Documenting The Business Outcomes


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Purpose: To advance public relations measurement by recommending metrics and approaches for evaluating public relations’ influence on four main business outcomes:
o Financial
o Reputation / Brand Equity
o Employees and other Internal Publics
o Public Policy

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  • This group of authors, all members of the Institute for Public Relations’ Measurement Commission, has developed this presentation to help practitioners document the relationship between public relations activities and business results. It is part of a broader effort to showcase the critical role public relations plays in driving business performance.
  • Public relations outcomes generally fall into four buckets, which are often interconnected. The authors recognize that public relations may effect businesses in ways not found in these buckets; however, these four cover most possible outcomes. We also recognize that public relations is used for purposes beyond those that directly impact an organization’s business; this work is focused on public relations’ role in achieving business outcomes and verifying its true relevance as a marketing and management discipline.
  • Our fundamental goal is to change how we talk about what public relations accomplishes. Instead of meaningless catch phrases, such as “create buzz” or “drive stakeholder relations,” our approach focuses on identifying meaningful expressions of business performance, suggesting more appropriate measurement metrics and recommending proven tools for demonstrating how those metrics were impacted.
  • Before choosing metrics and measurement approaches, you must write objectives. If you don’t know where you are going, it will be hard to determine if you’ve arrived. Answering these four questions creates objectives that can be measured. Much of the rest of this presentation focuses on the “what” and “who” parts of this goal-setting. We also provide approaches aimed at “how much” and “by when.”
  • We’re asking public relations practitioners to help professionalize our field by increasing the use of business terminology in discussions of what public relations “does.” Stop talking about public relations in terms such as “buzz” and “clips.” Instead, conduct the conversation in the language of business. What follows are the ways that public relations affects business and proven approaches to measuring them.
  • Here we see how public relations affects financial performance, whether it be sales of a company’s products or donations to a non profit. But, public relations also can make a company’s marketing more efficient through better audience targeting and less costly approaches to reaching audiences. Public relations also can help an organization weather a crisis, avoid catastrophic loss and protect its reputation.
  • Measuring how public relations affects business performance is about finding and measuring linkages; when did the public relations campaign occur and did sales change or stock price vary over the same time period, for example. And in the case of efficiency, look at spending before and after. Crisis avoidance is the toughest to measure, because it is often about what didn’t happen. Look for similar examples of companies that did not avoid the crisis.
  • A huge role for public relations is improving reputation, image or brand equity. The results of doing so are listed here.
  • Measurement of reputation change is most often done by survey. Good surveys include questions that allow one to isolate how public relations activities are moving the needle. It’s all about linkages, most often uncovered through statistical analysis. Yet, one also can simply tie data on total press coverage (e.g., traditional and social) to a host of consumer or other behaviors toward a company. Remember, it’s all about linkages.
  • While we talk about employees in these next two slides, we’re really referring to a broader set of internal publics, such as contractors, business partners and organization members. Basically, it’s about creating a stronger bond between an organization and its internal publics through the skilled public relations practitioner’s efforts. Those bonds create better business results.
  • Remember, it’s all about showing where public relations activities occurred and how things changed. Matching data and linking outcomes to communications is the key. That said, remember that quantitative, representative results are best obtained through surveys or hard data, not through focus groups or more qualitative approaches.
  • Public relations affects public policy usually in the form of public affairs activities. The result is a change in the realm of political, regulatory or legislative outcomes. From a company’s perspective, it’s how those changes affect the bottom line.
  • Measuring public relations’ effects on public policy changes can be quite easy or very hard. For example, there are many publicly available surveys from news organizations, foundations and academic institutions. On the other hand, surveying legislators is next to impossible, where even if a survey is completed, it’s probably been filled out by an intern. Consider using influentials as a proxy for legislators, since that 10 to 20 percent of the general public usually leads public opinion and policy change (see “The Influentials” by Ed Keller and Jon Berry for a better explanation.
  • Knowing where you’re starting from and defining meaningful change is often the hardest part. Your goal is to find good data on your own company, others, industry benchmarks, etc. Many organizations collect useable information for this purpose, but it’s often in a different department, such as market analytics or advertising.
  • Here are some very rough estimates of measurement costs. There are a number of companies who can quickly provide quotes.
  • There are a number of good resources to help you get started. Public relations measurement is a fully developed field. There is no reason not to measure the business outcomes from public relations.
  • Documenting The Business Outcomes

    1. <ul><li>Public Relations Society of America Measurement Working Group </li></ul><ul><li>September, 2009 </li></ul>Documenting the Business Outcomes of Public Relations David Rockland, Ketchum (Chair) Pauline Draper-Watts, IPR Measurement Commission Chair Katie Paine, KD Paine & Partners Mark Weiner, Prime Research Don Wright, Boston University
    2. Purpose <ul><li>To advance public relations measurement by recommending metrics and approaches for evaluating public relations’ influence on four main business outcomes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Financial </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reputation / Brand Equity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Employees and other Internal Publics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public Policy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Note that there are four types of business outcomes, one often connected with another. While not covering every conceivable business outcome, the authors feel that the vast majority of results are included here. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    3. <ul><li>This document: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Recommends a lexicon and approaches for measuring the effects of public relations on business outcomes. It answers the question, “What do you make when you make public relations?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reflects the authors’ initial work, with contributions by PRSA staff and extensive commentary and ideas from a wide range of PRSA members. The authors are all members of the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) Commission on Public Relations Measurement and Evaluation and have sought to bring IPR’s perspective to this work. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is not intended as a recommendation or endorsement of any particular research or measurement provider or company. </li></ul></ul>A Caveat
    4. <ul><li>Whom are you seeking to affect? </li></ul><ul><li>What about them are you seeking to affect? </li></ul><ul><li>How much must they be affected to be successful? </li></ul><ul><li>By when does this effect need to occur? </li></ul>Answer Four Questions Before Measuring Note that public relations goals should be relevant , realistic , specific , measureable and timely .
    5. Your Role / Responsibility <ul><li>Put public relations program goals into business terms. </li></ul><ul><li>Document a clear set of measurable objectives. </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure adequate budget for measurement. </li></ul><ul><li>Use measurement prescriptively to change and improve the public relations program. </li></ul><ul><li>If your experience in measurement and research is not extensive, be prepared to include a measurement specialist in your plan. </li></ul><ul><li>Shift the conversation away from volume of clips, social media activity, advertising value equivalency, etc., to outcome measures that show how public relations drives business performance. </li></ul>
    6. PR’s Impact on Financial Performance <ul><li>Generates Revenue, Sales, Profit </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketing public relations drives sales. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Investor public relations drives investment, valuation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public relations drives donations and membership for relevant organizations. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Enhances Efficiency </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Better audience targeting. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Delivering a credible message to more people for less money. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Avoids Catastrophic Cost </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Effective counsel helps mitigate impact of crises. </li></ul></ul>
    7. Measuring Financial Outcomes <ul><li>Revenue Generation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consumer response: Field consumer survey; determine purchase levels and exposure to public relations results; isolate causal effects through statistical analysis. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Market Mix Modeling / Econometric Modeling: Gather public relations output / outcome data in conjunction with other marketing activity by market, by marketing function, by region and by time period; factor by revenue-generation by market, by region and over time. Apply regression analysis. </li></ul></ul>
    8. Measuring Financial Outcomes <ul><li>Efficiency </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Determine comparative cost of different communication approaches; calculate percent of target reached; determine change in purchase cycle resulting from public relations activity. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Catastrophic Cost Avoidance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assess competitors and peers who may have faced similar crises. Track emergence of their crisis and impact on sales, stock price and relevant business measures to evaluate the potential impact that was avoided. </li></ul></ul>
    9. PR’s Impact on Reputation / Brand Equity <ul><li>Increases likelihood to purchase / consider your brand(s). </li></ul><ul><li>Minimizes the effects of a crisis and rebuilds trust. </li></ul><ul><li>Reinforces communication of organizational values. </li></ul><ul><li>Establishes credibility of new products / companies; eases market entry. </li></ul>
    10. PR’s Impact on Reputation / Brand Equity <ul><li>Commands higher prices, lowers costs, generates premium on stock price. </li></ul><ul><li>Enhances recommendations / word-of-mouth, accelerating adoption. </li></ul><ul><li>Increases customer loyalty / renewals / satisfaction. </li></ul><ul><li>Improves talent acquisition and retention. </li></ul><ul><li>Lowers legal costs. </li></ul>
    11. Measuring Reputational Outcomes <ul><li>Benchmark reputation / relationship metrics via survey prior to a campaign; repeat every three to six months. </li></ul><ul><li>Correlate attitudinal studies with customer purchase attitudes and behavior. </li></ul><ul><li>Map conversations (and tone) in traditional and social media to Web analytic data, e.g., registrations, requests for information, sales leads, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Map conversations / reputation to financial analyst opinions and stock price volatility. </li></ul><ul><li>Correlate share of thought leadership visibility to adoption of policy positions. </li></ul>
    12. PR’s Impact on Employees <ul><li>Increases employee satisfaction and engagement, leading to greater efficiency, increased retention, reduced turnover, lower recruiting costs and higher productivity. </li></ul><ul><li>Lowers legal costs. </li></ul><ul><li>Changes employee behavior, such as increasing focus on key areas such as safety, quality, call response times. </li></ul><ul><li>Provides greater transparency. </li></ul><ul><li>Increases commitment to and from employees. </li></ul><ul><li>Creates a platform to communicate bad news, if necessary. </li></ul>Note that items here also can refer to other internal publics, such as trade association members.
    13. Measuring Employee Outcomes <ul><li>Compare control groups to employee populations exposed to public relations activities. </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on performance outcomes, not attitudes or awareness. </li></ul><ul><li>Match / correlate messaging data to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Employee satisfaction and engagement findings. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Employee turnover statistics and other recruitment data. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Call response times. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Customer experience surveys. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consider other research tools and data — focus groups, exit interview data, sick days, etc. </li></ul>
    14. <ul><li>Creates public awareness, understanding and support for legislation, regulation and political candidates. </li></ul><ul><li>Affects voter behavior. </li></ul><ul><li>Helps pass legislation, regulation and initiatives. </li></ul><ul><li>Affects specific companies and industries through appropriations, taxes and regulatory changes that can affect any and all aspects of a business. </li></ul><ul><li>Instigates and perpetuates grassroots or grass-tops campaigns. </li></ul>PR’s Impact on Public Policy
    15. Measuring Policy Outcomes <ul><li>Use available national (e.g., major network polls) or local (e.g., university polling centers) public tracking services to track changes in awareness, understanding, support and voter intent. Where possible, link to level of public relations activity. </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct tracking survey of key politicians or regulators. Can often use influentials’ awareness as a proxy for elected officials, as well as to measure the “edge” of a trend. </li></ul><ul><li>Post-election surveys can isolate specific effects of public relations by determining actual voting behavior, as well as levels of exposure to different communication mediums. </li></ul><ul><li>Actual public or legislator voting behavior. </li></ul>
    16. Setting Effective Benchmarks <ul><li>Acceptable: Your own performance over time. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make sure time frames match Web analytics, marketing data. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Factor in milestones, new staff, new products, new leadership . </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Better: Peer organizations — think three: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An underdog who is nipping at your heels. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Your closest rival. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A stret ch goal. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Best: The competition — whoever / whatever keeps your C-Suite up at night. </li></ul>
    17. <ul><li>Measurement costs should average 3 – 7 percent of a total public relations budget, based on research by USC Annenberg. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask client to use existing survey and tracking resources often available through consumer insights or market analytics department. </li></ul>Budget Considerations
    18. <ul><li>Some ballpark costs: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Survey (based on 20-question survey of 1,000 individuals): $15,000 to $35,000, depending on target audience. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus group: $5,000 to $8,000 each. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Three-question omnibus survey: $3,000. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Zoomerang / Survey Monkey or in-house survey: $2,500 to $5,000. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Media analysis — 100 articles: $1,000 to $5,000. </li></ul></ul>Budget Considerations Note that each cost can vary greatly depending on project parameters.
    19. <ul><li>Institute for Public Relations. </li></ul><ul><li>PRSA Measurement Toolkit. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Primer of Public Relations Research,” by Don W. Stacks (Gilford). </li></ul><ul><li>“ Evaluating Public Relations: A Best Practice Guide to Public Relations Planning, Research and Evaluation,” Second Edition by Tom Watson and Paul Noble (Kogan Page). </li></ul><ul><li>“ Unleashing the Power of PR:  A Contrarian’s Guide to Marketing and Communication,” by Mark Weiner (Jossey Bass). </li></ul><ul><li>“ Measuring Public Relationships: The Data-Driven Communicator’s Guide to Success,” by Katie Delahaye Paine (KD Paine & Partners). </li></ul>Resources to Get Started
    20. <ul><li>Our mission is to make public relations a critical part of an organization’s business. To do so, we must talk about what public relations can accomplish in business terms, and have the confidence that we can measure our contribution to the bottom line. </li></ul><ul><li>We welcome your feedback, comments and questions. </li></ul><ul><li>Thank you. </li></ul>In Conclusion