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How to measure PR success

What can PR do for your business?  Whilst not a direct sales driver PR is a great tool for raising awareness, securing your brand identity, increasing peoples confidence in you and it should support your other marketing activities.

This is all great but how do you measure it’s success?  When you’re running a small business often any penny of your budget and every second of your time counts and you want to be sure that you’re spending it in the right place.  Whether you’re doing your own PR or hiring somebody to support you in it here are some ideas for how you can track the success of what you’re putting out there.

Back in the day when I first started out the main way people measure the success of a campaign was based on Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE), this was where we would measure the space the piece was given (yes, physically measure) and work out how much that would cost if it was a paid for ad.  But, times have moved on and it’s been recognised that there is more to PR than just being cheaper than advertising.

But those days are long gone and there are a number of metrics that you can use to measure how successful your media coverage is and it doesn’t have to cost a thing.  Is it quality of the coverage?  When it comes to PR quality not quantity is important.  Whilst it might be nice to see your name in loads of publications  it won’t help your brand if your audience isn’t looking or listening.  So monitor where you’re getting coverage.  The same goes for regional and national coverage, if your product or service is something that people purchase in person e.g you own a physical shop, you only work with local clients then regional coverage can be more beneficial than national.

Is the coverage you’re getting communicating your key messages?  As a business you should have a few messages that you want to get out there consistently.  Check that the coverage you’re getting is conveying some of these messages.

Is what is being said positive, negative or neutral?  Some say all publicity is good publicity and whilst there might be some truth in that obviously good publicity is the best.

And, really important are they actually mentioning your brand and including any vital information, for example if you’re trying to increase traffic to your website is the address in the story or if your hosting an event are the time, date and venue included.

There  agencies you can use to monitor media coverage and do the analytics for you but this is a good place to start if you have a limited budget.  Remember to set up Google alerts and maybe sign up to the Readly app (which gives access to 1000’s of newspapers and magazines) so you don’t miss any coverage.

Rebecca Slater is a PR Consultant with more than 20 years public relations experience. She is based in Staffordshire and provides support to businesses all over the country.

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