If your company continues to measure public relations success in volume…only by collecting media clips or by adding up agate lines in newspapers and magazines (or seconds of TV time)…you may be significantly under or overestimating the impact of your communications.
The first step is to evaluate the quality of exposure in conventional media. While quantity of exposure is important; quality is critical. One positive mention in the right publication may be more valuable than 10 mentions in lesser publications. Your measurement system should take this into account.
That being said, however, these conventional measurement tools completely ignore the evolution of public relations as it converges with social media and how it now plays a more central role in your marketing plan overall.
A mention in one highly influential blog may deliver far more impact among your target audience than a story in a national newspaper. But it is a rare company that has begun to perceive it that way. And fewer still have integrated YouTube “hits”, Facebook “likes” or Twitter followers into meaningful metrics for measuring PR effectiveness. Of course they should. But how?
The Web (via computers, tablets, mobile devices, etc.) provides a variety of new ways to communicate with and engage our audiences. And each company must find a way to measure the relevant impact of numerous outlets to its business.
For example, in additional to conventional media exposure, you should be measuring (to name a few):
how many people “like” you on Facebook
how many people subscribe to your blog
how many people sign up for your newsletter
how many people share your posts
how many positive comments your posts gather
how many negative comments your posts gather
how many unique users visit your group in social media
how many people follow you on Twitter
how many people subscribe to your webinars
how many people participate in your webinars
how many people stay to the end of your webinars
how many people download your e-books
how many people download your sales materials
how many people download your videos
how many people download your presentations
how often bloggers write about your company or products
how often bloggers write about your executives
how often bloggers write about your competitors
how your company and products rank in search results
how many people are engaging with your company on Facebook or other social media sites
how many requests for information you receive
how many people “check-in” online at your locations
Only by merging all appropriate metrics will you achieve a true picture of the impact of your public relations and social media marketing.
Though there will be many common features to every measurement system, there is no one-size-fits-all. Each company has to weigh the quality of each input to create an appropriate and meaningful custom-tailored system…not a simple task.
Most important, however, we must acknowledge that the rules of the game have changed. And we must resist applying old marketing metrics to measure our new marketing reality.