Six guidelines for measuring the success of a modern PR campaign

  1. 1. Without clear objectives, evaluation is pointless

In conceiving a modern public relations campaign, it is crucial as a first step to set out clear, agreed objectives between the client and the agency.


Those PR and marketing objectives will differ case by case because of the nature of the campaign and the most relevant chosen delivery channels to achieve them, but they should always loop back to the client’s overall business objective.


The agreed measurement of any campaign will need to reflect these specifics each time, rather than a one-size fits all approach.


  1. 2. Make measurement about outcomes not outputs

Rather than simply measuring outputs in numbers, we believe in measuring outcomes of the activity. The benchmark of a successful campaign isn’t how many press releases are issued over a given period, but how they are used, what they say and who they are reaching in which sectors.


Similarly, if we are running a social media campaign we will want to measure not only the volume of the demographic audience signing up or liking a campaign, but the value of the activity. We would look at how we are changing awareness, opinions, and purchasing behaviours where relevant.


  1. 3. Time to ditch outdated evaluation metrics

The measurement of a successful public relations campaign used to be Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE), the value attributed to the space generated by editorial in advertising terms.


Today this is not so relevant, and while this can still be used as an indicator it is more useful to measure such features as the opportunities presented to the target audience to see and act on the editorial using circulation and viewing statistics.


The response rate of enquiries as a result of the media coverage can also be measured. Another metric worth using here is the market penetration of the message, whether positive, negative or neutral and what message is being picked up. Of course, modern PR is about so much more than media coverage, which leads on to my next rule.


  1. 4. Squeeze every drop of data from digital channels

Many PR campaigns are designed to lead back to an organisation’s website. Google Analytics allows us to measure visitor numbers over any given period, and view this data against PR activity to measure its impact. This is useful in tracking activity in the campaign against the time of spikes in visitor numbers to the website to measure what is working and receiving a response.


Going deeper, it’s possible to find out more information, such as which pages or parts of the website are most successful in generating website traffic and affecting purchasing behaviour.


Social media channels also offer a vast amount of data about your target audience and whether your PR and marketing activity has been effective in raising awareness of a product or service, winning support for a campaign, or is starting to change purchasing habits.


Issuing electronic newsletters to a database of segmented customers is a more direct way of getting the message across, whilst providing links back to your website. At Freshfield, we are able to use software to show who is opening these e-newsletters and who is clicking and reading specific items of interest.


  1. 5. Focus on genuine emotion not just the hard statistics

Hard evaluation metrics are invaluable for providing intelligence upon which to make decisions.


However, creating a group of stakeholders throughout the campaign and referring back with a common set of questions about a service, product or issue gathers emotional as well as statistical evidence. Such focus groups can be valuable for many issues which need more anecdotal evidence to provide background and context. They may involve members of the media, employees and key customers.


  1. 6. Keep going back to objectives

Whichever is the chosen measurement criteria, it should be relevant to the campaign and the objectives agreed at the outset, rather than for the sake of it. I can’t emphasise this enough.


At Freshfield, we put great store by agreeing the objectives of any campaign up front, thereby making the agreed evaluation of it clear and meaningful for all concerned and measuring the value, not just the volume. We have created our own Evaluation Tool-kit, which encompasses the whole range of measurement techniques for modern-day communications.


If you would like to know more about how we can help you achieve your marketing communications objectives, just get in touch.


For more information, please contact Freshfield.