Benchmarking your performance and its effectiveness couldn’t be easier than with the Four Eeees. Do you know what they are?
There are many ways you can evaluate how successful your PR program is. The major issue is while the strategies have matured, the ways some people continue to measure them haven’t. It’s not to say they can’t be measured – in fact, it is easier than ever, but sadly some PR agencies are stuck in the past and have refused to evolve. When I hear some still use AVE, which hasn’t been recognised by PRIA in years, it’s hard not to feel as a profession, they are letting the ‘team’ down. Certainly, they let their clients down.
Too often PR Professionals continue to judge their success by their ability to place material in the media rather than on the impact that coverage has on shifting opinion, awareness, or moving markets. For me, the question is two fold – not only how can you best measure your efforts against the different organisational objectives, but how do those measures feed back into a self-perpetuating model of best practice.
So I thought I should start at the beginning – yes, clips are important in PR, but what kind of clips and where? Are you measuring their sentiment? Do you track them against a competitive share of voice, or even share of voice with respect to issues, because that’s different again!
Perhaps the most important measure is key message penetration. This shouldn’t really vary, regardless of the objectives or strategy. At the end of the day, you should have a point to each engagement you have with every journalist, blogger, analyst or audience you address. Further to this, if you aren’t measuring key message penetration, you are doing yourself a disservice because it is one of the strongest ways you can show you’ve planned for a result in advance and achieved it, not reacted in the moment and fluked it.
To extend this, it helps to tier your audiences. You can’t be everything to everybody, so spend time working with those influences that make the most difference for you and weigh them accordingly. Going for a National Publication, doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting the right story, to the right people. You should set metrics against this. I know this might seem simple – it is! But… that doesn’t mean people are doing it. How do I know? Half of my time is spent in new business meetings with organisations wanting more from their incumbent.
And what about interviews? Are you only measuring the success of your program by coverage? Most journos are pretty cluey – they don’t waste time interviewing people they aren’t interested in, so don’t think an opportunity to speak with them has no value, regardless of whether they write about it or not. Many events promoters take referrals for speakers and yes articles translate to invitations, but so do conversations. Your credibility grows or diminishes from the time you open your mouth, not the time-signature of the article that gets posted or published.
So what other ways should you think about measuring not just your performance, but its effectiveness? I think of it as the Four Eeees:
Enticement – The link between PR and sales has often been a tenuous one. The length and complication of the sales cycle for different organisations means this can be challenging to judge across the board, but conversion rate of pipeline to revenue isn’t the only measure. Pull-through to sales meetings is in my mind far more telling of the effect of PR. It can also be easily tracked when your CRM interlocks with your PR Plan. Part of the job of PR is to get your Sales guys in the door. When they are having more meetings, or landing ones they previously didn’t get and that corresponds with the success of the aforementioned metrics, that’s a compelling business case for the power of PR. Another simple measure is website visits – and this is clear cut. Are your marketing people and PR people talking to one another and sharing this info? With the web you see what they are looking at and for how long. Did the pages referenced line up with your Program? If they did, big tick!
Engagement: Well, the word engagement can mean so many different things, but what I mean here is how you can use social media to track interest in your editorial. ‘Likes’ is certainly one way, yet it is basic. Trending and reTweets are a step beyond that because it puts the basic in context of everything else that is going on in social media forums. But… what I see as the most important measure for engagement of readers with PR via social are ‘comments’. When someone has been so fired up or inspired they can’t help but contribute to the conversation – another big tick!
Evaluation: PR is not just about news. News happens almost irrespective of what you do about it from a PR perspective. It may not come to the media’s attention without you, but it is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Features and reviews are an important weighted way to determine the value of your program. Even the little guys can make news, but do they command enough market interest to ensure journalists, analysts and bloggers are reviewing and critiquing their position. This is where your ability to engineer it is key and a third big tick!
Emulation: Lastly, something I think is a good indicator of the effectiveness of your program is not just getting your customers to react, but also your competitors. When your competitors start copying your programs, that’s a fair validation that what you are doing is causing a stir. I always advise my clients to focus on what they do best and not worry about their competition, never advocating tit for tat, but when you get their goat – well, that’s leadership. As long as you stay on the front foot, your Program will continue to be fruitful.
Syndication is also another form of emulation, but from a different perspective. Don’t think that because the article is republished across the network makes it any less a story. It’s just a more efficiently produced story. The reason the networks exist is because they need to be sensitive to different audiences, and if you have proven your activity is relevant to the spectrum, you have your fourth and final big tick. This is a skill that needs to be measured.
These are the Four Eeees that reveal what your results really mean to the business.