PR Measurement: The A-Z guide

AMEC’s Measurement month kicked off on September 4th with the aim of knowledge sharing and promoting best practice. For those who may not have heard of AMEC, the Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication, it is the world’s largest media evaluation and insights organisation.

Its pioneering work has included the development of the Barcelona Principles; Barcelona Principles 2.0 and most recently the launch of the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework.

Its commitment to demonstrating best practice in communications measurement by developing industry-accepted definitions and principles inspired us to share our own A-Z of measurement definitions.

A – AMEC is the fast-growing global trade body and professional institute for agencies and practitioners who provide media evaluation and communication research.

B – The Barcelona Principles are a set of seven principles that provided the first overarching framework for effective public relations (PR) and communication measurement. First created in 2010, and refreshed in 2015, they identify the importance of goal setting; the need for outcomes, instead of outputs-based measurement of PR campaigns; the exclusion of ad value equivalency metrics; the validity of quantitative and qualitative measurements; the value of social media; and call for a holistic approach to measurement and evaluation.

C – The CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) welcomes AMEC’s commitment to eradicate the use of AVEs in May 2017. Members currently using AVEs have been given one year to complete a transition to valid metrics, after which they may be liable to disciplinary action.

D – Dashboards enable you to analyse data, compare coverage, monitor ongoing industry stories and trends, and even find out which journalists are writing about our competitors. However, a dashboard is only as good as the quality of data you input. 

E – Earned media third-party media coverage secured through a relationship or newsworthy event, rather than paid-for advertising or other means of securing coverage. Includes on- and off-line media.

F – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn… The Barcelona Principles state that social media can and should be measured. While there’s certainly no magic bullet the right approach to measuring social media is to focus on your objectives and then measure in a way that reflects them.

G – An organisational goal is a broad idea of what you would like to achieve, stated in clear, simple terms. For example, are you aiming to increase revenue or customer engagement? Or, are you trying to strengthen brand awareness or improve reputation? This will help provide focus throughout the campaign.

H – Hypothetical calculations, such as ‘Advertising value equivalents’ (AVEs), are still believed to be used by up to a third of PR and corporate communication practitioners worldwide despite irrefutable evidence that they are invalid and misleading.

I –  Impact is the final section of AMEC’s Integrated Evaluation Framework. This covers reputational improvement, the improvement or establishment of relationships, change in policy or improved social change. Impact should clearly demonstrate the business outcome and link to organisational objectives.

J – Avoid jargon, this applies not only in the messages you distribute but also in the reports you share with clients.

K – KPI Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable measures that enable you to show progress over time. They define a set of values against which to measure success. Set realistic KPIs for each objective. These might include web visitors, content downloads, sales orders, registrations etc.

L –When it comes to benchmarking the results of your PR activity. Can you identify the action taken by your target audience? Brand loyalty, awareness and customer satisfaction can all be measured. 

M – Are you communicating the right messages, in a positive manner and in greater volume than competitive messages? Make sure you spend some time getting your messages right when you are planning your communications.

N – Don’t obsess about the numbers. Focus on the link between activities and outcomes. Successful measurement requires relevancy, context and insight.

O – Outcomes over Outputs. Outputs are the material and activity that the PR professional generates such as a press release, email, events etc. While, outcomes are things that have happened as the result of a campaign. This could be a measurable change in awareness, knowledge, attitude, opinion, behaviour or reputation metrics. Outcomes are the purpose of PR, and give us a much better understanding of what good really looks like.

P – PESO stands for Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned media. Paid media content is generated as a result of a purchase such as an advert or an advertorial.

Q – The Barcelona Principles believe that media evaluation requires both quantitative and qualitative methods. It’s never been more important than now to measure the quality as well as the quantity of coverage. Sentiment, share of voice, engagement and message are crucial indicators.

R – Results should be reported in the context of the organisations business objectives, as well as against the goals of the campaign.

S – Shared media, the third element of the PESO model is characterised by its ability to be shared and distributed by third parties. Social media is undoubtedly a big part of the way people live their lives today. 

T – Transparency – The Barcelona Principles recognise the importance of honesty and openness. With the updated principles offering specific guidance in order to ensure methods are reliable, replicable and trustworthy.

U – AMEC and the Barcelona Principles have answered the industries need for a universal, authentic and measurable framework. 

V – Value describes what’s important to an organisation; often described alongside the organisation’s mission and vision.

W – Webinars are a great (and often free) way of expanding your expertise. AMEC will be hosting a practical webinar on September 29th to discuss the latest trends in measurement.

X – Cross (X) referencing. Insight and evaluation tools are not always reliable, especially on social media. Therefore, it is always worth cross-referencing metrics against each other to ensure your measurement data is accurate.

Y – Yesterday, where AVE belongs.

Z – Zero budget. Lack of budget is frequently cited as a reason for ignoring PR measurement. But if a non-profit can do it, there’s really no excuse.

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