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Beginning Measurement: The Big Questions

This post is by Information Retrieval Specialist Ann Feeney.

When it comes to media impact measurement–or any kind of impact measurement–knowing where to begin can sometimes be difficult. Therefore, it’s often helpful to ask yourself three short questions about a prospective campaign. These give you the answers you need to plan a project, measure its impact, and report the right information to the right people.

What’s our overall communications goal?
The secret here is to think big, long-term picture and remain specific at the same time. Start as close to your organization’s overall strategy as possible. One organization might want to communicate the benefits of a new software product to decision makers in Fortune 500 companies, in order to increase sales. Another might want to communicate a major differentiation point from a competitor in order to increase market share. A nonprofit might want to increase public awareness of its environmental campaigns in order to raise more funds for those campaigns.

How will we know if we’ve succeeded?
This step assigns numbers to the goal. For example, your company might make a certain amount in new sales, gain an additional five percent in market share, or raise ten thousand dollars to plant trees. Of course, while all of these are technically easy to measure, we’ve got the problem of separating out what was due to the communications campaign and what was due to other factors. Market share and sales, for example, depend on market variables, competitor variables, and buyer variables, and only one of those is buyer awareness of a new product or how one product differs from another.

What tools do we have to approximate how the campaign contributed?
With a very few exceptions, organizations can’t ask every buyer, potential buyer, or donor what made them make the choice they did. Or if they can, through surveys and polls, people don’t respond or their responses are biased by the survey design. And in some cases, buyers and donors aren’t always sure—our mental processes are often invisible to us. There are a few ways to use media monitoring to measure communications impact, depending on your budget and goals:

  • You can use sentiment analysis to measure how sentiment towards your product changed during and after a communications campaign. The advantage of this is that it’s straightforward and relatively easy to measure. If 30 percent of comments in the media were favorable about your product before the campaign, 45 percent during, and 40 percent favorable after, that’s an indication that your campaign was effective. It’s not foolproof because you can’t get rid of all of the other variables that affect sentiment, but it’s a strong indicator. If you have a long baseline of sentiment data, you can use statistical projections to measure the most likely direction of sentiment before your campaign and assume that the difference between the projections and the actual figures was due to the campaign. 
  • Another approach is to search for the terms related to a concept or message that you want to convey. For example, a company that wants to distinguish itself from competitors based on sustainable sourcing might search for references to the environment, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, or renewable resources in its coverage. If the proportion of coverage mentioning these concepts changes over the long term, that’s a sign that that the campaign is doing well.

Once you have the answers to these questions in place, you’re ready to launch and will have a better handle on what results to look for.

For lots more on PR measurement, join us in New York for AMEC Measurement Week presented by Cision and Vocus!

Tags : measurement

About Cision Contributor

This post was written by a guest Cision contributor.

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