We began the panel thinking back to the start of our careers in PR delivering AVE and PR values – the dreaded number faced by many of us who spent countless mornings measuring columns and estimating costs from rate cards. Our obsession over news coverage is driven by this. We would measure these outputs of our PR campaigns and call it a day. In Danny’s words, “Why did we reduce all of the invaluable work we do to a single number that doesn’t mean much?”
Being able to determine and score PR performance is a shared challenge among agencies and brands. But we are slowly but surely making progress in moving away from output-based measurement to measuring outcomes, such as reputation, comprehension, behaviour, attitude, awareness, and engagement. Evaluate the shifts in outcomes and you’ll learn more than if you simply count outputs.
A common misconception is that measurement and evaluation requires a massive budget. The reality is that today, there’s more tech and tools than ever before to track outcomes. For brands and agencies, there are opportunities to be a lot more sophisticated with measurement on a reasonable budget.
As Andrew puts it, “We’ve seen companies with significant budgets with a poor measurement programme. On the other end of the spectrum, there are enterprising teams that don’t have those big budgets, but are prepared to expend the intellectual calories to demonstrate value. What follows is that they tend to get more buy-in from stakeholders and can increase their budgets or team sizes.”
The critical thing is to just get started.
There are three scenarios that are in need of a measurement programme:
- Companies with no measurement in place.
- Companies undergoing a strategic shift i.e. a product launch, new market entry, or rebranding.
- Companies with an outdated measurement programme that’s no longer fit for purpose or not delivering the insights needed anymore.
We touched upon various insights you can derive from measurement, including identifying the whitespace opportunities, seeing how you track against your competitors across themes like ESG or DE&I, understanding how your brand voice is perceived and what product attributes contribute to reputation. In BMW’s case, how performance, luxuriousness, and design impacts brand reputation.
And if you’re already measuring your PR and comms, you need to be reviewing the research as well as the measurement programme on at least an annual basis. In Preeti’s experience, her team has refreshed their reporting at least three to four times in the past five years.
Often, those working in PR and marketing say they know their brand, their products, and their audience, which they rightly should. As Andrew puts it, “Don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security where you don’t need to go back to the research to keep an eye of what’s happening in the media landscape.”
At the end of the day, being in PR is also being an internal adviser, understanding stakeholders and understanding how shifts in the company might affect those groups. There’s a lot of data and insight to inform you and help you be a better adviser in challenging situations.
To wrap up, here are three things you can do to be better at measuring outcomes.
Firstly, define the business challenge in simple terms, then map how PR and comms can support it. This will help you identify outcomes to measure, and you can wAVE goodbye to AVE.
Secondly, talk in the language of your stakeholders whose buy-in you need. Partner with other units within the business to gauge the broader impact of your communications.
Thirdly, play the long game. People are more likely to click on an app or a brand that they trust and know over a longer period of time. Get into the minds of your target consumers, poll your audiences at various points of the year. Know their challenges, pain points, and desires.
The media landscape is always changing, and what people are interested in is always changing. Your messaging and PR strategy will therefore keep changing, so you have to constantly relook at your research and re-evaluate your measurement programme.
Some may disagree and say it’s difficult to compare this year to the last if you change your strategy. We’d encourage you to be free to test and learn, and take an experimental approach to the way that you measure outcomes.
Check out AMEC’s website to access free resources on measurement methodologies and frameworks, case studies, and best practices.
The event was held in association with PRCA Asia-Pacific and AMEC.