Knowing if you've got your pound of flesh for public relations has, in the main, been confined to measurement of press cuttings. In its crudest form, this involves weighing them. At its most sophisticated it involves analysis, whereby teams of readers pore over press clippings and evaluate if the campaign messages have been communicated.
According to new research from Echo Research and PR Week, 88% of public relations departments evaluate their campaigns using media analysis. While this speaks volumes about how effective the practitioner has been in persuading the media to write about, or broadcast, the communications message, it does not reveal how well the PR campaign impacted and influenced the target audience.
Impact and influence measures provide the muscle for public relations evaluation. Public relations impact, as with advertising, is about reaching enough of the right people enough times with the right communication. Public relations influence goes further, being about engendering the right response to the communication, whether this is the creation of awareness of, or preference for, a brand, company or service.
It is possible to measure both the impact and influence of public relations campaigns, and the results can be impressive. For example, a leading service provider recently employed public relations as the sole discipline during the first phase of a campaign, in order to isolate the effect of the activity. The campaign, to inform customers about a change in its service, reached over half of British households nearly four times with the requisite information, resulting in a marked increase in customer loyalty. …