This blog was written by Madeline Jones, Communication Manager at Elevate Communication. Madeline is passionate about providing strategic solutions for her clients, and running programs aligned to client corporate social responsibilities.
An individual’s definition of success looks different from person to person, and businesses are no exception.
Organisations have their own version of success; one that we as communication practitioners are engaged to help them achieve. When it comes to providing services and proving our value and expertise, it is paramount that our public relations campaign reporting demonstrates this success.
This rings particularly true for media relations activity.
Most practitioners have seen and produced ‘best practice’ media reports taught in university classrooms, and while we are no longer producing them for ‘pseudo clients’, there has been little change to the format many of us use.
Real-life client or organisational satisfaction can’t be captured in reports limited to metrics of media targets, estimated audience reach, or, as some of the more seasoned PR practitioners may recall, reporting on the Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE). Good PR leveraging editorial media coverage is more strategic than having a presence in the mainstream outlets, it’s nuanced and focussed on achieving results best aligned to your organisational goals, value and brand.
PR can be reputational, positive coverage to negate or balance negative sentiment.
PR can be increasing brand recognition through key messaging woven throughout achieved coverage.
PR can be share of voice against competitors, refining and capturing your client’s or organisation’s market.
Just as we are all unique, so too are organisations. A cookie-cutter approach to reporting can no longer be applied to media relations in the contemporary PR landscape.
So, how do we compile an impactful PR campaign report?
Get to know your organisation’s definition of success
Many companies who engage or employ communication professionals are after ‘traditional’ PR; big media hits for big audience reach. Agencies and in-house teams, however, have honed expertise that goes further than that.
Just in the past five years we have seen how rapidly media relations has changed, impacted by the closure of media outlets, restricted editorial resourcing, and push for advertorial coverage to cover overheads. Traditional media relations cannot perform in the way it previously did.
Generating valuable impact can only be achieved by understanding who your client or organisation is and what they want to achieve with a PR media campaign.
Is it mass coverage Australia-wide, or is it more state-specific?
Is it a story relevant for everyone, or is there an audience that would benefit from it?
By having a robust conversation at the start of a PR media campaign, you can finetune expectations and desired outcomes. By defining the ‘end goal’ early on, you can easily tailor your pitch and monitor relevant metrics of success.
Get to the ‘happy medium’
Part of understanding and measuring against these metrics of success is ‘taking your client or organsiation along the journey’. That is, simply put, taking the time to go through the requirements of their PR media campaign, and what measurables can be contributed to the activity.
PR practitioners are engaged primarily to be the trusted advisors in a space where the client or organisation isn’t all too familiar—whether that be media engagement, digital marketing spend, or internal corporate communications.
Our role is to ensure that the results we are getting not only is relevant to the organisation and their business priorities, but is achievable and measurable.
This can only come through in the investment of time in rationale that comes with PR campaign reporting that goes beyond the restrictions of quantitative reporting. And this comes from negotiating the ‘happy medium’ and using the tools available to you.
Get familiar with your media monitoring platform
All PR teams have access to a media monitoring platform, and despite the marketing each platform does, they all share the same basic functions. When campaign results come in, they can be plugged into the platform to gain qualitative data to use in your PR campaign reporting.
Most platforms offer widgets that measure:
- Share of voice: your media cut through compared to competitors
- Trending themes: what phrases / key messages appear most often in achieved coverage
- Potential reach: estimated audience interacting with coverage
- Top Social Echo: coverage with the most exposure
- Sentiment: if achieved coverage has a positive, neutral or negative sentiment to audiences
- Hot maps: geographic locations interacting with achieved coverage
Get analytical and apply learnings
Getting numbers or outputs is one thing, but how to interpret them is another. When compiling a report, take a qualitative approach when reviewing the results—What patterns are emerging? Are certain industries reacting differently than others to your story? Was there a barrier to achieving brand or company mentions?
Whatever the agreed upon KPI or success metric for the PR campaign, be objective in the presentation of quantitative and qualitative outputs.
PR campaigns should be an iterative process. As you get more exposure to the organisation, their audience, and their definitions of success, you will become more confident. Effective PR campaign reporting is an important tool to present the outcomes of media relations and use the results to inform the next media approach.
We would love to hear about your work and your PR goals. If you would like to partner with one of Australia’s leading marketing communication agencies, reach out to the Elevate team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions or would like to chat all things reporting, connect with me on LinkedIn.