Measuring Public Relations for businesses

Posted: August 1, 2015 in Ugandan things

It is common for people to think that you cannot measure PR works. This has caused immense suffering to some PR professionals. Company cost cutting plans start with PR budgets. It is important that PR professionals are not looked at as people who are only paid to spend. PR specialists do not just warm seats and organise company parties. This article looks at PR measurement and evaluation in Uganda.
PR measurement and evaluation process is often affected by the fact that few organisations know even what PR is supposed to do. We should stop measuring how many fliers someone can give out. Organisations must support PR measurement budgets.
PR evaluation is very important today and organisations must get serious. It is now required for due diligence and award nominations. A potential investor needs to know the communication muscle capability before they buy. Some organisations now have what is called a PR balance sheet that shines light on reputation and other aspects of corporate governance.PR officers give a lot to support all business operations though most of the time, the results are long-term.
The most common tool to measure PR work in Uganda is Advertising Value equivalents (AVEs). AVE’s presents publicity that would have been paid for as adverts. PR officers use advertising rate cards for radios, print, TVs and websites to be more accurate with equivalents. More analysis must be done on AVEs. AVEs alone are not effective in PR measurement as they focus on publicity. Media relations is just a small portion of PR.PR does more than just being press agents .No wonder some countries have already rejected AVEs. If analsyis goes beyond just the number of press clips, AVEs can attempt to measure almost all aspects of PR.
A data analyst can be brought on board to help on that. It is not about copying and pasting publicity clips into reports. Publicity content can also highlight negative stories and crises. You will know if the PR teams got to the bottom of the crisis or not.PR measurement can also analyse publicity of the industry as a whole. You can also lookout for stories that misrepresented a brand or those that mentioned the right company message and brand name.
Performance management tools like Balanced score card (BSC) can help measure PR. This targets individual PR officers in a particular organisation. For example if they planned five articles and one CSR event each month, then that becomes a target to measure. All PR outputs and inputs can be measured by a BSC.A Balanced scorecard measures a PR officer’s performance in four ways: financial perspective, internal business perspective, innovation and learning perspective, and customer perspective. The BSC combines the Communication strategy, objectives, and measures of performance of a particular organisation. Decisions can be made based on the scores of the practitioner.
Research helps measure PR output and input. Different types of research can be conducted to measure a wide range of PR tasks. Research firms can be contracted to carry out perception audits, Message research, channel research, content research, brand awareness research, market research, and comparative competitor research among others. Findings from such research helps know how PR has been performing in a given period of time. Was the message effective? What was the share of voice?
Organisations can also use multiple feedback channels to measure PR output and input. Feedback collected from social media, emails, traditional newspapers, and suggestion boxes can be analysed to give you a picture of how PR is delivering to the clientele.
Online PR is the easiest to measure and evaluate. There are thousands of free tools that can generate reports. Company websites can track site visitors internally. Google analytics is also good in measuring website activity. Each individual social media site like Twitter, Facebook, wordpress, and scribd has its own free statistical tools. Tools can tell you engagement rates, activity, following, content development: successes and failures. Results will tell you if the agency or internal PR team is sleeping.
Measuring PR must always focus on the output.PR Measurements must be frequent not per quarter. PR people do lots of tasks and they may forget about others. Organisations must also have PR task trackers. Supervisors must set aside time at least every week to demand updates on pending tasks in status meetings. Status meetings help organization address PR personnel weaknesses and organisational challenges after evaluating the deliverables at hand. This helps evaluate the goals and objections in current PR plans.
PR Measurement by an organisation should however, start with a great PR agency service contract and detailed job descriptions for the internal staff. You can not measure what you do not want. The contract must have key result areas you will be interested in monitoring. Those organisations that have never measured PR can benchmark with others on the way forward.PR officers and organisations must always lookout for new tools to measure their work.
Ivan N Baliboola
Public Relations and organisational diagnosis specialist.


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