How to measure PR results

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It has become increasingly necessary for PR practitioners to demonstrate the value and success of their efforts. But how do you measure the results of an effective campaign? 

Successful PR campaigns come down to careful planning and setting clear objectives from the outset.

When determining objectives, it is important to consider the overall campaign goal, and to ensure the objectives are specific enough to be measured against the outcome. It is vital to clearly define what the public relations efforts set out to achieve, then work backwards from there. Campaigns with poorly defined or vague objectives are much more difficult to measure, and make it harder to demonstrate success to the client.

After setting objectives, it is equally as vital to ensure the communication tactics are measurable, and link back to the overall goal.  There is a tendency for some PR professionals to measure public relations outcomes using Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs). However, this is an archaic, outdated measurement tool for a number of reasons. Specifically, AVEs do not measure key aspects of the news coverage, such as the overall tone of the story, whether key messages are used, whether it mentions a competitor favourably, or how the coverage is positioned or presented.

The most effective way to measure the value of a public relations campaign is by using the ‘cost per contact/opportunity to see’ measurement.  This approach provides a dollar figure for the cost of each person who sees your message, and is found by dividing the total campaign budget by audience reach to show the cost per opportunity to see.

Nowadays, AVEs are typically used to measure marketing value comparisons, not public relations outcomes. Therefore, the cost per contact measurement is regarded by the industry as a more credible, transparent and useful alternative for evaluating PR campaigns and demonstrating success to clients.