What is easier - measuring PR or knitting fog?

  • FogSome would say measuring the value of PR is like knitting fog - it can't be done: it's certainly a topic that has exercised the mind of marketers and brand owners for aeons.

    But in a world that now demands a metric for just about everything, marketers and their agencies can't get away with saying 'trust me on this one' any more. The dashboard has to be completed and the board satisified that its budgets are being appropriately directed.

    In fairness, the PR industry has had a go. For many years, Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) was the accepted standard - basically the number of column inches multiplied by the equivalent advertising cost in that publication with a factor added in (often arbitrarily) to reflect editorial content being worth more than advertising.

    For its arbitrary nature alone, AVE is now largely discredited and seen as someting manufactured by the PR industry to justify its outputs (well, that's what was asked for, right?). Of course it has its flaws, and while we perhaps shouldn't knock a valiant attempt to provide a measure, it is clearly not the whole story or a particularly accurate one at that.

    This though still leaves us scratching around to provide realistic measures of the value and outcomes of PR. The reason it is difficult is because ROI cannot be measured in terms of direct financial impact alone. We live in a world where we are all driven to put a number on everything, but in reality hard metrics are short term and backward looking. We really need to be evaluating PR in terms of its future impact.

    At The Marketing Eye, we recommend taking a more rounded view of the evaluation, aligning PR to business goals rather than PR goals in isolation. This means agreeing with our client what they are trying to achieve overall - short term and long term.

    Of course, we all understand that leads and sales are often today's objective, but the business is also likely to want to improve awareness, knowledge and understanding amongst the public and the media for the future. This is fundamentally about reputation management - to encourage support and preference for when the business might need to call upon it - for good reasons or bad. 

    Rather than wrapping all this up in an excuse to duck the issue of evaluation, we recommend a Balanced Business Scorecard approach in which the objectives are clear, but some of the individual lines are accepted as less driven by hard metrics than others. For example:


    • Lifetime value of any directly attributable new customers
    • Increases in brand value


    • Counts of press clippings
    • Relevance and reach of readership
    • Key message mentions
    • Likes/Shares/Follows of coverage
    • Visits to the website via clicks from coverage
    • Increases in brand search

    Internal support

    • First time yield e.g. releases signed off with minimum changes
    • Other internal efficiencies created e.g. tasks taken on allowing the internal team to focus on other activities
    •  - Blog posts created
    •  - Case studies written
    •  - Other communications support provided
    • Increases in spokesperson's comfort in dealing with the media through coaching and mentoring

    Reputation management

    • Meetings with relevant journalists
    • Comments and responses issued
    • Behavioural change achieved e.g. reduction in negative messaging
    • Keeping negative news out of the press

    More or different objectives can be agreed through discussion, but in essence, we say that an holistic view should be taken and rather than jump to quick findings based on quantitative data, there should be regular qualitative reviews of the objectives of the business and the extent to which it is felt the PR activity is pulling its weight towards delivering them.

    On that we are happy to be judged.

Related articles

  • Read More

    SharpSpring launches visual workflow builder to enhance lead generation and sales

    SharpSpring recently announced the launch of their Visual Workflow builder. The new feature intends to make the process for creating workflows easier and brings it in line with the likes of Pardot...

  • Read More

    Why can’t we make faster business decisions?

    Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Blink, argues that the lengthy procrastination that often takes place in decision-making is ‘post self-justification’, because we actually make up our minds pretty...

  • Read More

    Marketing activity so bad it’s quite literally criminal

    A news article came out through the Bangkok Post (we found it through The Verge) last week about the arrest of three Chinese nationals. The trio had been paid over £10,000 a month to run a...

  • Read More

    Jason Dilworth joins The Marketing Eye to develop technical capability

    Financial services marketing agency, The Marketing Eye, has appointed Jason Dilworth to the new role of Technical Director in a move designed to expand and develop the company’s data-driven...

  • Read More

    A third of B2B marketers are tracking sales through social

    For an industry whose origins and continuing existence rely heavily on the accurate analysis of statistics, the insurance sector would do well to note the seismic shift taking place in modern...

  • Read More

    Repeat, Repeat, Repeat – 4 reasons to keep contacting the same prospect list

    Asking someone to buy your product or sign up to your service after only one mail-shot or email is unrealistic. We can’t expect that one email, no matter how carefully crafted, will be enough to...

  • Read More

    Promoting video content on social media

    So, your business has splashed out on a big, beautiful high quality piece of video content, you are going to want to stretch it as far as it will go, right? Then don’t do what everyone else does...

  • Read More

    Four Facebook ad campaigns you should be running to attract and retain investors

    With around one-fifth of the world’s population on Facebook, you would think generating brand awareness and leads from it would be a piece of cake. The reality is less straight forward. With a...

  • Read More

    6 quick wins when you first sign up to marketing automation

    Marketing automation systems are powerful, intelligent and the bedrock of many businesses' marketing strategies, but getting to learn and understand them takes time and dedication. Not becoming...

  • Read More

    7 characteristics of social media implementation in B2B marketing

    If you look for evidence of the potential benefits to B2B organisations of social media, you will see both lead generation, as well as brand reinforcement are being addressed to great advantage....

Take the first step

To find out more about how we can help you grow faster, please get in touch. We'd like to hear from you.  Or try our instant marketing healthcheck, it's free!

Quick Contact

Quick contact


Contact us

T 01825 765617

E hello@themarketingeye.com

Our offices

Full details of our offices in London and Uckfield more

Request a call