Measuring Marketing ROI on Public Relations
 

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Though every organization has unique PR opportunities and challenges, all must maximize resources and demonstrate value in order to succeed in today's competitive business environment. In order to ...

Though every organization has unique PR opportunities and challenges, all must maximize resources and demonstrate value in order to succeed in today's competitive business environment. In order to succeed in today's cost-conscious, business-driven climate, PR professionals must be able to do more with existing resources and prove their contribution to the bottom line. This paper demonstrates how the right analysis can result in more successful PR programs that provide a quantifiable contribution to the organization and provides a guide to successful measurement. It also examines how the analytic capabilities within today's PR management technology can help industry-leading organizations better manage and measure their PR efforts, using specific examples of how Southwest Airlines has been able to effectively run and measure its PR programs.

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Measuring Marketing ROI on Public Relations Document Transcript

  • 1. Vocus White Paper Measuring the Marketing ROI on Public Relations How to Improve PR Success and Demonstrate Value to the Business
  • 2. Vocus White Paper 1 Measuring the Marketing ROI on Public Relations Measuring the Marketing ROI on Public Relations How to Improve PR Success and Demonstrate Value to the Business Executive Summary Though every organization has unique PR opportunities and challenges, all must maximize resources and demonstrate value in order to succeed in today’s competitive business environment. In order to succeed in today’s cost-conscious, business-driven climate, PR professionals must be able to do more with existing resources and prove their contribution to the bottom line. This paper demonstrates how the right analysis can result in more successful PR programs that provide a quantifiable contribu- tion to the organization and provides a guide to successful measurement. It also examines how the analytic capabilities within today’s PR management technology can help industry-leading organizations better manage and measure their PR efforts, using specific examples of how Southwest Airlines has been able to effectively run and measure its PR programs. Target Audience Chief Marketing Officers, VPs of Marketing, Strategic Marketers, Marketing Analysts, and other Public Relations Professionals Introduction Demonstrating Public Relations’ impact on the company’s bottom line has always presented a challenge for PR professionals. While other departments such as sales use hard numbers to demonstrate their impact to the business, PR professionals have traditionally relied on less tangible and more time-consuming methods, such as clip counts and ad equivalency, to prove their value to the business. While these methods do demonstrate the potential of PR, they do not produce a complete picture of the impact of PR nor the type of measurable Return on Investment (ROI) that C-level executives use to determine budgets. This white paper will discuss how to showcase your results and have them accurately reflect the ROI of PR campaigns to get the executive team to take notice. We will examine how industry-leading organizations have been able to use PR manage- ment technology to tackle the ROI challenge and better manage and measure their PR efforts. We will also take a look at how Southwest Airlines is effectively running and measuring PR programs that show the value-add to the business. Return on PR Investments: What’s All the Fuss About? PR investments are integral to the success of today’s leading companies. In a recent study to determine the ROI of public rela- tions, Procter & Gamble employed statistical modeling across the marketing mix of six brands over a three year period. Here’s what Procter & Gamble discovered: • Three of the six brands it studied showed public relations with the highest ROI of any marketing tactic • PR delivers significant ROI overall, much greater than advertising, and provides a halo effect over other marketing tactics • PR showed an overall 275% ROI • PR delivers high ROI with relatively low spend in comparison to other marketing vehicles PR provides a vital avenue for company success and, when done right, delivers an ROI greater than many other functions. The effect of a successful PR campaign on the company can be in both awareness and sales. In today’s business environment, it is important that PR departments can express that effectiveness in dollar value. The Evolution of PR: Measure Your Impact As PR has evolved in recent years to both compete with and complement other departments, PR professionals continue to be folded into the marketing department and are asked to produce more and better results year after year. In this climate, PR professionals need the tools to not only accomplish their results but also to measure their success. In the past, PR departments turned to more creative methods to show a tangible ROI for their efforts, which proved to be almost as challenging as the efforts themselves. Gathering the clips for the month, detailing the efforts in carefully worded prose and conveying the strategy and planning behind the efforts are sufficient to show the amount and results of your activity but can’t be included in a bottom line spreadsheet. Fortunately, it is now possible to produce hard numbers to analyze PR efforts and tie them back to the bottom line. With technology making it possible to measure the impact of PR in dollars, companies are seeing the value PR provides to all their existing marketing activities.
  • 3. Vocus White Paper 2 Measuring the Marketing ROI on Public Relations It’s Not How Much You Measure But What You Measure: The Guide to Measurement Success Knowing where to begin analyzing is often the hardest part of measurement. When it comes time to create reports for the team, executives or the board, what should you look at to determine your own success? While showing the numbers is essential, not just for showing the value of PR but for learning from activities and honing tactics, putting them into context is the key. • What’s Important to You- Every company has different criteria for success and it’s critical to find a solu- tion that is flexible enough to provide an array of measurement options so you can ultimately select what is impor- tant to your organization. As PR continues to grow and change, make sure your method gives you an accu- rate assessment of all the factors that are affecting your coverage and media perception. PR analytic tools should deliver the real-time results that matter most to you and your organization so you can effectively evaluate suc- cess in relation to your company, product and spokespeople mentions; issue response; and competitive edge. • Getting the Right Results- While all results are great for your own sense of accomplishment, they are not all equally beneficial to the company. Make sure the results you are getting are those that will help your message penetrate and equal success for the organization. Has monitoring the corporate brand online and in blogs taken priority over other outlets? Has your CEO’s profile overshadowed the actual company and product? Knowing where to place your efforts is great, but you also need to know how to tailor them to ensure the message isn’t lost. The latest PR software provides PR professionals with the ability to not only keep track of their clips but also the messages of each. Monitoring and tracking the messages within the articles themselves will ensure you are getting the right results for the organization. • Learn from Success- Find out what is already working so you can understand your success. Discover which cam- paigns have had the greatest impact and who they have influenced. By tracking and comparing your activity and efforts against results, PR professionals can gauge what activities are most effective in helping land those messages in stories and subsequently adjust all their strategies to mimic the results and maximize impact. News monitoring is an integral component to this. Use this information to determine where your message has penetrated. By looking at the outlets and Designated Market Areas (DMA), you can see where you have succeeded and more importantly where you need to focus. • Quality Over Quantity- To more accurately gauge PR success, organizations must measure the quality of their news not just the quantity. In order to do so, greater insight into news coverage is required. It’s important that your analytic tools can measure more than just how many clips you receive. As we all know, not all outlets and articles are created equal so why would the front page of a daily newspaper and a brief in an obscure blog with limited readership, each count the same. Ad- ditionally, since not all news is good, what if that front page article spells disaster? The prominence and tone of your cover- age makes all the difference. With the sophisticated measurement functionality available in leading PR management tools, companies can now track where and how often their news appears in an article, rank or score the impact of the outlet by assigning a weight based on importance to the organization and determine if the stories are positive, negative or neutral. • Apples to Apples Comparison- Measure your PR in a way that makes sense. If you’re a mid-sized company, don’t benchmark yourself against IBM and look to achieve the same results—you are not likely to come out ahead! Judge your efforts against organizations in the same league as you, whether it is a competitor or an organization with a similar model, size or level of brand recognition; choose something that is comparable. If you are in a field where you compete with more well known competitors, monitoring success at the product level instead of the company level may give you a more appropriate measure of comparative success. Monitoring not only your news but also your com- petitor’s will improve your strategy as well. Knowing where their message resonated and what message has worked for them will help you fine tune your own messaging. By looking through their company mentions, product names or other criteria you will better understand how your communications campaigns are performing and how they are stacking up. • Spotlight the Results- At the end of the day it really is all about results. Planning and executing perfectly mean nothing if you come up empty. With PR analytic tools you can find out how your programs are performing within a few hours of launching a campaign. You can not only show the clips but link each back to actual dollar value. Companies can now measure how much traffic PR activities have driven to the website, where the traffic is coming from, where are they look- ing and, most importantly, is that traffic leading to sales. Organizations can also compare the PR results to advertising to estimate how many ad dollars would have been needed to produce the same results. For public companies, you can link the stock performance directly to the news coverage and announcements. And remember to showcase your results. Provide your executives with a dashboard so they can immediately see just how much of an impact PR has had on their business.
  • 4. Vocus White Paper 3 Measuring the Marketing ROI on Public Relations Automate and Measure Leading PR management solutions make it easy for organizations to report on the information they use every day to manage their PR efforts, enabling smarter and faster decisions. PR professionals can easily produce easy-to-ready charts and graphs that dissect news coverage and activities to create a comprehensive picture of the PR programs. These principles guide effective measurement for organizations. By integrating measurement across their PR programs, orga- nizations are able to optimize the return on their PR initiatives while simultaneously proving their value to the business. Analysis Done Right: How Southwest Airlines Maximized its PR Impact Southwest Airlines Co. (Southwest), a major domestic airline that provides primarily short-haul, high frequency, low-fare ser- vice, turns to the reporting capabilities in its PR management system to measure key indicators during and after its campaign launches. With campaigns that often run over the course of several months, measuring their results, both during the campaign and after, are essential for the airline to maximize its efforts mid-stream. Effective measurement also supports the PR team’s ability to demonstrate value to airline executives. When rolling out service to the Philadelphia market, Southwest utilized Vocus’ analytic functionality to measure PR success during and post launch. It benchmarked its success in Philadelphia against its other markets. Most importantly, Southwest was able to track its percentage of traveler mindshare against competitors in the market, following key messages and demonstrat- ing PR’s role in the launch. Before launching the new service, Southwest’s PR depart- ment could easily summarize coverage up to the PR launch events to demonstrate how their programs were impacting media coverage in the Philadelphia market. Starting with its first news release, Southwest’s PR department was able to demonstrate how their programs helped to increase the volume of coverage in Philadelphia and the percent of cov- erage that was positive or neutral. During the new service launch, Southwest relied on its PR management solution to analyze how mindshare jumped in relation to a variety of legacy carriers at the Philadel- phia airport. The PR team could pinpoint spikes in mind- share in response to various events, such as the initial announcement about service coming to the city and the actual launch. With reporting, it could also see increases in coverage and how its coverage compared to other air- lines during the same timeframe. It could even break down coverage by reporter. Southwest’s PR team also utilized the analytic tools within its PR management system to study the range in tone of its coverage, examining the mix of positive, negative and neutral stories over time. Its PR team was able to identify the source of negative stories and make extra efforts to encourage more positive coverage in the future. With graphs showing message momentum during and after the launch, the PR team could see how one of its key messages – low fare leadership – appeared in stories in response to its efforts. As a result, the team knew which activities were most effective in helping land those messages in stories. News releases and activities can be automatically associated with the coverage that carried the key message for Southwest. Additionally, Southwest’s PR department was able to show how coverage in Philadelphia influenced coverage in its other markets, such as Los Angeles. Southwest noticed a corresponding increase in clips and mindshare in that market, which it has served for many years. With PR software to help execute its campaign efficiently and measurement tools to understand the impact of its day-to-day efforts, Southwest’s PR team directed a successful launch in Philadelphia. The department continuously analyzed its activities and was able to adjust its strategies in real time. And with the numbers they needed in an easy-to-understand format, Southwest executives could clearly see the value of PR.
  • 5. Vocus White Paper 4 Measuring the Marketing ROI on Public Relations Conclusion The right analysis can result in more successful PR program that provides a quantifiable contribution to the bottom line. Ana- lytic capabilities within PR management technology can help industry-leading organizations better manage and measure their PR efforts. If you have not already established an effective PR management solution that incorporates metrics to increase and demonstrate your positive impact on the business, now is the time. Make sure you are following the rules of good measurement to evaluate the effectiveness of your PR campaign and to increase its impact on the company’s bottom line. Remembering each organization’s needs are as different as the companies them- selves, evaluate PR on the right basis—make sure you meet your own goals and not the industry’s perceived goals! Look at the strengths and weaknesses to find out what is working for your organization so you know what can be improved. Assessing the success of the PR program or the ROI is not about getting a binder full of clips, it is about getting a handful of clips that are right on message and will positively influence the success of the company. Find a solution that will accommodate your requirements and is flexible enough to change and keep up with them. When evaluating a PR management solution, it’s important to look for a tool that incorporates easy-to-use analysis capabili- ties to help refine your programs while demonstrating their successes. With effective measurements in place to better gauge impact, PR professionals can not only improve the overall success of the programs they are running, but they can also prove their increasing contribution to the bottom line. About Vocus, Inc. Vocus, Inc. (NASDAQ: VOCS) is a leading provider of on-demand software for public relations management. Our web-based software suite helps organizations of all sizes to fundamentally change the way they communicate with both the media and the public, optimizing their public relations and increasing their ability to measure its impact. Our on-demand software addresses the critical functions of public relations including media relations, news distribution and news monitoring. Vocus is used by over 2,000 organizations worldwide and is available in five languages. Vocus is based in Lanham, MD, with offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. For more information please visit www.vocus.com or call 800.345.5572.