Lessons in PR Measurement: 4 Ways to Keep Up with New Trends

Lessons in PR Measurement: 4 Ways to Keep Up with New Trends

PR is a profession that has always entailed verbal and written communication skills, but now also, increasingly, analytical skills. When you're planning campaigns and generating media, are you tracking your results and the associated data? Moreover, how can you get into the practice of considering your KPIs before you execute a campaign? In this post, Carolyn Mae Kim, Ph.D. shares with us some lessons to practice PR measurement.
Carolyn Kim
October 4, 2017

One of the most important relationships in PR is the cooperative one between public relations and journalism. That’s why most introduction to public relations courses includes an overview of media pitching and press releases. As part of a PR curriculum, students take a media relations course and often have the option of journalism electives.

Internships often reinforce these competencies. Many PR students start off in internships that involve media list compiling, entry-level pitching strategies, and rudimentary media relations. And though students are able to come away from those experiences and explain the impact of their work, they might not understand how to showcase their value.

Many PR veterans find themselves in similar situations as they look to keep up with the ways PR is measured. Even the most adept at pitching and placing coverage might be surprised as to how the industry has evolved in proving the ROI of this key activity. While some in PR still advocate for AVE, we need to move away from simply thinking that press clippings or advertising value equivalents as an effective way to see media placement. With today’s environment, media monitoring and measurement have become highly sophisticated.

It is no longer only about knowing what journalists are writing and when the coverage is published but now extends to tracking influencer reach in social media and understanding the sentiment of the audience that engages with and amplifies a story. As we see in more and more thought pieces regarding the PR industry, there are new and numerous metrics that can be used to evaluate media relations efforts.

Here are practical ways to illustrate the value of media placements:

Read Case Studies

Look for case studies that highlight the impact of a media relations campaigns. PR pros (and students alike) can learn from peers facing similar challenges in measuring their efforts and using data to optimize them. Real-world case study examples that are industry-specific can illuminate ways PR colleagues have used media monitoring to assist them in illustrating value.

Attend Professional Lectures

One of the best ways to help keep up with what others in the industry are doing with their media relations process is to see PR pros speak on the topic. Professionals who are willing to share about a media relations campaign, their PR measurement tools, while giving behind-the-scenes tips and strategies, can inspire both newcomers and veterans looking to understand new trends. Meetups, PRSA, Creative Mornings, and other niche communities offer an opportunity to hear professionals speak about their process. PRSA has local chapters that meet monthly and an annual event that draws PR pros from all stages of career development and industries.

Sign Up for Platform Training

Once you know the of their impact of media relations efforts, the next step is figuring out how to do it with integrity. Hosting a training on ways that media efforts may be evaluated can cover this. Remember to discuss historic approaches like AVE, and also explore the tools that enhance analytic efforts today. Depending on what tools you have available; practicing monitoring media placements, evaluating reach and sentiment, or even creating professional reports can incorporate modern PR metrics that the C-suite would approve of.

Put Ideas into Practice

Of course, for those already working in PR, nothing can beat the experience of working on a client’s media relations campaign to see the full cycle of strategizing, planning, pitching, carrying out, and evaluating the impact of a campaign.

When you’re in the planning process, make sure that you know what KPIs you’ll track and what counts as success. Going over what metrics you will measure and having the process in place before you begin the campaign can ensure you have the information you need. 

Before tracking your impact, specify the level of evaluation, length, and depth you want in your final campaign report. Consider having at least one review meeting with stakeholders to make sure the data you’re tracking and metrics you’re compiling are the ones that are important. This allows time to revise and really gather the most relevant data before you’re in the midst of carrying out the campaign.

As PR moves to data-based KPIs, understanding how to evaluate metrics for media relations takes time. It is more than an after-thought when you complete a campaign, it should be woven into all PR strategy from the get-go. In doing so, we are modeling for colleagues and PR students that PR holds high standards. We are accountable to report on our initiatives. This gives us the opportunity to showcase the role of public relations, the value it brings to an organization, and the impact of the work done. Knowing the value of data-based PR campaign reporting is a foundation that should underpin all future communication campaigns. And, it prepares us to be PR leaders wherever we are in our career trajectory.