It seems like the term "public relations" in its classical sense has outlived itself. PR is no longer about press releases, publicity and public position of the company. With the digital development our landscape has changed significantly, the need for media as a mediator has disappeared; you can communicate with stakeholders directly.
Now it's about work with audiences, building communities, trusting the brand and communicating meanings. All this is now known under one term - "communication". PR field has expanded; work has become bigger and more diverse. And if you do not measure PR, then how do you figure out what works, how to improve, how to plan KPI, and advocate your budgets to management? It is often said that one cannot measure the meaning that cannot be reduced to numbers, and so on. That's not right, you can.
With measuring PR you can:
- get a clear picture of the effectiveness of business and prove the value of PR campaigns for achieving business goals;
- plan your strategy, budgets and KPIs;
- understand how to improve campaigns that do not work;
- protect the reputation of the company during crisis situations.
Measurements start with planning
The first step in creating a PR strategy is defining and setting the business goals. Then we transfer business goals onto communication objectives, form a strategy, define tactical activities and a way of assessing achievements.
Answers to these questions will lead you your communications strategy:
- General business goals: What do we want to achieve as a business in a year?
- General goals of communications: What do we want to achieve by communications for business?
- General communications strategy: How do we plan to achieve these goals from the strategic (not tactical) perspectives?
- General communications tactic: What is the set of tools we plan to use to support our strategy?
- Appraisal of communications: What do we plan to measure in order to evaluate the strategy implementation?
The measurements are based on the goals we set. It is important to understand from the start what and how to measure, what specific metrics must be achieved in the end.
Small conclusion #1. We go from goals to results.
What to measureSo here's a standard model of what can be measured and how it affects business objectives.
What are the outputs and outcomes?
Outputs define what business does and show it in numbers:
- number of publications;
- mentions in target media;
- share of voice;
- number of subscriptions;
- involvement etc.
Outputs are basic quantitative metrics, outcomes are qualitative metrics.
Outcomes show the results of communication interaction with the audience:
● level of trust and loyalty.
Outcomes influence business results. Eventually, the ultimate goal is not to get massive positive mentions of the company, but to obtain the business goal in the form of money / market share / investment / rating. It turns out that operating only with outputs is not enough.
Small conclusion #2. It is important to see the context behind the numbers - all the work, achievements and failures.
How to measure
Put your communications into a model or structure. Thus it would be easy to understand where it begins and where it ends, where to go and why. Use more marketing tools that have been tested for years on a large number of cases. For example, Consumer Decision Journey, the McKinsey model, defines points of interaction with the consumer building the Consumer Journey Map.
Mapping consists of three basic steps:
- conduct a consumer experience study to collect data on touch points, their sequence and features.
- visualize the consumer journey, showing negative and positive touch points, their priority and availability.
- identify and implement changes.
The result is a clear map with clear messages, the means for spreading these messages at each stage and for each touch point. The main thing is that it is clear how to access each of the blocks. Here is an example of a map for ticket sales.
Small conclusion #3. It is important to use models (frameworks) to separate communications into blocks and to evaluate them in dynamics.
2. Keep track.
Monitoring in measuring PR is an essential function. It’s gathering the data. Thanks to monitoring, one can understand the current situation and the position of the company in the chain of business goals achievements, track the activity of competitors, crisis and risk subjects.
Today it is logical to do monitoring in the format of the main market news, the ones that produced more reprints, the ones on risky subjects and the ones with significant involvement in social networks. The rest is reduced to figures, graphs, to observe in dynamics and to analyze. There is no need to read 1000 news. We do this in a monitoring tool, so you can extract and read the 10 news that affect the company. In LOOQME you can quickly inspect information from the selected period by role, sentiment, media type, region, duplicates, and audience. Based on this, one can generate and receive automatic reports. A monitoring tool you choose helps to quickly understand the situation and act, which is important in the case of risky subjects.
Speaking of risky subjects and crisis situations, one case comes to mind. When working on tariff reforms topic, we were able to gather information about the preparation of anti-rallies on early stages (looking for people and offering money for participation) with the help of monitoring. As a result, it was possible to react in time, and the rallies never took place.
For tracking crisis situations instant notifications (alerts) are also useful. Alerts are configured by search queries. As soon as the relevant publication is published, the system immediately reports this via email or, for example telegram. So you can see how the information spreads in real time, and get extra time to react.
Nowadays as soon as an author of a negative post in a social network presses the "publish" button, the information is already been picked up by other users. A simple example, let's compare a typical situation "before / after".
Before: Nick bought a spoiled product in a store, for example, cheese with fungus (not the blue cheese). Nick returned to the store with a check and demanded money for the cheese back. The worst that he could do was to express a negative attitude to the store employees, and it would be heard by 4 four buyers around. Perhaps, he would also describe the situation in the book of complaints. How did this affect the store or the manufacturer? It did barely nothing.
After: Nick takes pictures of the spoiled cheese and posts them on social network tagging the store, the manufacturer and the rest of the culprits. Hundreds of people share and comment the post, and in the evening the cheese issue appears on TV news.
So, a timely alert would have helped the store / manufacturer to avoid this scandal. The company would see the post immediately, react at once, apologize, offer a pleasant bonus and so on. Users would no longer distribute the story; Nick would be more likely to understand and forgive the company.
Small conclusion #4. Monitoring is a basic integral function. Data from monitoring should be analyzed. This helps to identify crisis situations quickly. Alerts help to nip the scandal in the bud.
At this stage, in fact, it is important to find the relationship between quantitative indicators and quality. Let's say that the newsbreak has created 200+ publications. Now it is important to understand which media have reprinted the news, who has read the publication, whether the audience understood the message, whether the audience is separating the brand from the company and so on. These things are more complicated, they require analytics and content analysis.
Content analysis identifies and assesses:
- share of voice
- market activity
- what others say
- directions of activity
While monitoring depicts the current situation, content analysis assesses what has been done and how much is accomplished to achieve the strategic goals.
The major value from content analysis is insights. Those that cannot be seen without figures, graphs and comparisons of relationships. Since we analyze different areas in LOOQME, we see and know more than the companies themselves, enclosed in one market segment.
For example, a significant insight was found in the legal field. Lawyers communicate with each other, consciously or not they cut off a part of the audience. 24% of publications end up in profile headings in media, 15 out of 20 resources are specialized. If we compare these numbers with other industries, we will see that they are much higher:
- banking sector - 12%, 7 out of 20 resources
- beer industry - 8%, 7 out of 20 resources
- retail - 10%, 3 out of 20 resources
- agricultural sector - 14%, 8 out of 20 resources
Small conclusion #5. Work with insights.
BIG CONCLUSIONSPR = Communication in the broadest sense of the word.
PR must solve business problems.
PR is planned and accessed in numbers.
Monitoring is not enough, you need to analyze.
It's all about insights.