How to boost PR budgets using measurement

How to boost PR budgets using measurement

If you value PR and if you think it delivers value as a marketing tool, it’s time to consider serious approaches to measuring it.

Measurement is a crucial element of the work carried out by communications professionals. Many agencies and clients remain misguidedly obsessed with counting ‘stuff’ – be it coverage numbers, impressions, or totally discredited AVE’s (Advertising Value Equivalents). The fixation with measurement can often put an undue focus on uninformative vanity metrics and put pressure on demonstrating the palpable benefits of PR, which is a challenge when aiming for bigger budgets.

With November marking the Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communications' Measurement Month, it’s time to take a long hard look at how we're planning, executing, optimising and reporting on the activities we undertake to communicate the value of what we do effectively and explain both why it’s important and why it’s worth more.

At Hotwire, we’re proud to be a supporter of AMEC and its admirable efforts to champion best practice. Here are some key points to consider to get the most out of measurement when striving for a bigger communications budget.

Benchmark, measure, and show demonstrable improvement

Proof points matter. It’s important to question if the client’s proposed claims can be substantiated. If you're pitching for budget for a campaign or specific activity – be it product launch, a re-brand, or moving into a new market – it’s important to ask yourself, can you objectively quantify where things are now, and where you would like them to be in the future? We are lucky to live in an age where data is available everywhere to back up the assertions or calculations that you are able to make.

Compete, and show a better return

Practitioners need to roll up their sleeves and get stuck into the data

We need to be able to roll our sleeves up, and get stuck into the data and be able to compare, benchmark and show how PR and communications programmes are performing on a like-for-like basis when we're competing for budget. At Hotwire, we have run campaigns for clients that have delivered a lower Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) rate for new customers than any other marketing channel. In highly competitive, high margin market places like financial services, real estate and gaming, Cost Per Click (CPC) rates on Google AdWords can be well over £50.

Speak the same language

Quite often, we will notice disconnect between clients internally, which can provide polarising opinions on what the main ‘end goal’ is for a client’s PR activity. Across the industry, reports on PR and communications activity are couched in terminology which is not spoken by other members of the board. Whether it’s “increasing our share in tier one media” or “seeing success from our earned-first approach”, none of this will mean anything to anyone else. It’s crucial to communicate in the same language as the rest of the Board to ensure you are heard loud and clear when it comes to objectives. Failure to get to the bottom of organisational objectives leads to woolly thinking and work that, no matter how creative, will be wide off the mark in the client’s eyes and is likely to result in not getting the sign-off for that additional budget.

Be brave

At Hotwire, we are firm believers in establishing some sort of qualitative measure of bravery. Are clients willing to try something a little different or even out-there to distinguish themselves from the crowd? Appreciating a brand’s appetite for risk in a communications context can be very useful, and allow you to push for bigger budget ideas.

We’ve a lot to be grateful for as PR practitioners when it comes to measurement – with the ever evolving industry providing us with better, trusted news sources and the growth in the importance of brand as a source of traffic and, ultimately, sales, giving PR an importance to companies like never before.

But we need to ensure that we communicate in a language that the rest of the business speaks to take the next step and consequently, increase the budgets we command for desired activity.