Public Relations

‘Ending the data deficit’ – PR Analytics

“Communications objectives must be rigorously aligned to business objectives”.

That was one of the key take aways from this year’s PR Analytics event. Speakers from a wide range of industries took to the stage to discuss perhaps one of the industry’s more controversial topics: how do we measure PR effectively?

Quality over quantity

“The quantity of communication cannot make up for the quality of it. You have got to be able to demonstrate your worth” explained Alex Aiken, Executive Director for Government Communications. Alex added that, for his team, demonstrating that what they did had impact not only proved their worth but also built confidence within themselves.

PR Measurement had not been something high on the agenda within their organisation until Alex took up his role, following a huge number of job losses. Now, it is an integral part to everyday work, with their 20 main offices having dedicated performance hubs to constantly measure the impact of their campaigns.

Alex introduced us to the OASIS model of campaign planning:

  • Objectives
  • Audience/Insight
  • Strategy/Ideas
  • Implementation
  • Scoring/Evaluation

Citing five evaluation lessons to support evaluation – GOALS:

  • Goal
  • Origin
  • Adapt
  • Leadership
  • System

Read more on the OASIS model here.

The rise of the AI

Lucy Linthwaite, External Relations Leader for IBM UK and Ireland posed the question of sentiment: how can we make content more impactful and targeting more personal? How do we really tap into the mood of our audience before, during and after campaigns?

Here, she introduced us to Watson, an AI trained with 26 years’ worth of data to monitor conversations and sentiment, aid research and discovery, help you to understand interactions and anticipate issues. It’s an analysis tool that monitors sentiment online.

IBM used this in its ‘what makes great’ campaign for Wimbledon, asking the public what they think makes a great tennis player. IBM used Watson to analyse responses to the campaign so they could understand feedback and respond effectively.

Lucy explained that following this analysis, their responses to influencers, reporting and feedback on the campaign were all far more targeted as they could demonstrate what we were actually doing. “It was real and it was true and it linked to the mood of the people.”

Future-proofing measurement

Chair of the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC), it’s safe to say that Richard Bagnall knows a thing or two about measurement. He began by briefing looking at the evolution of media; In the past, with traditional media, everything was static and there was one place for all the news in the world – on the pages of a newspaper. Now, there is conversations on more platforms than it’s possible to count.

Richard asked us, are your measurement tools counting the stuff that counts? Are they measuring what really matters? Are they measuring your value to the organisation? If no, read on.

A lot of the tools we use provide metrics that don’t really matter. For example, when you tweet between 3 and 10% of your followers will see it. This means that, to a certain extent, tracking an increase in following isn’t really helpful at all. All evaluation must come back to the organisational goals an objectives, not start with the data you have – and it appears the Twitter world agrees.

Far too much of today’s PR measurement is focussed on outputs – press clippings, social media mentions, online coverage – rather than outtakes and outcomes – whether people have understood your message and made your desired changes.

I believe this is the fundamental flaw in many current evaluation methods, and by cracking this and measuring what matters, we’ll start to effectively prove PR’s worth.

Marketing has cracked it

Dave Stevens, Marketing Director for British Land, argued that PR is as measurable as any other form of marketing – “Marketing has owned up to its measurement problem, now public relations needs to do the same.”

“Successful marketing requires logic, rigour, discipline” he explained, adding that PR should be measured using a number of key factors:

  • Presentation (demographics, coverage)
  • Attention (digital, activity, engagement)
  • Action (clear CTAs, how do people respond)
  • Comprehension (have they taken away the correct messages)

Within his organisation, Dave benefits from PR being able to tap into some of the marketing budget for research and evaluation, a luxury many PR professionals do not have. So perhaps the lack of investment in measurement in PR is the problem.

Whatever the cause, Dave encouraged PR professionals to work together with industry bodies, media partners and other departments to ensure effective measurement.

The dog that didn’t bark

The morning’s panel discussion consisted of:

  • Anne-Sophie Pereira De Sa – EMEA Customer Success Manager, Sysomos (ASP)
  • Marcus Gault – Managing Director, Kantar Media Reputation Intelligence (MG)
  • Ben Levine – Head of Research, Analytics & Measurement, FleishmanHillard Fishburn (BL)
  • Claire Foster – Deputy Head of News, Direct Line Group (CF)

The topic of conversation? Understanding measurement and influence patterns.

The conversation that ensued touched on all corners of measurement, from tracking the positive and negatives, sharing data and working as one with agency and client, setting objectives that link to business goals, to why we should devote time to measurement. Here are my key take aways:

  • CF“Have you heard of the dog that didn’t bark?” It’s just as valuable to report on the negative stories that you kept out of the news as it is to talk about the things that went well.
  • BL“What we do doesn’t exist in a vacuum, public relations is part of a marketing mix – we are all working towards the same common goal and all have a role to play.”
  • MG“Don’t measure what you can’t influence.” We shouldn’t be trying to measure something like sales figures if it’s something that our activity cannot directly influence.
  • ASP“Try to have more strategic conversations than tactical ones; the why not the how. Ask yourself, ‘so what?’” You need to consider what this metric or this piece of information means to you or the client.
  • BL“Measurement is something that is designed to improve what we do, not just to say how great we are.” Look at the positive and negatives when researching and evaluating.
  • ASP“The timeframes of the campaign can be a hinderance. Perhaps we should be looking three weeks, three months or more after the campaign for measurement.” Think about when and for what period of time you should be measuring your work. Should you re-evaluate in a week, a month, or a year’s time to see if you’ve brought about change?
  • CF“Any of those metrics used in isolation can become meaningless, so use them together and link back to organisational objectives.” Not only is it essential to measure what matters, but also to ensure you are using alongside the right data and evaluating with objectives in mind.

Avoid data overload

“There has always been a lot of data, but we now have the tools to measure every single insight if we want” said Rachel Lockwood, Marketing Director at SAS. She encouraged that, to measure effectively, you should first be very clear on the message that you are trying to get across – what do you want your audiences to take away?

At SAS, they have linked their measurement metrics to their business plan, allowing for an integrated measurement process. “We are all in and all departments have one plan” Rachel explained, meaning everyone within the business – from HR to marketing to finance – understand the goals and what they are trying to achieve.

Her key tips for measuring effectively included firstly working out what is most important. Nowadays, we’re lucky to have a vast set of data at our fingertips, but it is not all going to be relevant. Work out what matters for your business, how you are going to track it and how you can link it to your organisational objectives.

Rachel explained that they look at “what our customers want, where there is potential and what we can offer” which allows for an effective and integrated marketing function.

Another key point was putting the data into context. For example, rather than looking at simply which influencers have engaged with your product or company, perhaps consider putting this into a percentage of influencers reached. Or track the year on year increase in your target audience that engaged.


Thank you to for a fascinating morning of analytics and to all the speakers for sharing their thoughts and expertise. Check out more from PR Moment here.

Liked this blog? You might like How to make the most of 4 billion internet users or The minefield of social media – Influence Live.

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