A Discussion with Presenters from the 2017 LMA Annual Pre-Conference Program Dave Poston, Jessica Sharp and Allison McClain
Measuring the impact of public relations (PR) can be challenging. PR professionals grapple with various metrics and data—quantitative and qualitative—in an effort to demonstrate a return on investment (ROI) and drive revenue.
Dave Poston, Jessica Sharp and Allison McClain will be addressing “The PR Measurement Challenge” during the Breakthroughs in Public Relations, Content and Communications pre-conference program at the LMA annual conference. We connected with them to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities associated with PR measurement:
Q: What are the main components of a PR measurement program?
A: There are four main components of a PR measurement program:
- Start with the outcome: Create specific objectives to measure the success of a program. Ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish?”
- Identify available sources of data: What information can you access?
- Define benchmarks: What data comparisons are you making (e.g., your firm over time versus competitors)?
- Make conclusions and adjustments What’s working, and what isn’t? What can you adjust?
Q: What is the biggest hurdle to developing and implementing a PR measurement program?
A: Most PR professionals know they should be measuring the ROI of their programs, but they don’t necessarily know what to measure, how to measure it, why they are seeking measurement or what they will do with the data once it is compiled.
To overcome this hurdle, start at the end by determining what success looks like. What do you want to accomplish? Starting at that point will help make clear what data should be analyzed.
Q: What are the metrics you look for that show the overall health of a PR program or initiative?
A: It’s important to frequently check the data being tracked in order to determine whether the PR program is achieving the predetermined objectives. That data can be many things, such as number of press clips, inclusion of key messages in press clips, sentiment of articles, inclusion of attorney images in articles, increased traffic to particular pages on the website, engagement on social media, etc.
Q: How can PR professionals help their business development (BD) counterparts interpret the data in order to propel BD activity?
A: BD and PR should work together very closely from the beginning to define the objectives of a PR campaign. This means that everyone is working toward the same end result.
Integrated BD activities can occur at the cyclical planning, implementation and follow-up stages of a PR campaign. For example, in designing sales strategies, PR can help BD define legal products by bringing their trend-spotting skills to the table.
During implementation, PR professionals will integrate the firm’s sales target list by arranging a media opportunity and then inviting executives at these companies to be interviewed, thereby turning a cold lead into a warm one.
Because it’s historically difficult to draw a straight line between PR and new business, activities following media placements are where PR pros can easily find data relevant to BD and demonstrate success. For example, if an attorney publishes an article of particular interest to a potential client sector, the firm can send an e-alert and track website traffic from that alert to the relevant attorney’s bio page or practice group page. BD can then share specific names of those who engaged with the e-alert with the attorney author, who can then follow-up with them.
The most successful PR professionals know that by directly connecting themselves to revenue growth and the law firm’s clients, they will provide significant, measurable results and elevate their role.
Q: What best practices do you suggest PR professionals adhere to in order to maintain a strong measurement program?
A: It’s important to remember that measurement isn’t something that happens at the end of a campaign. Once you’ve identified your outcome and how you are going to measure success, reporting and tracking should be a cyclical process that happens throughout the measurement process. PR professionals should monitor and adjust regularly. An easy way to remember to do this is to have a regular meeting with your PR and BD team members or clients. At these meetings, the group can review the data, assess what worked (and what didn’t) to achieve the objectives and make adjustments from there.
For this and more, join the PR SIG community and your colleagues for the “Breakthroughs in Public Relations, Content and Communications” pre-conference program at the 2017 LMA Annual Conference. Space is limited, and registration closes soon!