The start of the New Year signals two things in my line of work: end of year reports and planning for the coming year. Both tasks provide ideal opportunities for me to do something meaningful for my team and organization: illustrate how public relations efforts helped drive the bottom line.
Whether working as a consultant or for a client, nearly all business relationships start with establishing business goals. Once goals are agreed upon, the public relations team rolls up their sleeves and gets to work. But it’s not enough to secure media coverage and monitor social engagement. PR professionals must articulate and illustrate how our efforts help support business goals and drive the bottom line.
As we continue to see the convergence of the PR and marketing industries, and the new buzz phrase, digital public relations, many PR professionals are getting overwhelmed by the data—and rightfully so! The following list will help PR professionals make sense of the data and communicate their value and impact on the business’ bottom line.
Understand business goals.
With clearly identified business goals, PR teams will have the information they need to select meaningful metrics to help businesses reach their goals.
Pick meaningful metrics.
PR teams do not, I repeat, do not measure every metric. That approach creates analysis paralysis. Which metrics matter most to business growth? Key message resonance? Brand sentiment analysis? A percentage increase in media coverage? Direct traffic? Let business goals define where your PR team spends their time measuring results.
Track metrics in real-time.
After identifying the metrics that illustrate success, create a process and timeline to capture results over time. While some clients will naturally prefer monthly reports, I usually encourage my clients to dive into the data quarterly. Personally, I find that quarterly tracking allows me to analyze changes in trends and/or current events while providing me with a more extensive sample set of data.
Convert your results.
This is a critical step, and one I find many PR professionals simply overlook. Understanding your business goals, selecting the right metrics, and tracking those metrics in real-time are all important. However, PR professionals have to take their efforts a step further by converting PR results into tangibles to which the leadership team will respond.
Here are a few examples:
– Don’t just report on strong key message resonance; illustrate it to your leadership team. Since increasing your PR pursuits, are you seeing an increase in Google Search Console for your brand or keywords associated with your brand? Has your leadership team started using consistent messaging when participating in media interviews? Those metrics show your messages are gaining momentum and starting to be used consistently alongside your brand.
– Reporting on brand sentiment analysis is more difficult, but it can be done with the right tools! These metrics are made easier to evaluate with help from social media and media monitoring platforms that can help score and total sentiment for you as you likely won’t be privy to every conversation about your brand. By measuring the sentiment, you can often demonstrate causation. An improvement in sentiment can help educate the public about your company or cause, correct misinformation, and even help improve your brand’s reputation.
– Instead of sharing the total percentage increase in media coverage, share the exact publications or geographic locations that coverage has reached. Did you break into a new market? Can you show causation between the media coverage and an increase in sales with that audience? Did you see social media growth that coincided with the recent media coverage timeline?
– When you measure direct traffic, don’t just highlight how consumers are getting to your website. Instead, identify the consumer journey. Show your leaders how this information can help you make smarter decisions about your site’s organization, the content you curate, or how to reengage those users in other digital spaces.
These are just a few metrics you can use to demonstrate your PR team’s value. PR professionals play a pivotal role in advancing the business, and it’s up to us to articulate our role and our wins to our leaders. Good thing they pay us the big bucks!