Measuring, evaluating and proving that the work we have put our heart and soul into is worth something can often be very tricky in public relations.
Clients understandably want to see their business grow and our job would be a whole lot easier if only we could attribute every social post, blog and piece of media coverage to sales but unfortunately technology hasn’t advanced that far yet. However, this isn’t the end of the world because in our industry, we know how important PR is for a business, whether it be for building credibility and reputation, driving awareness, increasing sales, fundraising or changing policy. Although, there is a perception from other industries that PR is a less serious discipline, particularly when it comes to measuring and evaluating.
This week AMEC, which stands for Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication, has launched an Agency Working Group dedicated to the specific needs of PR and communications agencies. Its chair, Jon Meakin, has called to raise industry standards of measurement and evaluation across the board and asked for larger agencies to provide a helping hand to smaller ones. We definitely agree that the industry could be working more collaboratively to ensure that PR measurement is considered an everyday part of what we do. As a marketing communications agency we have never considered PR in silo and have always looked at the bigger picture. No matter which discipline clients require, we take a holistic approach to everything we evaluate and measure, whether it be earned, owned or paid.
At Big Cat the starting point is always a company’s business objectives, as we fully understand that these are what really help us to recognise the effect that our work will have on the respective organisations. Knowing what matters to the business means that we are better placed to build a measurement framework to demonstrate impact. Our evaluation process includes looking at outtakes to measure the response from audiences, reviewing outcomes to look at the effect that communications is having and then also factoring in those all-important outputs where we measure figures like reach and visits to the website etc. In the final part of the process we look at the impact that these results have had on the overall business outcome and link this back to both the business and communications’ objectives which were set out upfront.
Investing in the right tools to support you in gathering all this data is really important, although we know that not all practitioners are necessarily in a position to use these. At Big Cat we work with tools such as Meltwater and Sprout to measure both our social and PR more effectively. Using these tools we have been able to conduct share of voice reports for our clients, as well as social media audits and competitor audits. We are able to see what has caused spikes in engagement or a flurry of visits to their website and what can be attributed to our activity. By looking at competitors we have been able to see where external factors have affected the industry as a whole and where we can use the information to review and update our strategy if we need to.
The launch of the group coincides with the PRCA’s annual Digital PR and Communications Report which was launched in Birmingham last week. The report also identified that while the UK PR industry is taking greater ownership of social media activities, there has been a decline in confidence in measuring its ROI and investment in social media spend.
The report showed that disciplines such as influencer marketing are seeing a levelling out as the industry casts a more rigorous eye over how to achieve reliable measurement and ROI metrics from these activities.
PR professionals’ confidence in measuring the ROI of digital PR has dropped from 63% in 2017 to 58% this year. This marks the first year that confidence in measuring the ROI of digital PR is lower than the ROI of traditional PR activities (63%).