This week I had the pleasure and the privilege of addressing the Future Communicators Accelerator event on the subject of PR measurement and it's future. It was an interesting event with a mix of in-house and agency folk from across the world. 

I was asked to speak on PR measurement, and what the future of this might look like. At Hotwire we absolutely believe that PR and its effectiveness not only CAN be measured but MUST be measured, and that measurement must be tied to tangible business objectives. And I've got a little bit of experience in the measurement industry, so this seemed like a good subject area for me.

Here is a summary of a few of the key points I made, which I hope are helpful: 

  • Measurement does NOT need to be expensive -  There are low-cost or no-cost ways of measuring the impact of PR at every step of the communication process and on each step of the sales funnel. From Google Analytics and other “native” analytics tools on your social channels, to Bit.ly to Moz to reports from your CRM system, if you have the tools and the understanding, you can easily and cheaply measure the impact of PR.
  • Focus on outcomes, and you'll get board buy-in – Measurement should focus on what’s actually happened as a result of your activity. Don’t focus on not outputs – the volume of activity such as press releases, articles, coverage etc. If you focus on and talk about outcomes, you’ll get more cut through with senior leadership.
  • PR measurement is a continual, ongoing process - The aim is to optimise and improve results as you execute campaigns, not just carry this out at the end of a campaign. Auditors “bayonet the dead”. Don’t let measurement merely be an audit of your activity, after the fact. Let it inform and improve at each step, as you go.
  • There will be an increased use of digital marketing metrics within PR measurement – more and more agencies are including Moz’s Domain Authority as a measure of “SEO impact” within coverage, for example. This will proliferate as agencies look for more ways to show an impact. Tools vendors will respond to this trend.
  • Measuring reputation in real-time is the area for development - Understanding the impact of news and events on reputation will becoming increasingly important to monitor and measure in as close to real-time as possible for large corporate. Vendors will need to step-up to meet this growing requirement, with big data technology, AI and business intelligence platforms all enabling this.

I probably missed a few, and this is by no means exhaustive, so always keen to hear thoughts from people in the industry.