Published: Dec 10, 2014
Last Updated: Dec 3, 2017

Tech PR firms have long struggled to provide their clients with hard proof of a campaign’s success. Measurement strategies such as Advertising Value Equivalencies and circulation numbers were the only options for a long time. The rise of Big Data and analytics, however, is changing that.

 Technology such as marketing automation and Customer Relationship Management software allows you to track every piece of coverage and lead that comes as the result of a PR campaign. The rise of social media has made it easier than ever to see exactly who is interacting with your brand. You just have to make sure that you’re measuring your PR efforts as effectively as possible. 

Use Data to Inspire Campaigns

One of the most important responsibilities a PR agency has is creating brand messaging that resonates with different audiences. This is impossible without data. If you don’t understand what an audience expects from a brand, you won’t be able to build a campaign that speaks to those expectations. 

Before you start mapping out a campaign, make sure you understand what you need. The best way to do this is to look at past campaigns. Analyze what worked and what didn’t. If you have a marketing automation platform or CRM software, compile reports that contain engagement metrics. Once you’ve got a good idea of what your audience responds to (and what it doesn’t), you’ll have a good foundation to build a campaign. 

Setting Specific Goals Yields Better Data

As you’re preparing to launch your campaign, it’s important to establish what goals you want to meet. This is a crucial step because what you decide now will impact whether or not your campaign is viewed as successful (and, more importantly, whether or not your boss gives you the budget to perform future campaigns). 

Instead of choosing generic goals, challenge yourself. Don’t just aim for media coverage; pick three or four top publications you want to receive coverage from. Also, make sure your goals and objectives include the following:

  • Reach – Who do you want to engage with?
  • Awareness – What are you promoting?
  • Comprehension – What message are you sending?
  • Attitude – What do you want your audience to feel?
  • Behavioral – What do you want your audience to do? 

Analyzing the Results

Once you’ve launched your campaign, you’ll need to keep track of the results you’re generating on a regular basis. Make sure that you’re only reporting on results that relate to your goals. If you pull every number in your Google Analytics account or your marketing automation platform, it will be too easy to get confused or sidetracked. 

When it’s time to compile your report, look for trends that could identify why you achieved (or failed to meet) your goals. This is especially important if the results aren’t what you hoped, because it can help you justify the needs for future campaigns to your boss. If you simply present him with an underwhelming report, he’s less likely to support similar projects. If you can show him what you’ve learned, and how you’re using that information to improve your strategy, you should be more likely to get approval for other campaigns.

Let’s say your boss wanted you to increase social media followers by 20 percent during Q4. Looking at the results, you realize that, even though you didn’t meet your goal, you added twice as many followers on days you posted about a new blog as days you didn’t. You could use this data to suggest increasing the number of company blogs you publish.

It’s also important to consider what’s happening outside of your company when reporting on your campaign. Many people are off work towards the end of the year or during the summer, which could account for decreased website traffic. Similarly, you might experience higher-then-normal web visits during certain industry events. IT security companies, for example, might experience a spike in traffic after a major data breach as interest in the topic increases. Taking this into account will help you explain discrepancies in your month-over-month or quarter-over-quarter reports. 

Incorporating data and analytics into your PR measurement strategy is a great way to prove the value of your agency or department. The most important thing to remember is to not get overwhelmed by the numbers. Take the time to look at the results you’re generating on a regular basis and to identify the causes of those results. This, in turn, will help you create more targeted, more effective public relations campaigns in the future.

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About the Author

Scott Baradell
Scott Baradell
Trust expert Scott Baradell is CEO and founder of Idea Grove. Idea Grove helps its clients secure trust at scale through its unique Grow With TRUST approach. Scott is an established authority on trust and editor of the online publication Trust Signals, as well as author of the upcoming book Trust Signals: Brand Building in a Post-Truth World. Idea Grove celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2020, earning honors including the 2020 Pegasus Award for Small Agency of the Year, being named a Top 200 B2B service provider by Clutch, and ranking in the top 25 tech agencies in the U.S. by O'Dwyer's. Scott has an Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America and speaks on PR and marketing topics at industry events nationwide.

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