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The 2024 Cision and PRWeek Global Comms Report

Find out how 400+ PR and comms leaders worldwide are approaching the way they work in today’s media landscape.

4 (More) Expert Tips for Measuring the Impact of PR

In case you missed our recent webinar, Making Metrics Matter: Building a Strategy for Impactful PR, we discussed everything from building a measurement strategy that meets your specific goals, to which metrics are the most important to prove the power of PR.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to get to everyone’s questions at the end, so as promised, we’re following up on them here. We put together the biggest questions people asked and asked Cision Chief Product Officer Jay Webster to weigh in.

1. How well do you think PR professionals are adapting the methods and principles for measurement and evaluation?

Jay Webster: Generally speaking, PR pros are adapting to new methods of measurement as well as any other group of professionals immersed in a dynamic industry, where the only constant is change. 

Across our industry, you’ll observe a familiar division of cohorts along the continuum of early adopters to the very conservative (and everything in between). It’s incumbent upon us in the technology business to enable new metrics and measures for the PR industry, make them easily understood, easy to implement, and adaptable to change. 

As the need and demand for new kinds of measurement increases, so shall adoption.

2. When the C-suite wants PR to behave like performance marketing, how are we aligning our metrics to the immediacy of expectations driven by this channel?

I personally don’t believe this is a great idea. There are certainly times where it’s appropriate to plan, work to achieve, and measure results as close to real time as possible.

Examples are crisis management or a game-changing product launch. In either situation, you’d want to track the results of your efforts in the very near term. More generally though, PR is specifically differentiated from paid performance models. It seems counterproductive to try and jam earned media into the real-time cohort of performance media.

However, there is a role for earned media in the longer time scale of performance marketing efforts, it just depends on how you view the role within your organization. Content marketing as part of an ongoing earned media strategy is the gift that keeps on giving. A steady stream of high quality content, written to engage your target audience, has a significant impact on overall customer acquisition cost. 

The best performance models have tight coordination between paid and earned media, all supported by the measurement necessary to optimize both.

The best performance models have tight coordination between paid and earned media, all supported by the measurement necessary to optimize both.

3. You mention AVE (advertising value equivalency); it was my understanding that the industry was moving away from that [metric] since it was wildly inaccurate.

The practical applications for AVE seem somewhat limited, but similar to other metrics traditionally in wide adoption, AVE seems to hang on even if in decline. Measures should be chosen and aligned with the goals of your campaign efforts.

For example, in a crisis management situation, perhaps sentiment (sometimes referred to as tonality) is a better measure of success. If you are engaged in a new product launch, configure the campaign and user journey in a way where conversion metrics can be tracked full funnel (collect email as an expression of interest, place redirect tags to a purchase page, etc).

AVE as a metric could have application when attempting to make decisions about allocation of resources and effort, but in my opinion, better decision making comes from measuring outcomes rather than a comparison of CPMs.

4. What do you feel has been the most notable change to PR measurement over the past year-plus, when the world has been turned upside-down by COVID-19, among other major events?

I think one of the most notable changes is the move away from impressions toward engagement. As social media has consumed the PR practice as the most influential channel, it’s no longer just about likes and clicks, but rather involvement. Did readers take the time to comment on content? What was the average time spent on page, reading said content? Did you drive to your intended conversion? Did you really connect? Distribution channels have been democratized, and control of access to the public is more fragmented than ever.

In order to keep pace, the modern PR and communications professionals must adapt by embracing more sophisticated planning and measurement tools.