How do we meet KPIs in PR? #CommsChat

By Sam Mohr

On Monday night in the heat of our London office, following a glorious #CheekyNandos, some of the Jargon team sat down to get involved in an evening of Twitter debate with the lovely people at Comms Chat.

As we lead the discussion from the Jargon PR Twitter account, it bought up some interesting questions and thoughts about KPIs that we wanted to share. Key performance indicators (KPIs) for outcomes have always been traditionally quite difficult to judge in PR. Clients always ask, what difference is my coverage making; where is the value?

The industry has largely rejected the old means of measurement, Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE), because it fails to actually reflect quality of content and key message penetration. There still appears to be little consensus on a single potential replacement.

The issue is, that the value of coverage is dependent on so many things. There are so many questions to ask, often unique to each business. Who’s reading it? How many people are reading it? What key messages are in it? Is it positive?

Our first question therefore dealt with, how we can measure success in campaigns. There were some interesting opinions, and it became clear that some believe calls to actions and split testing allows for real measurement, but again, this approach clearly doesn’t work for everyone.

Our own approach depends very much on the client. We tend to be much more focused on quality than quantity of coverage, but we use a variety of means to judge success, from number of new business leads generated through to measuring perception pre and post campaign.

The debate gradually moved on to examine return on investment, and how it can be demonstrated clearly. Too often do businesses approach PR with the aim of just getting coverage. There needs to be an aim behind the coverage that align with the businesses goals, such as raising awareness, building brand recognition, or driving sales. That way, when a campaign is complete a business can look back and see that their aims have been achieved, and therefore see the value in the PR.

Discussions even progressed to talking about the similarities between PR and content marketing and how they work together. Every client is different, so it was really interesting to see how other PRs are measuring and demonstrating their successful results.

It was a great debate to take part in and we were delighted to be selected to lead it, recognising Jargon’s expertise. It also confirmed to us the importance of personalising our campaigns to demonstrate the fantastic work we do for our own clients.

If you want to read more, there is a transcript of the chat available on the Comms Chat website here.