Updated: Oct 25
Public Relations (PR) is an age-old concept; since Ancient Greece, information has been tailored to influence the public’s opinion. With the advent of mass media in the last century, curating a crafted image of a brand, company, or public figure has become more important than ever, which is why PR has evolved into what it is today: a full-fledged, multifaceted industry.
Today’s PR industry primarily deals with promoting company news or events, quelling negative press, or simply maintaining one’s public image. Media coverage, crisis management, and community engagement are all examples of putting PR into practice.
These functions of PR make it essential for a public entity’s long-term success. Brands, political organizations, and public figures need to strategically engage with an audience so they can find common ground. How does this brand better my life; why should I support this campaign? PR attempts to answer these questions by persuading—not controlling—the opinions of its readers, watchers, listeners, or participants.
In a world of endless information and infinite sources to get it, PR has become more important than ever. But, in an ever-changing industry, how do its standards of measurement keep up? We’ve tackled this tricky subject so you can better understand PR’s evolving applications, the challenges of measuring them, and our own system of solving those problems.
1. What are common challenges of measuring PR?
a. The main challenge of measuring PR lies in the very definition of PR; a relationship is difficult to put into numbers.
Clients, and data in general, favor quantitative data over qualitative because, ironically, numbers are easier to define than words. However, this preference for quantitative data can sometimes overlook the fundamental objectives of collecting PR campaign data: to gauge shifts in the public’s perception and connection with a brand or its products, which numbers alone can’t measure. PR metrics like event attendance, mentions in the press, or media impressions, try to turn opinion into numbers, but that’s where we run into another challenge of measuring PR:
b. There are no consistent, industry-wide standards of the various PR metrics.
Which makes understanding the results that much more difficult. Along with the examples of PR metrics listed above, there’s message pull-through, share of voice, and brand recognition, along with a slew of others. A lack of consistency in measuring results can confuse clients, leaving them to possibly misjudge PR campaigns, especially in an evolving landscape of media outlets, which brings us to our final challenge:
c. The PR channel is continuously adapting.
Digital outlets and social media have begun to take center stage, while newspapers, print magazines, and television are on the periphery. The previously described challenges are exacerbated by this change from “old media” to “new media”; metrics are evolving, and interactions are becoming both more and less personal, allowing brands to reach different audiences in new ways. This provides opportunities for agencies, like TTC, to maximize the potential that the new PR landscape presents to their clients.
2. How does TTC mitigate these challenges of PR, so clients can better understand its importance?
Quantifying the public’s opinions into consistent, understandable metrics in a constantly evolving industry takes time, communication, and consideration of your PR campaign’s goals.
TTC communicates the entire process of a campaign throughout the PR funnel. Before we start activation, we define the metrics we will be using to our clients, so they understand how exactly we’re going to measure its success. For example, when pitching to members of the press, we set clear goals each step of the way:
i. Awareness and exposure to the press highlights how large of a reach each potential placement may have.
ii. Knowledge and understanding measures the number of press members who open or respond to a pitch.
iii. Consideration and evaluation takes into account the interest of a press member; did they attend the PR event, request more information, or ask for samples of our client’s product?
iv. Preference and advocacy considers the sentiment behind the press member’s messages; was it positive? Did it highlight specific key points of the product or brand?
These measurements help us quantify our relationships with members of the press, which allows clients to clearly see the success rate of a campaign from start to finish. That said, qualitative data is also considered, as we track message sentiment and record how many “Golden Egg” publications we receive. For us, a Golden Egg is any media publication with over one million monthly readers.
The various print and digital forms of media dictate which measurements we use; social media posts, impressions, and engagements have become staple metrics in measuring new media PR success, and we give our clients a detailed description of each before beginning a campaign.
The relationship between a brand, company, or public figure and its audience directly correlates with its success. While that sounds intuitive, utilizing the tools and strategies of a successful PR campaign takes careful consideration, but yields enormous return.
We hope our thoughts helped you understand the importance of PR and the advantages of investing in it. If you’re looking to definitively measure your results, we’re happy to partner with you! Please reach out to us at email@example.com