Your PR campaign’s success will ultimately depend on your approach, so it’s vital that you develop one that your organisation is best suited to and one that you’re comfortable with using.
As PR content makes a shift to online, there are now even more ways that you can effectively measure and evaluate your campaigns.
Although there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach that you can use, I’ve developed an all-encompassing view below, which you can use and change to match your PR campaigns as required.
PR campaign approach
Set your campaign objectives
This may seem like a fairly obviously one, but it’s something that I come across time and time again. You need to nail down your objectives before you even start a campaign, don’t leave it until the end.
Set S.M.A.R.T goals for PR success – specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based.
Do your research
Before you know what it is you’ll be doing, you need to have carried out in-depth research around your audience. Here are some research areas that you should consider.
- Past campaign performance – Look at the difficulties of the last campaign, were there any objectives that you missed or audiences that you found difficult to engage with? What channels worked best etc?
- Audience behaviour – Once you’ve decided who you’re going to target, you need to look at their needs and traits, what is it that they respond to? There are tons of resources out there to help you with this if you don’t have your own data. Try Statista as a starting point
- Benchmark of current audience – Use tools such as Google Analytics and social media analytics to identify the audiences that you current reach and the audiences that respond to you. The results may surprise you
- Conduct a survey of your audience and identify what they respond to (or not), this data is vital in demonstrating if you’ve helped to change the mindset or opinion at the end of the campaign
- Use free tools – Believe it or not but some of the best tools actually don’t cost anything, they only take time. Google Trends is a fantastic tool to help identify patterns in search / content behaviour
Plan your activity
This is all about planning the activities for your campaign. This will vary from campaign to campaign, but for the majority of us, you will likely being using a variety of channels, not just PR.
For example –
- Press release writing
- Sponsorship of events
- Creating case studies
- Running competitions
- Social media
- Landing page creation
- Live campaign tracking
- Paid for media – outdoor, radio, press and digital ads etc
It’s important to plan all of this activity out at the start, as it is very likely that you’ll want to run an integrated PR campaign. By planning it out, you’ll be able to see if there are any gaps in your campaign and it will allow you to allocate sufficient resource at key times. It’s essential for budgeting.
- A gantt chart to give you an overview of all activity
- Contact reports for meetings
- Separate calendars and deadline documents for press, social media and advertising
- A spreadsheet to manage invoicing
Measure the outputs
Outputs are traditionally what organisations and PR agencies are focussed on, but this is only part of the evaluation process.
Outputs may include:
- Number of articles written / coverage received
- Total opportunities to see (OTS)
- Total opportunities to hear (OTS)
- Website visitor numbers
- Social media posts
- Social media engagement
- Number of adverts displayed etc
Track the outtakes
Outtakes are more of a qualitative approach to measurement and evaluation, and this is the stuff that you really want to know.
Outtakes may include:
- Live tracking
- Analysis of coverage (tone, sentiment etc)
- Online tracking of comments and feedback
- Journalist and media feedback
Outtakes should be tracked throughout the duration of the campaign, so if you pick up on something that isn’t quite right, you still have time to adjust the content of the campaign and change the outcome (if you need to).
Evaluate the outcomes
Finally, you need to evaluate the outcome of the campaign. What did your campaign actually achieve?
Outcomes are linked to the objectives of the business and may include:
- The positive impact on business objectives including sales and enquiries
- Ticket sales and foot fall for events
- The number of people actively engaged with your brand
- Comparison against previous campaign objectives
- Reaching new and untapped audiences
- Website referrals is becoming more important
- Awareness of brand
- Opinion of brand
Additional tips for successful PR campaigns
- Know your business objectives
- Measure from the start and throughout the campaign
- Benchmark against past PR campaigns
- Be aware of factors beyond your control