Measuring publicity results is considered one of America’s great past times. Organizations love to know how well their news releases performed. They love clips and clip reports and pass-along readership impression numbers and the previously mentioned advertising value equivalencies. They love metrics and dashboards and infographics.
But in this data-driven world we live in, even that is not enough. The marketplace wants to know what their ROI is on the publicity expenditure: How did the publicity campaign result in achieving or at least influencing increased sales?
The only truly effective want to initiate the process of effectively measuring and evaluating publicity results is to set realistic and tangible goals at the outset. Whether you are planning to develop and distribute a single news release or launch a comprehensive publicity campaign, complete with a news conference and deskside editorial meetings, you must, must, must establish expectations before you get started.
This sounds pretty obvious, I know, but it rarely ever happens. Practitioners are so quick to pull the tactic trigger, they often neglect to document objectives. But rest assured, at the end of the initiative, your client will want to know how well the campaign worked, and it will not be acceptable to say “really good; we got lots of hits.”
You need to get granular. Is your goal to create/increase awareness? If so, among what audiences and how much over what time period? Is your goal to drive traffic? If so, where to and to do what? Is your goal to secure sales? If so, how much and in which markets and among which demographics?
In order to determine if your publicity worked, you need to determine up front what you expect your publicity to do. Once you and your boss or you and your client are on the same page, you can start thinking about strategies and tactics, and then you can set yourself up to effectively measure and evaluate results.
The very first thing you want to measure and evaluate in relationship to any publicity project or program are your deliverables. Your media database (traditional and digital), your media materials (news releases, fact sheets, backgrounders, photos and videos), your channels/sources of distribution (direct mail and email, paid and free distribution services, in-person presentations) and your media follow-up (telephone calls, meetings, emails).
Did you do all the things you needed to do in order to be successful? Did you do them all strategically, creatively, aggressively, thoroughly? Does your media database include all the target media you need to reach in order to achieve your goals? Does it include digital and traditional outlets? Does it include influential bloggers? Do you have direct email addresses for all your contacts? Is your lead news release engaging and on-point? Did you follow-up with priority media contacts and offer them more of a story, including images and videos and interviews with key company personnel?
If you can say yes to all this (and more), you are off to a good start… but it is only the beginning.
(In Part Three, we will finally talk about metrics and analytics)