Public relations metrics and measurement have always been an industry “touchy subject.” A lot of agencies claim to have a magical formula or some sort of platform that will prove how their results have improved their clients’ bottom line. The truth is; PR measurement is not an exact science; measurement and metrics are purely subjective.

Recently I attended a webinar put on by PRNews called “PR Measurement Webinar: Linking Your Media Coverage to Business Outcomes (from the Mainstream to Tweetstream)” where three panelists discussed how they measure PR metrics. It was an incredibly interesting and informative webinar. Here are the main points that I got out of the presentation:

  1. The difference between Value and ROI: Value is a subjective measure which relates solely to personal measure of expectation, worth and importance while Return-on-Investment (ROI) is a qualitative financial measure which relates expenditure with business results. Demonstrating PR metrics in relation to value is obtainable, however, it is much more difficult to prove how PR results impact ROI.
  2. Success can be Measured Differently: What’s meaningful and reasonable to the client may differ greatly from the PR team. Most executives are thinking about the bottom line and how to generate new business. Public relations measures success through valuing the volume of press clippings, the amount of impressions, and positive vs. negative tones in key coverage. The only way bench marks can be reached is if these ideas of success come together otherwise both parties won’t reach their goals.
  3. The Executive Audit and Determining a Value System: The most critical aspect in generating a value system and producing results that can be measured is by conducting an executive audit. Having brief structured interviews internally with company executives can help a PR team gain mutual understanding with the company, assess needs of the client and preferences, set bench mark performance goals, improve over time, and meet/beat expectations. By setting objectives that both the client and the PR team have agreed upon is a way to reduce risk and prove value. If sales goals and lead generation are a part of the PR program, these objectives can be connected to ROI, but only if discussed at the beginning of a PR campaign.

By understanding how subjective metrics and measurement can be, it will actually help you determine a way to measure your success that benefits not only you, but your client. It is important to have an executive audit at the beginning of a campaign so expectations are understood. Once you have created bench marks and goals for the campaign that align with business objectives, you can truly measure PR success.