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A measure of success

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Public Relations can provide a real boost to the bottom line. Whether it is called upon to develop awareness of a brand, to influence a debate or to drive sales, PR can be a powerful driver of business growth. However, measuring this contribution often proves a challenge to many organisations because they don’t have the right measurement tools in place.

This makes it impossible to gauge the success of PR activity against broader objectives, and identify the return on investment. Indeed, without the right metrics, even those that commit considerable effort and investment towards PR can find themselves unable to demonstrate precisely what it achieves when confronted by the Financial Director or a Purchasing Manager.

Ultimately PR helps to promote, support and defend brands. In recent years there has been much debate around ‘brand equity’ – the measure of a brand as defined by the customer loyalty it commands, the level of awareness it enjoys, and the premium that consumers are willing to pay for its products.

Brand equity may be the most treasured possession for a company like Apple or Coca Cola, although there is disagreement in management circles about how – or indeed whether – a monetary value can be assigned to brand equity.

So, while organisations can measure elements such as customer sentiment, market position, sales reach and product competitiveness through focus groups, dedicated research and customer surveys, it’s hard to measure the value of a brand itself.

It follows that measuring PR activity, which of course makes a strong contribution to brand equity, would be equally difficult. But that’s not the case. The accurate measurement of PR activity is not rocket science, despite unintended efforts of many to confuse the subject.

For example, 2010’s ‘Barcelona Principles’ outlined seven key elements to PR measurement. They observed that “goal setting is important”, that social media “can and should be measured”, and that both “transparency and replicability” are “paramount” to sound measurement. This sounds reasonable, but what does it actually mean for those that simply wish to get a better sense of what their PR is doing for them? Where does one start?

Download our Passnotes and find out how to measure your PR activity.