR campaigns built and executed by Cherish PR. It’s why we are able to work with clients throughout their growth journey. If you want to learn more about creating successful PR campaigns and how to measure them, get in touch.



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