Hint: It’s not always that simple
Whether you’re a Marketing & PR Director or a CEO, you’ve probably pondered the question of measuring your team or your agency’s public relations and marketing efforts.
While it would be so easy to Don Draper the whole thing, show a lift in sales, and dollar-for-dollar ad spend, when it comes to more subjective disciplines like marketing and PR, it’s just not that simple. And that’s no spin.
While sales and results are usually king, there are often factors in measuring a campaign that are subjective. And guess what? They always depend on the person evaluating the work.
The cold hard numbers
For all you analytical thinkers out there, I’m talking to you. While PR and marketing certainly have other factors at play that determine a campaign’s success, there are also some real numbers we can look at that will let us know our return on investment. Many firms and professionals may tell you, “PR is so much more valuable than advertising because it’s coming from a third party.” While that may be true, we like to stick to the facts at REED. We measure a media hit’s value at precisely what it would cost you to place an ad in the outlet, or the minimum ad spend necessary when it comes to media outlets. For example, if you’ve received a placement in Southern Living and you can’t just buy one ad, we’d value that hit at the minimum spend the magazine requires. Take that number, along with your total media placements, figure it into your monthly retainer and you’ll learn quickly whether the hits you’re getting justify that monthly fee you’re paying.
While advertising value and multipliers are a favorite in the industry, there are also those much-loved impressions. Again, this is a straight-up, no-frills way to measure how many people are hearing about you or saw that placement.
Where it gets even more granular is in the form of ratios and percentages. (Who knew my decision to major in PR to avoid any hard math classes was a bad one?!). What I mean by this is whether it’s an event where we’re handing out information, collecting sign-ups or engagement on social media, these numbers are all relative to the potential audience and how much of that audience we can reach. Below are a few measurement examples and benchmarks we strive for that can help guide you as you measure your marketing and PR campaigns.
The quality equation
So, we’ve determined that yes, there actually are real numbers that apply to PR and marketing. While there isn’t a hard-and-fast rule to measuring, there are most definitely ways to determine if your efforts were successful using the numbers. What those numbers fail to take into account, and what I might say is the most critical measure of success, (Of course I would. I was a PR major!) is the message that was communicated.
What good is it to have a front-page story in the New York Times that fails to describe your business accurately? Who cares if you handed out 5 million flyers or distributed 1 million mailers if it was riddled with typos or didn’t have a call to action? What impact does it have on your brand if you have millions of impressions on social media, but it’s a negative viral post?
Of course, this is common sense, but the quality equation is an essential part of measurement. Not only is the quality of the message important, but where it’s placed matters as well. Is the placement or event relevant to the audience you’re trying to reach? If not, again, who cares?
How do you ensure your campaigns measure impact through number AND quality? Here are a few factors in evaluating and questions to ask as you review your results:
– Did the placement, event, collateral, etc., include one or more of my key messages? (Yes, we’d love to get all three to five verbatim, but remember, this is PR and marketing, not advertising.
– Did this campaign encourage action and provide the necessary information for that action to take place? Think website, phone number, essential contact info. Side note – another way to measure this is to then check your website hits after a placement for spikes and referral sources.
– What was the response to my message? Did you have positive engagement on social media? Was there a post-event survey? Did people take action?
It Just Plain Feels Good Factor
Finally, there is that oh-so-intangible thing that makes you feel like what you’re doing is working and an impact has been made. For some, it’s a headshot of the CEO on the front page of a magazine. For others, it’s a kind note (or several) from core customers with genuine admiration and gratitude for the work you’re doing. Whatever that feel-good factor is, it’s another way to measure your success. The best part about it is it all depends on who is measuring it.
If you’ve followed our company, you likely know we’re big believers in the enneagram and we all love a good personality test. What those tests lead us to know is that no one person is the same or thinks the same way, and that includes when it comes to what success and how an effective PR or marketing campaign looks.
The best way to make sure your efforts measure up? Ask the person evaluating success at the end of the day what it means to them. If your current campaigns aren’t being measured in the ways mentioned above, now might be the time to set some clear benchmarks and make sure you truly are getting a return for that investment.