The importance and value of Public Relations, or PR, is practically common knowledge today. Everyone from the biggest corporation to the smallest non-profit understands that managing your image and engagement–especially online–is critical not just to success, but to survival. But how can the effectiveness of online PR be measured? This infographic, produced by The George Washington University’s online Masters of Public Relations, explains.
For starters, it is important to distinguish between advertising and PR. A solid PR campaign can boost advertising, but advertising is no substitute for a comprehensive approach to PR. In this same vein, it is important to measure outcomes as opposed to outputs. For example, the number of Tweets you send is less important than, say, the number of retweets and followers they earn you. Measuring reach and engagement on social media is a worthwhile metric to follow in assessing an online PR campaign.
The Public Relations Society of America outlines five broad categories to watch and measure in order to assess online PR effectiveness: Engagement (how many people Liked, Shared, or otherwise interacted with an online post), Impressions (an estimate of how many people may have seen the post), Items (the number of blogs, posts, or other content that originates as digital), Mentions (when others start talking about your brand, product, etc. outside of your posts), and Reach (how long your content gets shared, earns traffic, or circulates online). By focusing on these core metrics, you can see where online PR succeeds, falls short, can be improved, and most importantly, can be replicated for future success.
Taking it a step further, the effect on bottom line business results should be measured wherever possible. Intrinsic to this is beginning any campaign with a clear, well-defined set of goals. By starting out with explicit goals, all outcomes can be measured in terms of whether or not they contributed to reaching those goals. When PR goals correlate with business results, then assessing the success and value of online PR activity comes naturally. Of course, there should always be one unifying goal behind every PR effort: to learn something.
By taking the time to lay out specific goals, and measure every element from social media to business results, you gain a better understanding of what works, what doesn’t, what provides the best return on investment, and how to run an even better campaign the next time around.