I love PR and our clients love it even more. It’s effective and inexpensive. However, it also can become an economic drain and a sinkhole for unmet expectations if you don’t do it right. So make sure you determine how your organization is going to assess the value of your PR program’s results.
There are a number of ways to measure whether your PR efforts and expectations are in alignment but know that even the experts disagree on how much time and money are should be involved and how results should be measured. Measuring is one thing, evaluation is quite another. But neither can be done without first establishing expectations.
The three most common ways PR firms measure results:
Firms count the number of placements and calculate the number of audience impressions using the circulation statements of the publications/venues in which your piece appears. The sole purpose is to find out how many people were likely to have read a specific article or announcement.
Message Response Quality
Research departments use focus groups composed of target audience to determine audience reaction to and interpretation of the message.
Researchers employ sophisticated polling methods to determine if and how attitudes and behaviors have measurably changed as a result of PR efforts. This research is extensive and expensive.
While you may measure your efforts using one or all of these methods, evaluating success is more difficult. Consider the following as part of your evaluation process:
Have you generated a broader awareness of your company and its executives?
If reporters are now calling you and you’re spending more time responding to inquiries than pitching story ideas, this is a good indication your efforts are being well-received. This does not mean, however, that you should stop pushing ideas. Reporters not only rely on you to maintain the relationship, they also appreciate your ideas from the credible resource you and your company have become.
Are you experiencing shorter selling cycles?
Public relations helps build credibility, which in turn helps overcome hurdles that may exist among your target customers —the “who are you and why should I care” syndrome. When credibility is established, salespeople can move more quickly through the selling cycle, reducing sales expense. When your sales team sees a shift from uneducated, cold leads to sophisticated, qualified leads, it’s likely that your PR efforts are having a positive impact.
Do you have credibility in the marketplace? If the competition is talking about you and your company or product is included in stories that include vendor references, your PR efforts have gained the attention of industry influencers.