How to measure the success of your PR
There's a reason no one answer fits all
Measurement is a key component of good PR strategy, which is why we offer the detailed analytics that we do. But with so much talk of measurement and so many tools out there, it’s easy to get lost in a rabbit hole of clickthroughs, trackbacks, mentions, views, likes, engagement, [insert your favorite metric here].
Before you know it, you’ve spent hours wading through data and aren’t any closer to knowing whether you’ve really succeeded, much less what you should do next.
If you’re measuring everything in sight but don’t know what to do with the information, you’ve got it backwards.
First you need to make a strategy of what you want to achieve, decide what success will look like, and then keep measuring.
Now, on to the good stuff.
A solid strategy is the very basis of great PR, but much like New Year's resolutions, it can be tricky to stick with past January. Don't worry – Gini Dietrich & Laura Sutherland are here to help.
"Why am I doing this?" sounds like a very basic question, but don’t underestimate the importance of knowing exactly why you’re doing what you’re doing. From a business standpoint, this question will help you clarify your ultimate goal for any new initiative. It probably has something to do with earning more money, gaining a bigger following, retaining happy customers and generally moving your business forward.
If you don’t know what your goals for a given campaign are before you launch that campaign, you’re already dead in the water. Do you want to catch the attention of a market niche? See your brand all over the media? Decide in advance what you want to accomplish.
Once you’ve identified your goals, decide how you will know when you’ve achieved them. If your goal is a strong social media community, you might measure things like mentions and shares. If you want coverage by top influencers, decide what kind of coverage and by whom.
For example, if your goal is to increase membership, decide how much of an increase spells success. Say you spend $10,000 and get 100 new members. Is it a success or not? The answer is, it depends. If every new member is worth $5,000 in new business, then probably yes. If every new member is worth $5, probably not. You can’t know unless you’ve decided in advance what success looks like for your business.
Decide which metrics to pay attention to, and which metrics to ignore. Keeping with our example of increasing members, you obviously want to measure new memberships, but there are many related metrics that will also be helpful to you. If you’re driving traffic to a sign-up page, you probably want to know where the most traffic is coming from, how many people leave without signing up, and how many people begin the sign-up process but don’t complete it (to name just a few). Conversely, know which metrics you can ignore – this will vary widely based on your specific situation, but remember that just because you can measure something, it doesn’t mean that you should..
Once (and only once) you’ve answered these three questions, you can get down to the actual business of measuring and reporting. Measurement itself is a tactic, and numbers won’t tell you anything if you don’t already know what you’re looking for.
How do you build your measurement strategy? What metrics are important to you, which ones do you ignore, and how do you decide what it means to be successful?
After you’ve outlined your high-level success metrics, break them down into smaller milestones so you can measure your progress against them. If your goal is a strong Facebook presence and one of your metrics is 10,000 fans in three months, you might set benchmarks for 1,000 fans at the end of the first month, 5,000 after the second month, etc.
If you find that you aren’t hitting the benchmarks you set in step 3 above, don’t panic. Take it as a sign that you need to adjust your strategic and tactical approaches, or that perhaps your original benchmarks were unrealistic. Measure your progress against your goals, success metrics, and milestones as you go, and you’ll always know if your approach is working or if you need to make mid-course adjustments in order to meet your goals.
A solid strategy is the very basis of great PR – but much like New Year's resolutions, it can be tricky to stick with in the long term. That's why this January, Laura Sutherland and Gini Dietrich are here to help.