Back in January, I wrote about some of the experiential marketing trends for the upcoming year; one of which, was the importance of proving ROI. It was no surprise, as the year progressed, we found ourselves even deeper into a recession. Companies in response, have tightened their budgets and now more than ever the demand for substantiating ROI sits firmly on event marketer’s shoulders.
Because I’m in the event business, I’m always on the look-out for interesting reading about trends that impact the industry—especially ROI. Of late, I was reading a tip sheet that was put out by Cision—a leading global media intelligence company. The tip sheet was entitled, How to Replace AVE for Modern PR Measurement. And, I quite like how Cision positioned measurement and what communicators can do to drive better results for their clients—so I thought I would share their insight with you.
Cision Tip Sheet
- Decide what you need to measure.
Shonali Burke, public relations and social media expert and consultant, says the first step in measuring PR is to “figure out what you’re trying to do.” Decide on objectives and goals that align with business outcomes. They naturally lead to relevant metrics.
- Know what is and isn’t ROI.
“AVE is not ROI,” says KC Brown, general manager of Cision Global Insights. “It’s a metric provided by service providers. It has no established currency value.” Then what is ROI? Return to the standard formula. You should be able to give a quantifiable return, not just the cost of media space or number of impressions. Look at earned and paid media. Which efforts move brand objectives forward? They are where true ROI lies.
- Establish general and specific metrics.
Because objectives are brand-specific, metrics should be determined on a “case-by-case basis,” says Burke. But you can generalize when first starting out. She adds: “If you’re just embarking in PR, you’re likely to focus on awareness metrics. They show if you’re gaining a foothold with the audience. Once you’ve gained it, now what? You have to move beyond awareness and general education. What do you want it to lead to? Advocacy? Leads?”
- Start small.
You don’t need a huge budget to get started with measurement. Begin with a single campaign. Treat it like a controlled experiment. Change one output, and then observe the outcomes. Use data to ask for a larger budget—not to increase PR activities, but measurement. More measurement means more knowledge, analysis and strategic insights. And the more you have of those three, the more capital you’ll get.
- Track as you go along.
Historical data is a precious resource. Use it to establish benchmarks and compare campaigns. At the same time, you still need to be able to respond in real time, so infuse every PR effort with measurement. “Isolate outputs at the outset,” says Burke. “Plan the program that way. With a good listening and measurement program in place, you’ll be able to respond to changing public sentiment, trends and other factors.”
- Implement a sustainable measurement program.
PR measurement must be replicable and sustainable to have long-term, positive effects. Embrace data. Create processes and procedures. Ensure that people follow them. When you do, not only will you get better data but also better efforts and results.
As 2015 draws to a close, it doesn’t appear that we will be moving out of the recession anytime soon. Therefore we will end the year, and begin 2016, with the emphasis on meticulous measurements strategies. Realistically, this trend is here to stay. Before I close, I would like to add, I believe it’s important to include your client in the discussion of ROI objectives and goals to ensure you are aligned before any project initiative goes to execution.