Once a PR strategy has been conceptualized, designed and implemented the next step is to assess. Assessment includes determining how effective or successful the strategy is. But how can companies measure the performance of their PR strategies?
Primarily, a PR plan’s success is best measured against the goals and objectives that were established during conceptualization. Essentially, a PR plan’s objectives should function as benchmarks for the assessment phase. In a nutshell, PR plans should be evaluated based on how close they come to meeting their objectives.
It is also good to have an assessment of the brand’s state before the PR plan is launched so that a comparative assessment can take place after PR strategies are implemented. This pre-launch assessment should include the brand’s current status in terms of popularity in the digital space as well as performance in terms of sales.
Experienced PR professionals know that the PR race is a marathon and not a sprint. It is therefore crucial that time is considered whenever a PR plan is being assessed. The results of a PR strategy don’t typically materialize immediately. In fact, results are expected to materialize a few weeks after launch; and in some cases proof of impact may not emerge until up to a year after the plan is activated. Measurement that takes place too soon could be erroneous. But when timed perfectly, the assessment results will be reliable.
The biggest indicator of a PR strategy’s success is market response. If people are talking about the brand (in positive ways) more than they did before, that is one indicator that the brand’s PR strategy is having a positive impact. Evidence of this can be retrieved from the digital world in the form of statistics representing brand mentions.
In this digital age content sharing is akin to speaking your mind. People repost and share content that appeals to them or seem interesting or important in their eyes. If people are sharing a brand’s content, it is usually because they feel a connection to it. Increased content shares is therefore another benchmark that can be used to measure the impact of a PR plan or strategy.
Another important indicator is the brand’s ranking on search engines. The ranking of a page in terms of search engine results, also gives insight into the brand’s popularity, and by extension, the impact of the PR strategies that are in place. Web page traffic can also be assessed to see how PR plans are working. With the right digital tools you can see how much traffic is directed to your web pages and how long visitors stay on your page.
Strategically designed surveys can be used to gather useful information for PR plan evaluation. The surveys can be used to determine how people feel about the brand and its products and services. Surveys used for this purpose should also seek to find out how people are learning about the brand (social media, websites, content search, online forums etc.).
Sales figures are also impacted positively when an effective PR plan is activated. When people have a positive impression of a brand, they are more likely to select that brand when making purchases. If a brand’s sales figures start climbing within the weeks and months that follow the implementation of a PR plan, chances are, the plan is behind the increase.
The ideal approach to figuring out how effective a PR plan is, is to use a combination of the measurement and assessment methods outlined here. A multi-faceted approach will provide a more complete picture of the plan’s performance.