Public relations have always been a cause-and-effect-scoped business. It is as important to track and measure the results of a PR campaign as it is to design and develop the campaign and release it to the media.
Focus groups still help to modify and refine a campaign in development. They represent the target audience and their input has proven to be effective just by the subsequent tracking of results of a PR campaign. Fortunately, people have two apparently combative characteristics, but they seem to manage to keep them in check. People are curious about trying new things, but they are also consistent in brand loyalty.
The challenge to PR agencies is to capitalize on the first characteristic and develop an encouraging campaign to allow the second characteristic to dominate future behavior. In the midst of these characteristics, target audiences go through a tried-and-true process of analysis of a PR campaign.
Their access to and perception of the campaign is the first step; providing that access through as many channels as possible is an essential PR function. Their comprehension of the campaign information begins immediately. Once they have processed the access and comprehension, their behavior will dictate the results of their processing of the campaign.
Here are four tips to help public relations measurement:
- Consistently employ available media monitoring tools
- Measure the product’s audience perception
- Track third-party reaction and commentary
- Monitor the competition
They should begin to be applied even before the launch of the campaign. To monitor media trends in all available media – print, radio, television and Internet – before the launch of a campaign will help to gage how the campaign is likely to be received.
With Internet feasibility, audience perception is being reported as feedback through social media almost immediately following the launch of a campaign. It is not longer necessary to wait weeks and months to gage audience perception. Use the media monitoring tools now available, including monitoring and measurement of social media feedback.
Once a product is launched, access to it by ad-hoc third-party investigators is inevitable and irreplaceable. If prior market research, beta testing, et al, have been effective prior to launch, these third-party reviews by real people having real interest in testing the features and assessing the benefits of a product go far beyond “kicking the tires.” Your target audience is now savvy to these reviews and depends highly on them as part of their processing of campaign information.
Unless the product is so unique, its innovation is beyond anything in the marketplace – this is rare, but it does happen – there is already competition in the marketplace. If the product features and benefits are obvious improvements, this will make competitive benchmarking easier to gage. Regardless, measuring competitive features and benefits, and their reaction to your campaign, are also being reviewed by your target audience.
By employing these tactics of public relations measurement, you will have the roadmap for response to the audience perception, comprehension and behavior toward your campaign and product.