• How do you know your PR is working? And if it's not, how do you make it work?

    How do you know your PR is working? And if it's not, how do you make it work?

    This is a question that rumbles on and on in the PR world. It’s something that business people I talk to often ask. And the answer?

    Well, it’s about getting as much media coverage as you possibly can (the thicker the folder the better) and then working out how much that media space would have cost to buy as an advertisement, right?

    And if you’re not happy with the figure you get at the end of that calculation, it’s about working even harder to get even more?

    No! I would suggest that advertising equivalent values have no place in your evaluation. They really won’t tell you anything much.

    Don’t get me wrong, outputs are important. And by outputs, things like the number of media hits, the number of retweets, the number of people attending your events, the number of meetings secured with relevant politicians, and so on, should be included. Measuring the impact of your PR means that you will want to know that you are producing lots of activity.

    But that is not enough. Your meetings with politicians might have gone badly. Your media coverage might have been negative. The people retweeting your tweets might have no followers.

    So your measurement of outputs has to go beyond just volume. It should also look at content. Is the media coverage communicating the right message? It should also look at relevance. Is the media outlet my content is in, or the person retweeting my tweet, reaching the right kind of people? It should also look at prominence? Is my coverage on the front page or is it buried at the back?

    But again, this isn’t enough.

    The most important measure of your PR will be whether it is achieving what you ultimately want it to achieve. Has it contributed to an increase in your sales? Has it boosted your employee morale the way you intended? Has it changed perceptions of people in the local community about your business? Has it resulted in big companies taking you seriously and giving you the opportunity to pitch to them? Has it brought you to the attention of multiple supermarkets and led them to seek a meeting with you? If not, then you need to change your approach.

    The only way to really understand if your PR is working is to have a clear idea of why you’re doing it and then measuring if you are achieving what it is you are trying to achieve. So set your objectives, have a strategic plan, create your activity with a view to achieving your objectives (if you are trying to grow your customer-base in Ballymena, there is no point in being in the Derry Journal, is there?), and then measure if your activity is working. This doesn’t have to be overly complicated or sophisticated. But it’s very important. It’s the results and only the results that really count.

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