June 01, 2015 / by Erin Feldman

Martin Kihn, research director at Gartner, says many communicators shoot first, then ask where to aim. It’s the buckshot approach. Narrow the focus. Figure out the target first. You’re more likely to hit it if you know where to aim.

Consider these six tips when implementing a PR measurement program:

1. Determine PR objectives

Objectives should align with business outcomes. They have to. It’s the only way to move PR measurement away from vanity metrics like AVE and impressions to ones with concrete value.

What is your brand trying to achieve this year? And how does PR align with that? What are the goals in relation to awareness, engagement and leads? What quantifiable value do they have as part of the business strategy?

2. Define the audience

Objectives tend to lead to a consideration of audience. They should. The audience gives scope to your aim. Ask these questions to get started:

  • Who is the audience?
  • Where do they spend time?
  • How do they consume content?

Use the answers to focus the target and refine your aim.

3. Decide on efforts

PR Measurement Tips

Establishing outcomes and audience profiles is crucial to PR measurement success. They equip you with the right tools, or efforts, which affect your ability to reach goals and target audiences.

You wouldn’t take a knife to a gunfight. Neither would you use Instagram to grow awareness and engagement if the target audience isn’t there. You’d choose the channels and communication platforms that are most likely to accomplish outcomes and reach audiences.

4. Monitor results

Laying the groundwork will improve outcomes, but you still have to monitor the results. Some efforts will be duds. Others will perform beyond your wildest expectations.

Learn from both. They each have their lessons to teach. They show what is and isn’t working. And, armed with the right questions, you’ll know what to do next.

This particular step should occur in both real time and hindsight. Develop the ability to respond to events as they occur. If an effort obviously isn’t working, abandon it. Don’t keep fighting with the wrong tool. You’re only going to hurt yourself and possibly others.

Also compare month-to-month, quarter-to-quarter, et cetera. Use historical data to establish benchmarks. Compare current efforts against it. Use it to inform new and existing campaigns. Compare not only results but also outputs, particularly as you change one to test for effectiveness.

5. Refine accordingly

Data only is valuable if you put it to work. Not using it is like going to the shooting range and not cleaning the gun or setting the scope before firing. Use the data! It’ll produce more of a return if it’s assigned a quantifiable value and used to inform efforts.

6. Repeat

PR measurement and refinement never end. Efforts only improve as you keep a watchful eye on them. Don’t get lulled into complacency. Stay on top of things. Know when an effort has failed to hit its mark.

Also review audience profiles regularly. Patterns of behavior change. Don’t be alarmed; digital and social tools evolve constantly meaning behaviors do, too.

Be on the lookout for new networks and content forms. Experiment with them. Pit them against previous campaigns and programs. Use the results to inform future initiatives.

Want to improve PR measurement? Click here for our Measurement Toolkit now!

Images: Jarrod Carruthers (Creative Commons)

Tags : measurement

Most Recent Posts

Cision Blogs Topics

  • Communications Best Practices

    Get the latest updates on PR, communications and marketing best practices.

  • Cision Product News

    Keep up with everything Cision. Check here for the most current product news.

  • Executive Insights

    Thought leadership and communications strategy for the C-suite written by the C-suite.

  • Media Blog

    A blog for and about the media featuring trends, tips, tools, media moves and more.

About Erin Feldman

Erin Feldman is the director of editorial services at Tenacity5 Media. When she isn’t researching, writing, and editing blog posts and white papers, she writes poetry and essays, draws her favorite Write Right character, and plans what art form to study next. She’s based in Austin, Texas and can be found on Twitter @erinmfeldman.