Measurement is a hot topic in the public relations industry. Often, it can be hard to see if a message has been truly disseminated, absorbed or actioned.
However, there are steps you can take to vastly improve your measurement process and ultimately improve communications activity. Organisations such as Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC), Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) all have different methodologies, guides and ideas for measurement. Here is our selection of the top pieces of advice to consider:
- Ensure you have a measurement process that suits what you do.
Every client is different. Every agency is different. So, everyone’s measurement process is going to differ slightly too and you need to find a process that suits your communications activities, clients and outcomes. A great place to start is the AMEC framework, which will ensure that you have a consistent approach to measurement allowing you to plan and measure in an appropriate manner.
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- The quantity of communication cannot make up for the quality of it.
In setting communications objectives, you need to determine what success looks like to you. Consider your target audience, key messages and target outlets and ensure that all activity is focussed on this, rather than taking a scattergun approach and sending your media release to every contact on your list.
Consider this in your evaluation process too and look at where you added value or made an impact, rather than necessarily how much work you did.
- Communications objectives must be rigorously aligned with business objectives.
If communications activity isn’t contributing in some way to overall business goals, why are you doing it? Whether it’s to drive more people to your website to help increase sales, to position you or your client as a thought-leader to win more business, or showcasing a new widget, it communications activity needs to contribute towards the bottom line.
This is the firm belief of Alex Aiken, Executive Director for Government Communications, who spoke at a recent PR Moment analytics seminar. He explained that starting with objectives that are closely tied to your business plan will ensure you are communicating effectively and subsequently evaluating what actually matters.
- You can’t measure everything and you shouldn’t.
Having aligned your communications objectives to business objectives, determine what success looks like to you and strive towards that.
What metrics matter to your business? What are your target publications? What audience are you trying to reach? Develop a set of KPIs that matter to you or your client and centre evaluation and measurement activity around this.
- Look at what hasn’t worked, not just what has gone well
We all like a pat on the back every now and again, so seeing your website pageviews skyrocket or your campaign gain traction and adding this to report is understandable. However, not everything will have gone to plan or been as big a success as predicted. Looking at where you have been least successful, and investigating why, is perhaps the most valuable part of the evaluation process as you can ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes again.
- All measurement should have an action attached to it.
Whether successful or not, determining your next steps from your evaluation plan is essential. Has your activity been a success and can it be a model for future work? Perhaps you didn’t get the coverage you wanted and need to determine new ways of reaching your audience. Whatever the results of your evaluation process, you need to take away a set or actions to help you improve and succeed.
“Measurements are moving, living, breathing things that you should use to improve your campaigns” explained Lucy Linthwaite, External Media Relations Leader for IBM UK and Ireland at the PR Moment seminar.
- Don’t just count things, measure what matters.
With a whole host of data now at our fingertips, it’s easy to gather and count data and look at this as a way of evaluating. But just counting pieces of coverage, new social media followers or attendees at an event doesn’t tell you what the impact of your work is: you need to think of the outcomes. AMEC defines outcomes as “the effects that your communication had on your target audiences that align to your objectives.”
KOR’s communications activity for clients is measured and regularly evaluated against business and communications objectives. We provide long-term clients with monthly statistics to illustrate levels of engagement and we also measure changes in sentiment. Find out more about our expertise here.