As we transition into the New Year, many of us are setting a series of goals or “resolutions” that we work toward throughout the year. If you’re like me, these resolutions may stick around for a month or two, but more often than not they’re forgotten by the time spring rolls around.
From a business standpoint, organizations often use this time of year to explore new areas of improvement, such as enhancing PR efforts in support of upcoming changes within the company. While setting these goals is definitely a step in the right direction, a company’s PR program requires constant review and attention to understand the success (or failure) of their efforts and whether or not they are moving toward the outlined goals.
To truly reap the benefits of public relations, organizations need a clearly defined strategy for measuring and evaluating their PR efforts. So where do you start?
Step 1: Defining PR Goals and Objectives
This one may seem obvious, but the first step in designing a successful PR program is determining what you’re aiming to accomplish. The main point here is to set goals and objectives that are both realistic, but also in line with the company’s larger business goals. Once you have a clear idea of the goals and objectives, you can then put them into action.
Step 2: Analyzing PR Outputs
First of all, what is a PR output? Think of these as the direct results of a given PR activity that should ultimately lead to further exposure for your company. Press releases, case studies, media advisories—these all fall under the “PR outputs” umbrella. From an analysis standpoint, reviewing the number and frequency of these outputs can provide a surface level view of how PR efforts are going; however, to truly understand success, don’t stop there.
Step 3: Tracking PR Outcomes
When reviewing PR outcomes, you’re aiming to measure whether the outputs have resulted in any coverage or exposure that your target audiences saw, understood and ultimately reacted to (positive or negative). Key methods for tracking PR outcomes are following the audience or readership for any media outlets publishing stories about your company and/or comparing your company’s collective media exposure to that of your competitors.
Step 4: Measuring PR Outtakes
While the word “outtake” may immediately lead you to think of a mistake or failure, that’s not the case for this PR evaluation technique. PR outtakes refer to the measurement of what audiences have understood or responded to and can indicate what level of engagement your organization received from a given campaign. Did the audience respond positively or negatively? Has the message resonated with the audience? Did your target audience respond to specific calls to action? This specific facet can be measured by looking at leads coming as a result of materials downloaded from your website, adoption of new offerings or overall engagement (posting, sharing, etc.).
In the end, the key to successfully leveraging PR to reach specific business goals lies in understanding how best to measure and evaluate the program. Without these steps in place, even the best PR efforts could result in little to no movement toward the ultimate goal. By strategically measuring and reviewing PR efforts, you can quickly identify the program’s strengths and weaknesses and ultimately make the necessary adjustments to maintain growth and success moving forward.
For more information, download our white paper, "The Importance of a Balanced Media Relations Program."