by Tom Kowalski*
In this day in age, it’s becoming exceedingly important for public relations professionals to show their worth. As PR pros, we all know that effective public relations is as equally important as the rest of the communications mix. Unfortunately, some top executives are still hard-pressed to understand the value of PR. This is where media measurement and analysis are vital to demonstrate results.
Recently, Randall Chinchilla, external relations manager, P&G, spoke with Erica Iacono, executive editor, PRWeek, at a BurrellesLuce sponsored round table discussion to underline the importance of measurement in long-term ROI (return on investment.) He explained that executives are more apt to understand the value of public relations when shown measurable results over time and the impact to the business.
According to Chinchilla analysis should be done over time, not only on a “project” basis. Yes, it’s great to see colorful charts and graphs that give a visual (perhaps a spike in publicity for a certain campaign) but more important is how that specific event contributes to the business’ goals over time. It’s hard to determine ROI from a single event when engagement from an event can have a long cycle. When a company invests in a campaign, usually it’s a long term investment. Therefore, the results need to be measured consistently as well. When meaningful analysis reports are presented over a period of time, budgets for measurement are less likely to be cut.
In a digital age, where most of the chatter is online, there are also many challenges to understanding and measuring the messages on the Internet and it is difficult to predict how they directly impact your business. Chinchilla explained that it’s a constant uphill battle on how to best evaluate discussions on blogs and social media (e.g., Facebook and Twitter) and how it affects long-term ROI. The consensus? There doesn’t seem to be any real clarity on how social media affects the future of the business.
Another great point Chinchilla made was that measurement cannot be cookie cutter. One organization’s goals are not the same as another. A great example is that media value or AVE (ad value equivalent) are not a good single-measure of how successful your business is doing. It’s great to show what PR is worth in dollars, but more important for P&G is engagement. There are many other variables that should also be incorporated into the evaluation, but they are different depending on the goals of your business. Are we tracking the online conversations and what’s being said? Is the message positive or negative and how is it directly affecting the organization in the short-term and perhaps more importantly over a long period of time?
The bottom line: Information and data come in fast, but analysis of results takes time in order to be impactful and thoughtful.
So, how do we really know how PR affects the future our business? How can we align our analysis strategies with organization objectives to show added value?
*As an Account Manager at BurrellesLuce, Tom Kowalski works closely with New York-based clients and PR agencies. Tom brings extensive knowledge of the PR industry with more than 7 years of agency experience. He hopes to stimulate readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas by sharing useful information related to the communications industry and business in general, as well as different perspectives on customer service. LinkedIn: Tom Kowalski Twitter: @BurrellesLuce Facebook: BurrellesLuce