Measuring Results

Assessing the value of Public Relations is not a straightforward task and ideally needs to be done in a qualitative manner. A well communicated strategic message creates a ripple effect with untold spin-offs that are hard to quantify, particularly with the proliferation of social networking, blogs and viral marketing. It is simplistic to evaluate results purely in monetary terms as the currency of PR is awareness, credibility, information, persuasion and education – all vital elements that are not easily measurable.

Essentially there are three types of media exposure: advertisements, advertorials and editorials. Advertisements and advertorials are paid for space and the value achieved is exactly what you pay for. These marketing tools are crucial in brand building, but are determined by finite advertising budgets. Editorial space is what journalists choose to write about and the space is not for sale.

Whilst advertisements are important in brand building by controlling the message and look and feel, and advertorials can be a useful educational tool, the power of editorial coverage is immense. Not only does it broaden avenues of exposure for limited advertising budgets, but more importantly, the editorial message can have far more impact and credibility and can provide powerful endorsements of your brand by trusted journalists and opinion leaders. PR also holds the key to effective social networking and interaction with bloggers ensuring fast rollouts and a sense of immediacy few other marketing avenues can achieve.

Fundamentally clients know that they are getting value for money when their brands and strategic messages appear regularly in the right media environments, seen by the right target markets and when people start talking about their brands as a result of increased visibility.

In quantitative terms exposure achieved can be interpreted by the number of website hits and readership impressions based on the circulation and readership of the publications where the material appeared. Another useful quantitative measuring tool is the advertising value equivalent (AVE) of the exposure achieved. The AVE represents what the exposure would have cost if it was paid for as an advertisement. Readership impressions give a fair idea of how many people were exposed to the PR message whilst AVE’s give a monetary equivalent of the exposure achieved. To ascertain the true monetary value of PR exposure, however, one needs to bear in mind that editorial exposure cannot be bought and holds far more credibility than advertisements and is therefore worth substantially more than AVE values alone.

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