Whenever I see a headline offering to help measure PR ROI for clients, I get really excited and hope to learn something useful on such an elusive topic. To be able to quantify the work we do for clients in a real way would be extremely rewarding to the media relations discipline at large.
In the past, firm data has been largely absent with many PR pros showing clients what an ad buy (or Advertising Value Equivalent) would cost in the same outlet the client’s brand was featured in. While showing clients how expensive advertising in top tier media is (vs. paying a PR firm a monthly retainer to get inclusion for free in multiple outlets) indeed eye-opening, it’s not the same as showing how many eyes see the August issue of say, Shape Magazine, or the viewership of a specifc segment on Good Morning America. Comparing PR to the cost of advertising also isn’t an indicator of sales potential. If a brand’s $20,000 bicycle gets a mention in Shape Magazine and the ad value of the mention is $336,700*, it’s a pointless effort if the price range is out of reach for Shape’s readership.
So have we made strides in measuring PR ROI? Unfortunately where posts on measurement are concerned, the headline usually ends up being the most interesting part of – I’ll be honest – the fluff piece that follows. By fluff piece I mean the article is vague stating tips such as ‘you should measure coverage impact on a brand’ without sharing insights on how to do it. At Remark, we try and take an imperfect science and simplify the process of quantifying our media and social reach on behalf of our client’s brands. Below are three specific ways Remark measures ROI:
- Media Relations: In addition to overall unique monthly views (UMV) across an outlet, increasingly bloggers and digital media sites will often have number of reads, reach or shares on each article. When we receive coverage, It’s always interesting to take the number of reads from a specific post and compare to our clients’ resulting Google Analytics report to show how much traffic each piece drives to their site. From here PR pro’s can easily calculate the conversion rate from the number of shares or reads the article has garnered overall, coupled with it’s outlet’s listed monthly reach and finally compared to a brand’s site traction per outlet. We recommend cherrypicking a few media hits weekly to see which hits are driving the most traffic. Then figure out if the spikes in traffic are also correlating into spikes in sales and/or customer acquisition through app downloads. Interestingly, many of our clients report spikes similar to national coverage resulting from posts by smaller outlets with hyper-engaged audiences. Here the writer has devoted time testing the product or service, taking his or her own photography and videos to accompany the post and sometimes even introduces a use case for the product our client had never considered before. Not only does Remark often recycle these blogger insights into new pitches, we also tend to treat these folks like ambassadors, offering first looks at upcoming launches and news.
- Media Contests: Ah. The popular sister to any media review. If our client can spare product, we encourage giveaways as often as possible to pump up excitement and interaction from their target audience. After the contest ends, many bloggers will send over a recap of total engagement but you can also see how many entries a contest garnered and check out the comment thread by revisiting the post once the contest wraps. For example, one of our Consumer Product clients makes snacks for school-aged kids and is very generous about participating in blogger run contests. For the price of between $25 – $50 worth of snack prizes we can easily accumulate upwards of one thousand participants, each of whom increase their chances of winning by tweeting, pinning, sharing on FB, Google+, Instagram and commenting on the thread below the post… you get the point. During the contest’s run we ask the brand’s social team to track each channel and let us know if they also see a spike in followers and fans and overall activity on those platforms.
- Survey through Social Media: Just ask! We encourage established clients to put their social networks to work and a great first step is simply asking their fans and followers how they found out about the product/service/company. If the client can incentivize the audience by randomly rewarding a couple respondents with said product/service, there’s an even better chance at increasing feedback and engagement. And what better way to focus PR efforts than in the very places our clients gain the majority of customers. Going deeper into surveying an engaged audience, we encourage our clients to take quarterly polls of their fans, asking questions which help with say, R&D, and then we take the responses and turn them into infographics to share with media or brand studies to share with buyers. Using our snack client again as an example, we may ask their 30,000 Facebook fans how they ensure kids eat healthy while at school or how they pick snacks to include in lunch boxes. Then we distill the responses down into the top five or so categories and post these in infographic form back to our channels and provide them to the media as assets. The sales team can use these while calling on purchasers at supermarkets.
These are just a few examples on how we simplify a complicated and debated and surprisingly creative topic. Our team is constantly on the search for new best practice insights, so please, share your PR measurement strategies and exciting new technologies we may not have heard of. We look forward to being inspired.
*reference is from CisionPoint media database