Starting a PR campaign without a clearly defined outcome is like starting a journey without a destination. It can be done but rarely leads to a sense of accomplishment. It’s astonishing how often PR dollars are spent with only a cursory glance to meaningful measurement. All too often, success is measured by the volume of press coverage generated. To continue the road trip metaphor, this is like gauging your journey by the number of cars on the road.
Defining PR Campaign Goals
Every PR campaign must have a defined outcome at its heart. Often this is the need to increase share of media voice to grab the attention of potential customers.Alongside this is the need to communicate a brand’s purpose in an authentic and meaningful manner. Earned media is still a strong channel to achieve these aims and so the art of skilful storytelling is as important today as it always has been.
So where do teams start in building the right measurement approach? And why is having measurement at the heart of the campaign such an important component in the overall PR discipline?
The global industry has debated these two questions for decades. Fortunately, the world has moved on and through the strong work of trade associations such as AMEC, PRSA, ICCO and vendors such as Carma, Cision, SignalAI and others, the ability to monitor and analyze media coverage is at the fingertips of every PR professional. The starting point now lies with the business goal of the organization. What is it seeking to achieve? What does success look like? Only by truly understanding this, can PR teams align campaigns in a manner that speaks to the needs of the C-suite.
The 4-Step Rally Point PR Approach to Measurement
Rally Point approach to measurement is rooted in uncovering the barriers our clients face from a business and reputational standpoint. We call these pain territories. By working with senior leadership, we have a systematic method of assessing all the ‘symptoms’ our clients present and then developing a ‘treatment’ plan that delivers the right business outcomes through effective storytelling. We do this by:
1. Asking the right questions and seeking complete business transparency – hierarchical barriers have no place in the comms function. PR owners – even agencies – must know what the business is doing, how it is performing and where the skeletons in the closet might be lurking. In short, PR must operate at the heart of the organization.
2. Leaning into data and insights to provide context and evidence to the campaign. Only by having a starting point can the end destination be measured. Technology is our friend in this regard and underpins the discovery and planning phases of all campaigns. We look to find the hidden truth behind whatever situation a client might be facing and then use this insight to frame strategy and creative development.
3. Not jumping on the merry-go-round of activity the moment the engagement begins. Sadly, agencies or individual teams operate too often as order takers. Sitting back and passively taking direction is not the way to make a measurable impact. Every engagement must start with a period of discovery and consultation to truly understand the pain territories. Only by doing this, can an effective treatment plan – aka the PR program – be presented to the client.
4. Measuring what matters not what looks good. Understanding the range of measurement metrics and the story they tell must be a core skill of any agency. The AMEC Measurement Framework provides the definitions and hierarchy needed by any team to develop a measurement program that’s scaled to clients of all sizes. Using the taxonomy provided coupled with the AMEC Measurement Maturity Mapper allows organizations and their agencies to take small steps in the measurement journey.
It’s by living these beliefs that we can counsel clients not just on their story but on the impact that story must have on the audiences that matter. And by agreeing up front what needs to be addressed and then measuring the outputs and outcomes, we can justify and therefore protect the investment made in communications. Speaking the language of the C-suite is not about the numbers of press clippings, it’s about demonstrating how the work of PR has helped them achieve the success they demand.
If you’d like to chat with us about measuring the success of your PR campaign, please reach out. We’d love to geek out with you over data!