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June 5, 2013

What online PR campaigns can teach us about measurement and ROI

It’s no secret that the traditional PR measurement model is woefully ill-equipped to deal with today’s integrated online PR campaigns, and new, data-driven methodologies have emerged to effectively tackle social media PR.

However, while traditional agencies may still judge the success of a campaign on ‘equivalent advertising value’ or a nebulous ‘PR value’, an understanding of digital PR gives us the opportunity to measure almost every facet of a campaign, and crucially, start making that all important link to ROI.

Not only that, but social media measurement techniques give us the opportunity to apply a new analysis framework to traditional PR campaigns, in doing helping drive forward the industry as a whole. Online PR

This debate is not unique to PR; in every marketing discipline, there exists a lively hotbed of opinions and views into how to best measure a campaign, and more importantly, how to effectively demonstrate ROI. And rightly so. We also like a good debate here at Prohibition PR, so it’s really music to our ears.


Analytics

A starting point should be a good working understanding of Google analytics. If your team doesn’t know what this is then they’re in the wrong job. Set up goals so that you can track conversations, whether that’s a sale, a sign-up or some other strategic imperative. Each piece of media coverage you generate should contain a link, if it doesn’t then ask yourself is it really benefiting the client? A half page in a national might do wonders for brand awareness (and probably will result in some sales you can never prove to your client) but chances are a blog post with a useful link will drive far more conversions for you and you can then track these.

Conversions to sales

Also get a good understanding of your client’s conversion rates. Based on average conversions and basket size, how much of the traffic you’re directing to the site could be resulting in a sale? What’s the value of this and how does it compare with the investment your client’s made in PR?

Similarly, find out how much your client is investing in online media spend and PPC. Calculate an average CPC and cross reference with the traffic you’re driving their way.  Suddenly you’re in a position when you can attribute a monetary value to your activity. Cost per Click is great but cost per acquisition is even better.

This is only scratching the surface, and we’re not going to reveal all of our techniques here (you have you be a client or a friend to benefit from that). But as an industry we need to be more honest with ourselves, especially when it comes to working with brands that are prominent online – are we getting media coverage for the sake of getting media coverage because it has always been our currency, or are we helping them achieve real business results?

While of course, PR and social media is not usually a direct response mechanism in the way that e-commerce or direct mail is, that’s not to say we can’t still be accountable for the services we deliver. In fact as an industry we should strive for this, for the benefit of our whole industry otherwise we could be left behind the digital and SEO Agencies.

Image credited to Stuart Miles, thanks very much via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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