People like the idea of results-based PR as they like to be able to measure how it provides a return on investment. In the past, we used to measure PR coverage by a unit called AVE. AVE meant “advertising value equivalent”. We simply measured the size of the article and looked to see what it would cost to buy an advertisement of the same size. It was very simple.
We also measured the results of our work by column inches in the printed publications. This was OK up to a point, but it didn’t measure how helpful an article was. If an article is negative, it can be exactly the opposite of helpful and not a good investment at all.
So there was always debate about the value of PR. Some people felt it could not be measured. It was difficult to know whether an investment in PR had been worthwhile.
Also, all publications were treated the same – there was no comparison of their credibility. In reality some titles are more respected than others and the audience is often very different when you compare publications that appear at first to be addressing the same readership.
Now with most publications appearing online, and most people becoming proficient with analytics, the measurement of PR has completely changed. The latest digital reporting tools for PR are amazing. Results-based PR is much easier to achieve now. You can create reports that show exactly what has appeared and where. You can see an influencer score for each publication. You can also see how many readers it has, and the number of people it reached. The number reached will often be higher than the number of subscribers.
You can also see how many links have been added, from the articles to your own website. The links are important for two reasons. First, they can bring traffic to your website, as referrals. Second, they indicate that your website is an important site on the internet. This makes the links valuable in marketing – they help to bring a website to a higher position in search engines.
This has been a huge change for the PR industry, which traditionally didn’t show the results of its work this way.
I would still say that you can judge a campaign by gut feel. If it feels good, that usually means that it has worked effectively. People generally know if something has been worthwhile, but the question is how to prove that on paper? Sometimes it helps to demonstrate results in terms of statistics and numbers.
Results-based PR is here
I am using a very effective PR reporting tool. From this, I can see that the campaign I worked on during January and February created very close to 100 articles. They reached around 300,000 people in the specialist electronics design markets. The campaign added 43 new back links to the company’s website. We can see pictures of the articles, showing the individual sites where each item appeared, and we can rank them in terms of their credibility within their industry.