A successful PR campaign is all about results. Cybersecurity companies are actively measuring the outcomes of PR activity to prove they’re getting an ROI on their investment. But what’s the best way to achieve this?
In a recent webinar, we at Code Red Communications, alongside PR measurement specialist, Nectarize, discussed the varying perspectives on PR metrics, compared how different agencies evaluate their work, and tackled the problems the industry encounters in the process.
In a day-to-day role, communications agencies must juggle media relations with content production, social media management and more. But above all else, they must demonstrate their successes to their clients in a way that shows a real purpose to wider business objectives.
The International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) has established an integrated framework for evaluation. It sets out the essential components of a good campaign: objectives, activities, outputs, out-takes, outcomes, and impacts. While this may be the benchmark for how the industry evaluates its work, the reality is that this does not consistently happen, and true client/agency relationships can make following the ideal model more difficult.
Three common challenges that we have when we start work with clients all revolve around getting the campaign in place to effectively measure our work against achieving a business impact for the client in the months to come.
- The need to establish a precise and genuine campaign aim.
When we start work, the client understandably wants us to jump headfirst into generating as much coverage as possible. However, without a clear business aim for our work, the messages and content that we achieve in this coverage can appear scatter gun and can, at the end of a six-month campaign, result in questions asked about what we are truly achieving with these results.
For example, is the company trying to reposition its brand in the market to include an innovation or service range? Or is the client new to the market as a challenger brand to other more established players? Or perhaps the client is going on an acquisition spree to cement its market position? Each of these business aims are very different and have a big impact on our creatives and how we execute a PR campaign.
- Using metrics for which PRs can genuinely be held accountable.
Sometimes communication agencies are judged against metrics that they do not have complete control over and cannot directly influence.
So, it is important at the start of the campaign to be clear about what we are working to achieve, how we will measure this and that, if achieved, the client will think we have done a good job. An example of this would include being judged by a contribution to qualified sales or marketing leads when we only have a brief and budget to secure media coverage.
This coverage is often just the first stage of the customer journey, so unless we also have the brief and budget to manage subsequent stages of prospective customers becoming genuine leads, then metrics that are part of this conversion journey should not really apply to us as an agency.
Incidentally, if marketing teams are not thinking about how to connect readers of media publications and coverage to other marketing content online, and we are not given the brief and flexibility to work in this area, then this important stage of the pipeline journey can fall between two stools.
- Knowing the official and unofficial success criteria of a campaign.
I listened to a great podcast recently when one of my contemporaries referred to the ‘gut-feel’ metric. I agree that this is a matter that we need to understand right at the start of any campaign.
What I mean is that the goals written on paper and signed into the contract do not necessarily match those in the emotional mind of senior stakeholders to whom the CMO must report.
Just the other week, a CEO got in touch to say that they had seen a profile article on a rival in a media publication that they revered. So, regardless of how well we had achieved against all our campaign objectives, and that the metrics were on fire, this unofficial ‘gut-metric’ target was missed.
It is important that we understand the full range of what we need to achieve – both the official marketing numbers and the other flagship, gut-feel emotional targets – if we are to be successful.
Developing a PR campaign means entering a partnership, where both client and agency must work together to align PR success with business objectives.
To explore the topic of PR metrics in greater depth, the full webinar is available on our website here: Webinar: Getting PR measurement right – part 1 – Code Red (coderedcomms.com)