PR pros everywhere have been consumed with how to evolve our counsel and practice in this post-truth era. While everyone is ramping up new styles for crisis plans and pivoting story lines, this new media landscape is also forcing us to change how we look at PR measurement.
Lucky for us, math is pretty immune to “alternative facts.”
That said, just as old school clip books and ad-value equivalencies have been (thankfully) replaced by more business-driven metrics, we need to rethink PR measurement again. To continue to add value - and prove that value - measuring PR in the post-truth era means integrating more data, shifting the view of competition and redefining what a PR “win” really is. After all, in a world where bots can aggressively inflate view/click figures and your most recent amazing feature article placement has a shelf life of a hot second - how much stock can you really put into “impressions?”
Control and define what you can The great thing about content, social and ‘owned’ media (like your company blog, newsletters, etc.) is that you can track activity directly to leads and even determine awareness levels. Open rates and click throughs on emails, path completions and conversions on a website, engagement and subsequent action on social posts - these are all things that can be measured via Google Analytics, trackable URLs and most email marketing tools. This data will help you measure efforts and inform strategy better than any impressions number or clip count. Bottom line, if you have control over tracking - use it!
Broaden your view In this new era, it’s important to expand your benchmark monitoring and analysis beyond your own brand and direct product/service line competitors. Remember, target audiences are still people and, when it comes down to it, you’re competing for their attention. Start tracking success by how well you create relevancy for your industry/product/service in the broader, mainstream world by thinking in terms of the end consumer. Expand media and social monitoring to include broader industry terms instead of just your company name and competitor names. Look for patterns in national media coverage and how it proliferates through trades and local media to better insert your story in a way that adds value.
Redefining a “win” Everyone wants to be on the cover of the New York Times, but will that one placement solve all your PR and marketing problems? No. It might help, for sure, but brands need to rethink what a “PR win” looks like - and do it with data. In terms of media relations, ask things like, “Which publications are effectively sharing content on social news streams and generating engagement?” or “What articles include backlinks that drive quality traffic and leads?” Thinking more broadly and always define your wins relative to business impact - be that sales, employee recruitment/retention, or investor interest, etc. An on-message, feature placement in a niche trade publication could have a stronger impact than a placement in a traditionally higher tier media outlet, but you’ll never know unless you check the performance data.