Charting the future of public relations
Moving PR Measurement Beyond Branding
Holmes Report
Holmes Report
News and insights from the global PR industry

Moving PR Measurement Beyond Branding

Holmes Report

By Beth Monaghan How do you measure PR? I answer this question more than any other. And I have good answers. Just ten years ago, advertising equivalency was a PR person’s only measurement tool. We counted clips. Then we added up the impressions based on each publication’s advertising rate. We also made clip books with good old-fashioned rulers, photocopiers and invisible tape. [caption id="attachment_1375" align="alignright" width="211"]Beth Monaghan Beth Monaghan[/caption] Today, we’ve traded clip books for performance dashboards as the definition of PR has expanded far beyond media coverage. PR often includes content marketing, social audiences, influencers, and real-time conversations. And all of these things can fuel lead generation – the ultimate goal. As the definition of PR expands, so too does its measurement. At the very top of that scale is an organization’s goals. PR programs and measurement must map to a company’s business objectives. The excitement of seeing the company and its executives in print only lasts a short time. Once coverage moves beyond a novelty to an expectation, executives shift their attention to its impact on the bottom line. Media placements are critical to the measurement process, but not because of their quantity. I consider their impact in combination with the social media ecosystem. We break down measurement into three buckets:
  1. External exposure. External exposure is the audience for your earned media (media coverage and its social reach) and owned content channels (your corporate blog and social channels). External exposure will likely include the traditional metrics of clips and impressions, which will become more meaningful when combined with the other two metrics that follow. However, it should look beyond the number of placements to their direct impact. Which media properties and topics are referring traffic to your site? Which earned media opportunities drove the top Web traffic spikes? Exposure should be the first benchmark, even though it’s the most traditional one. Without distribution, your message will remain mere words on a screen.
  2. Audience engagement. Engagement measures your audiences’ connection to your message and your organization. The primary way to look at engagement is through the sharing of your content. How many are sharing it through their own social networks, and where? Then we look at how they are engaging with your organization and its messages. Are they following your company and thought leaders on social channels? Are they interacting with you through those channels? Are they commenting on the articles that mention your organization and its thought leaders? Are they commenting on blog posts and articles authored by your executives?
  3. Influence. Influence measures the desired action. Are your prospects considering your organization in their decision-making processes? Are they associating themselves with your brand? Are they coming to your Web site? If so, which pieces of content are most engaging to them? What are their landing pages? And finally, are they signing up, purchasing your product, etc.
  InkHouse Dashboard Image PR measurement is easier to write about than to document. It requires an arsenal of tools that we mix and match based on each organization’s goals and programs, but it’s worth it. Good measurement fuels a more successful PR program because it will be informed by important insights into which content is working, which media outlets resonate with your audience, and which social channels perform best. PR will always be one part branding. No tool can measure the full impact of a standalone feature in the New York Times. But we have the tools – and the insights – to move PR from an intangible branding exercise to a powerful engagement tool. Beth Monaghan is principal and co-founder of InkHouse Media + Marketing.
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