Opinion

How should we be measuring PR value?

Yesterday at Mumbrella360 a panel of top practitioners discussed the modern face of PR measurement, and the challenges of measuring the effectiveness of public relations when reporting back to clients.

The rise of social media and changes to traditional media wrought by the internet are forcing PRs to be more adaptive then ever before when determining value for their clients, but is the traditional way of measuring it dead? 

Annalise Brown, managing director, Porter Novelli Sydney, Caroline Catterall, founder, Keep Left , Andrea Kerekes, CEO and co-founder, access PR, and Patrick Baume, group communications manager, iSentia

Annalise Brown, managing director, Porter Novelli Sydney, Caroline Catterall, founder, Keep Left , Andrea Kerekes, CEO and co-founder, access PR, and Patrick Baume, group communications manager, iSentia

Yesterday’s panel, moderated by Paul Merrill, editor-in-chief, Bauer Media real-life magazines, saw Annalise Brown, managing director, Porter Novelli Sydney, Caroline Catterall, founder, Keep Left , Andrea Kerekes, CEO and co-founder, access PR, and Patrick Baume, group communications manager, iSentia, tackle the issue.

What has become unfashionable, it was universally agreed is the practice of calculating the literal ad value of PR – the practice of simply adding up the equivalent ad spend of PR placement on behalf of a client, which has tended to be the industry default for measuring PR value.

“There’s two fundamental reasons why that’s not a good way to evaluate the effectiveness from a public relations perspective,” said Brown.  

“One is using an advertising cost metric against something which is completely different and the second is that it does not take into consideration the the power of influence and the effectiveness of that for a brand or product.”

Catterall says there is no one perfect way for all PR agencies to measure value.

“I think we’re all on a journey, I don’t think there is a same way, or there is no way, and I think we are all trying to work out what is the best way.”

“We’ve come up with something a bit different we have been trialling for the last six months or so and what it is is a points based system or a score card that will be used to measure the effectiveness or impact of the results that we generate rather than focusing more on pure media relations.”

“So what we’re focused on doing is not only looking at the volume of results, because there’s a big focus on AVE, volumes are important but the quality matrix are much more important.”

Kerekes says it’s often about giving a dollar value to clients that don’t always understand the nature of PR created value.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in the industry who would agree that (equivalent ad spend) is ‘the’ measure, but I think it’s a measure that if a client jumps up and down till their blue in the face and says ‘My board demands a dollar figure’ then you have to do that and I think it’s educating the client but that’s the bottom line.”

Baume pointed out iSentia has run a qualitative analysis for clients for the last 13 years, adding: “Really the first principle of this is that PR communications is about content.

“Any solely quantative measure like click counts doesn’t really tell you anything.”
 
iSentia measures quality using human analysis rather than just clicks, likes and retweets said Baume

Robert Burton-Bradley

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