Let’s admit it – what PR professional hasn’t been asked the question, “How do you know what you do is working?” It’s a fair question. Running a PR campaign is an involved process, and figuring out after the fact whether or not it was successful can be challenging. But, no matter the level of technology you have access to, there are still some strategic, yet simple ways to measure whether or not what you do is working.
Before you can measure success, you need to identify what success means within your campaign. Let’s use selling detergent to customers as an example. Naturally, you should track sales of your detergent, but what else can you track related to your PR efforts? What do customers say about your product? What are your brand differentiators?
If your customers say that they buy your detergent because it’s cheaper and cleans clothes better than competitor brands, it is probably a good idea to measure how well those two messages resonate with audiences when you pitch. Let’s say you set a goal of securing 20 media stories in three months with 50% of the stories saying your detergent is cheaper and cleans clothes better than competitors. Here are a few tips for tracking success:
Pay attention to tonality
The saying “any press is good press” probably didn’t originate with a PR professional. We all want positive coverage, but some press might be neutral in nature, while some could even be outright negative. Tracking the tonality of coverage is key because it clues you in to potential strengths and weaknesses your product (and your PR strategy) may have. Pay attention to what your audiences are saying. If you are sending detergent samples to mom and dad bloggers to get them to review your product, are their reviews negative in nature? Monitoring qualitative aspects of the coverage you secure can be telling, so pay attention and react accordingly.
Use the tools in your arsenal
As PR professionals, we often have fantastic tools at our disposal (like Cision Analytics) to measure campaign results. Even when this isn’t the case, that’s no excuse to ignore measuring the results of your hard work. Don’t underestimate the power of Google Sheets or an MS Excel document fitted with formulas able to generate percentages and track metrics. Remember that goal you set to secure 20 articles with at least 50% successful messaging? You can use simple spreadsheet tools to first tag the stories positive stories saying your detergent is cheaper and cleans clothes better. Then, research and implement a cell formula and see what your final percentage is after three months. Did you exceed or fail to meet that goal?
Don’t be afraid to pivot
The whole point of measurement is to generate insight into how well our campaigns are performing. Whether good or bad, the insights we gain inform us moving forward so we can pivot and refine our strategy and tactics if necessary. Once you’ve measured against the goals you’ve set, digest that information and decide what – if anything – needs to change.
Maybe your detergent doesn’t clean clothes better than competitors, but coverage is showing that people think it smells fantastic. Let your measurement continuously inform your PR strategy and your campaigns will be better for it.
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