By Meghann Johnson, Regional Manager, Business Wire Chicago
As 2014 winds down, the question on top of everyone’s mind is “what can I do differently in 2015?” From tackling new projects to finishing the old, New Year’s resolutions allow us to refocus, reset and rethink our approach, hopefully inspiring some positive change along the way.
So, as PR professionals, what should be our biggest resolution in 2015? Very simply: make measurement the No. 1 priority! Below Business Wire outlines six measurement resolutions that EVERY communicator should adopt, and stick to, throughout the new year.
Set objectives…and be OK with missing them: The idea of setting specific, measurable objectives can strike fear in the hearts of even the most seasoned PR professionals. As communicators, our programs can often be difficult to track, especially when considering the dramatic impact that WOM (word of mouth), social media and digital has had on our industry. But without setting benchmarks and working toward them, PR practitioners can be left with only a handful of data points, or worse yet, find themselves scrambling at year-end to account for their progress. Even by falling short of your intended objectives, continuously measuring throughout the year will provide chances to adjust your programs and offer insightful ways to improve in the following year.
Break down the silos: Savvy PR professionals tie their communication program metrics to their company’s own key performance indicators (KPIs). This approach is important as it aligns PR with developing direct, benchmarked results for the company. For example, if your organization is running a corporate initiative that’s intended to: 1) drive sales 2) raise brand awareness 3) position corporate spokespeople, it’s best to understand what your organization’s objectives are first and then showcase how PR drives towards them. One way to align with corporate KPIs is to compile the anticipated takeaways from a PR announcement and then rate each article/placement on a scale (1, 2, 3) of how well the piece reflected these three key takeaways. Note: This type of system works best when initiated across all PR efforts for consistency.
Think beyond the “pickup”: There’s no denying that editorial coverage is a highly sought after component of every PR program. But, with 84% of audiences making decisions based on WOM, building brand awareness and activating the right audiences can be just as beneficial as landing that coveted Wall Street Journal placement. Additionally, audiences are seeking content in new places, whether that be a company’s own social channels or website; therefore, it’s important to connect with your web teams or online community managers before, during and after an announcement or campaign launch in order to measure how traffic and views have been influenced by your efforts.
Be the journalists’ publicist: When thinking about your PR efforts, remember, media measure too! Journalists are rated on the number of views to their article and time on site, so if your organization gets covered, be sure to promote the news…and then promote it again. Ultimately, the more traffic your team can generate by sharing the piece, the more likely a journalist is to write on you again. Think of it as recycling content and reusing it to your benefit.
Let data be your guide: At the recent PR News Measurement Conference in November, David Rockland, Managing Director of Global Research at Ketchum, said about PR, “We are a data rich industry, but analytics poor.”
While there are countless ways to measure PR functions, the hardest part is to contextualize the metrics to make them make sense. One question we often receive at Business Wire pertains to our own NewsTrak reports. For example, what is the significance of press release views or link clicks? Truly, this metric can vary in significance depending on the goal of your program. Did you issue a release to garner media coverage? If so, how many journalists covered it? Or, were you trying to gain visibility and followers to your twitter feed by adding a hyperlink in your release? If yes, check how many people clicked on that link (provided within Business Wire’s report) to see if there is a correlation to the release and an uptick in followers. These seemingly arbitrary numbers can offer far greater insight if there are clear objectives established beforehand or if the PR team is gathering information across various channels.
Use the right tools: There are countless free and paid tools available to help with any measurement program so be sure to use them! Google Analytics is a great place to start. More and more companies use this platform the measure their efforts across Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned (PESO) channels. One simple way to effectively measure press release impact is to add a Google URL tracker to any hyperlinks within the text, which will subsequently track every time someone clicks on the link. Similarly, your team can monitor which information/link generated the most click-thrus and then promote that same info across other channels.
What’s your number one PR resolution in 2015? Share it via the BusinessWired blog or tweet us directly @BusinessWire. And as always, you can contact us directly to learn more about any of these topics.