The Analytics of Public Relations
Public relations firms make their bread and butter on helping clients increase positive mentions and decrease negative ones, improving traffic to client sites, and generally helping companies get their message and product in front of the consumer in the best light possible. Many public relations (PR) firms spend the majority of their time generating ideas and campaigns, but very little time getting hard data to review the results of these campaigns. In order to truly focus your effort on your best strategies, it is key to be able to understand the true impact your campaigns are having.
Why use analytics?
Many PR professionals hate the idea of number crunching hard data. There is a great deal of data available, and it can be very difficult to distill it down to something understandable and manageable. However, using analytics in your PR firm can help you achieve three important goals. First, it can create accountability. It will be much easier to set goals for employees and understand how employees are performing if you have specific numerical goals for campaign results. It will also help the employees when they know exactly what they are trying to accomplish. Success can be a measurable objective.
The second important result that analytics can help you achieve is that you will be able to make data-driven decisions, instead of throwing money at ideas that simply sound good. It will help the bottom line of the firm tremendously to know exactly what results are being gained, and where they are coming from. Each campaign will be able to focus their efforts on the media avenues that are producing the best outcomes for a specific client, and money will not be wasted on less useful opportunities.
The final result that analytics can achieve for a PR firm is that it allows for meaningful reporting and analysis for management, shareholders, and potential clients. When you can produce a report that allows management to see numerically the impact of each campaign, it will be much easier for them to share with the stakeholders of the company how things are going and what new directions are opening up. In addition, potential clients will be able to see exactly what you have achieved for others, giving you a much greater chance of winning their business.
What should be analyzed?
As mentioned earlier, there is an enormous amount of data available that can be analyzed regarding both traditional and social media efforts. Keep the analysis simple and focus on a few key areas that are crucial to a given campaign or client. Some options include referral traffic to a site, percentage of positive, negative or neutral mentions in a given media arena, quality inbound links to a customer’s website, number of unique visitors to a website, or number of inquiries or sales that a particular site generates. The bottom line is to keep it clear, specific, and simple.
A PR firm cannot afford to simply put money toward good ideas. Good ideas can and should be measured so they can be focused, refined, and reported on. This will give your management, employees, stakeholders, and most especially potential clients’ solid information when they are looking at your firm.