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Since I started in Public Relations in the early 2000s I have seen the measurement conversation evolve and change, so much so that it is a completely different beast to what it was ‘back in the day’. And for good reason. Tracking publicity and reporting in number of clips and AVE doesn’t provide enough insight and certainly doesn’t provide a client with any intelligence on whether the PR efforts affected his or her business or brand. Things have (thankfully) changed.


Today, as PRs we are regularly asked to showcase our impact on the bottom line. It’s not always an easy task as typically PR is used to build awareness, educate or change perceptions; these outcomes aren’t often associated with R-values which leaves us PRs somewhat empty-handed especially when the client wants to see sales.


Oftentimes sales is the only end-goal, especially for clients on a shoestring budget; everything else is considered superfluous. But when our tools of the trade don’t directly affect this metric it makes reporting tricky. It’s key then that we are upfront about what we will achieve, and outline how it plays a role in generating those much wanted sales.   


Take online publicity. Get enough links in the exposure and it plays a role in boosting a client’s SEO. Not only could these online articles pop up when a prospect searches for your services, if they click on the link embedded in the article it takes them to a website and this is half the battle won. It’s no wonder then that there has been a massive demand for online editorial over traditional – back in the early 2000s the opposite was true. The outtake? Include “Impact SEO” in the upfront goals.


And don’t overlook a quick website audit. When running a campaign that aims to deliver publicity and drive leads to a website, it is essential – as I have learnt – to audit the client’s site upfront to ensure that when a prospect lands on it it is clear what they need to do next. If the phone number or call to action of, let’s say “Book Now” isn’t clear and obvious, the lead might be lost. It astounds me how poor some websites are. When sales are a metric to measure this is the last thing you want to happen so it’s wise to review the client’s site before launching into a campaign, and advise them on a few beneficial tweaks.


Integration is also big. I am a huge fan of collaborating with other experts in their fields, for instance digital marketers or even working with online publications on a paid-for media partnership. If sales are the end goal, then it’s in our and the client’s interest to include tactics that are lead generators. Coupled with online and traditional PR it is a powerful force to be reckoned with and can deliver some stellar results.


Reporting on sentiment, placement and top-tiered media is also a non-negotiable. In the past PRs weren’t that concerned with these ‘extra’ metrics; it was all about the ‘thud factor’ or in other words the amount of clips that were generated in the media. As mentioned earlier in this post, this is all very well but provides zero insights into what worked and didn’t. Reviewing the coverage to understand whether it is positive, negative or neutral is critical, if it was included on a homepage or shared in a newsletter or via social and if the right audience was engaged, via the right publications, must be part of the measurement process. Otherwise the metrics are too thin and don’t provide any intel into a PR’s performance.


And then there’s aligning to business goals. This conversation needs to be had upfront, before implementation starts. If sales are the be-all-and-end-all then integration is the answer. But sometimes a client wants to build their credibility or raise their profile to investors, etc. In this case the goal is to prove that their story was told in the most relevant publications and that, to make it live for longer, was shared on all relevant social networks and newsletters.


At the end of the day, PRs are part and parcel of the integrated marketing mix. It is our duty to understand what our clients want, and then to find ways to report on the metrics that matter. AVE is not the answer, and in many countries it has been banned because it is just so ineffective. Let’s rather focus on SEO, lead generation, sentiment, top-tiered media and, yes, even sales, to showcase our effectiveness and leave the ‘thud factor’ where it belongs.

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