Current Trend: Who said accountants are boring!
Return on investment (ROI) and measurement of a PR campaign has always been a
hot topic in our industry in Australia. It was also one of the topics discussed
at the annual Public Relations Network
(PRN) Conference I attended in New York
City last June.
There was consent among Conference attendees that clients are increasingly
asking for our work to be evaluated against measurable outcomes, which has
become a real challenge for PR agencies because PR is about reputation building
and reputation is difficult to be measured quantitatively.
One of the possible quantitative measures of PR that has been debated for
decades is the equivalent advertising cost. This topic was discussed at the PRN
Conference and members agreed that offering equivalent advertising value to
evaluate media coverage devalues the work of public relations practitioners
- Editorial has much more credibility and therefore value than advertising
- A good PR program includes many more tactics than just media coverage
This being said, some Conference attendees admitted offering equivalent
advertising cost simply because it is a trend in their country and clients are
Here in Australia, there's been a strong movement in the past 5 years against
measuring media coverage with its equivalent advertising cost. In fact, the
latest Registered Consultancy Group's agencies survey indicated that about 90
per cent of PR agencies use media coverage relevancy, communication of key
messages and client satisfaction as measures of success while only a third of
RCG members uses equivalent advertising cost.
As PR practitioner
Simons referred to in an article, 'the concept of measurement is often
confused with counting'. In reality, the starting point in measuring the success
of PR efforts is to look at the achievement of pre-determined objectives and
their associated activities. And while this can sometimes include quantifiable
measures, they are more often than not qualitative in the PR world of
'awareness', 'visibility' and 'reputation'.
This ROI debate will most likely persist for a very long time in the PR industry
and will adapt as new PR tools are introduced. We have actually noticed in the
past year or so a new debate: ROI of an online public relations campaign. But
we'll leave this topic for another article...
Kim Larochelle (@kimlarochelle)