How can you measure your communications?

Communications measurement | PR metrics | PR evaluation
You’ve probably heard of the old adage, “What gets measured gets managed”. However, it was recently found that 33 per cent of PR and communications people in the UK do not have a framework in place to evaluate their work. So, how can communicators measure their activities?

By Thomas Roden, senior account executive

In May 2018, the PRCA released the results of its biennial PR and communications census. Among many interesting findings about the sector’s diversity and the changing roles of in-house and agency communicators, something that really surprised us was that one-third of respondents said they did not use any method of evaluating their activities.

Interestingly, there isn’t a consensus among the other two-thirds on what methods should be used to measure communications. Previously established measurements like advertising value equivalent (AVE) are in decline, with only 12 per cent still using it, and there are so many different measurable metrics that there is no single framework in place.

However, this lack of an all-encompassing framework isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At Stone Junction, we endorse the idea that the metrics of measurement should be in line with what the client wants to achieve. After all, a client looking to build a comprehensive database of e-mail marketing contacts will be less worried about generating a high volume of press coverage.

That doesn’t mean those other metrics aren’t important, it simply highlights the need for evaluation criteria to be tailored to the objectives of a campaign. This is particularly important in the modern digital communication landscape, where there’s an abundance of data and a high temptation to scour through it all.

So, how do you choose the metrics worth measuring? Ultimately, it depends what you want to achieve. Recently, PR analytics platform provider Trendkite shared an interesting concept called the communicator’s funnel. While limited in the metrics it identifies, this framework serves as a good reference point for the different areas we can evaluate. These are brand impact, digital impact and bottom-line impact.

Brand impact is effectively the media and perception sides of PR activity, encompassing things like awareness and reputation. Here, you’ll want to measure things such as the number of mentions in the media and how it compares to that of key competitors, the accuracy of an article’s message to your marketing messaging, the search visibility and domain authority of a publication website and social mentions or engagement.

Digital impact, as you might expect, is a close measurement of your digital marketing activity. This includes measurement of all the usual SEO metrics like domain authority and keyword ranking of your brand’s website, the number of backlinks — ideally split between brand backlinks and search-term backlinks — generated each month, and social media statistics like page following and article shares.

Finally, bottom-line impact is the straightforward measurement of how communications activity translates into sales. The easiest way of measuring this is by looking at conversions in your site’s analytics from specific URLs, whether these are referral links from coverage or tracking URLs made using a service like HubSpot.

With such a wide range of measurables, it’s no surprise that so many communicators don’t know where to begin with evaluating their work. The trick is knowing what the best measurements are to effectively manage a campaign’s progress and achieve your objectives.

If you’re struggling to get to grips with modern marketing’s deluge of data, get in touch on +44 (0) 1785 225 416. We’re proud to be counted among the PR professionals that understand the importance of data and evaluation. In fact, each of our technology PR campaigns are conceived with metrics in mind, allowing us to monitor performance and show measurable impact that matters to you.

Thomas Roden

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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