evaluating PR success and ROI

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Lead story or headline news is short-lived and often forgotten. (Unless, of course, you are BP, Tiger or Toyota).  That’s why it is so important that beyond getting media coverage, (good or bad), that you evaluate the success of your PR campaign. Evaluation is about message drive, delivery and gaining a positive behavioural response. Be it social or traditional media, building in solid PR metrics measure the depth, resonance, importance and influence of the conversation.

An essential step in evaluating any PR project or campaign is to set clear objectives or criteria. By determining the criteria at the onset, a PR project will have measurable results. The following list can also be used to measure crisis communications and unplanned media attention after the fact.

  • Is your “brand” or name of your product, personnel or service accurately represented in the piece of media coverage?
  • Was a photo included in the article? Whether it is a photo you provided the media or the result of a photo opportunity, as the old adage goes “a picture tells a thousand words”. Often the inclusion of a colour photo will have greater impact.
  • Where was the article located in the publication or when did it air in a broadcast? Logically, front page or front section of a publication has more prominence than back, and likewise, the first 15 minutes of a broadcast is more widely watched or listened to and therefore has a greater chance of reaching a broad audience.
  • Key messages should be developed prior to campaign launch. Key message(s) can be delivered by spokesperson or via the media release. Credibility of spokesperson or expert will add value to tour PR efforts and can enhance PR coverage. Was your opinion or quote included?  Were you quoted directly?  Was it edited or paraphrased? It is important to evaluate if accurate message delivery was represented in the media coverage.
  • Is your company/brand/product the singular focus of a news item? Where competitors included or used as a comparison?
  • Did the news item include a call to action? Did the coverage provide direction to your URL, website, blog etc.?
  • In addition, tone, (the characterization of the coverage), is an important consideration in measurement of your PR activities. How does the target audience feel, (or is likely to feel), about your organization, product or topic?  Was the media coverage positive, neutral or balanced, or negative?

Objectives or criteria will vary from campaign, organization and media outlet. Sit down with your PR consultant or agency. Make sure your objectives are aligned with your communication goals and you are getting the best ROI for your media efforts.

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