How Can We Measure This?

This post was first published by Sarah Love on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.

PR measurement has been a hotly debated topic for almost as long as PR has existed, and it seems that every marketing and PR professional has their own way to define success. Is it coverage? Number of sales leads? How happy your CEO is? And even if you are able to define the result of a successful PR campaign – how can you measure which sales leads came from PR? Continuing our Lunch and Learn series at March, today Managing Partner Cheryl Gale talked about this long-standing point of contention in the PR world and how to measure the success of our work.

Historically there has been a strong focus on measuring by numbers – how many interviews, how many pieces of coverage and (more recently) how many Facebook Likes. But, as Cheryl explained, focusing only on quantities without regard to the outcome does not accurately measure PR efforts. Therefore, it is extremely important that context is taken into consideration rather than assuming that all press is good press. For example, a campaign that measures how many mentions a company received may reflect strong results, whereas a contextual analysis of the focus, prominence and resonance of this coverage may reveal that not only are many of the articles negative, but those that are more positive are in obscure publications.

In the end, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone measures success differently. For some, it comes down to the bottom line and want to see an increase in sales leads. Others are focused on maintaining a positive standing in the public eye. And still others are unknown and simply want name recognition – no matter what people think of them! But the takeaway here and the lesson that the PR industry as a whole (as well as our clients and partners!) must learn is that measuring success should be a holistic process that focuses not on outputs but on outcomes.

How do YOU measure success?

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