LPP PR Recipes Series: Metrics that Matter
This holiday season, Lois Paul and Partners is bringing you a series of recipes to share the best ingredients and practices required to achieve great PR results. Subscribe to our blog to follow the series and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ for more social content and inspiration year-round.
If you’ve ever watched Alton Brown on Food Network, you know that cooking is a science. If you’ve ever called your mom in the middle of (attempting) to cook a favorite childhood recipe and heard her say, “Well, I don’t know honey, I just add [that spice] until it tastes right!” you also know it’s a bit of an art. But at the end of the day, all that really matters is whether the food tastes good.
In PR, what is “food” and what is “good” can be tough to ascertain, as the terms often mean different things to different clients. This is why it’s important to determine these things at the outset so you know what success looks like.
- Actionable goals and objectives
- Consistent measurement
- Factor in the intangibles
Before you start cooking up a PR plan, it’s important to know what the end goal is. Sit down with your client and identify what they want to achieve and why. Do they want to become a thought leader? Get the word out about a new product? Become a go-to source on social media? Your objectives will have a determinative effect on everything that follows.
Next, prepare a mix of PR strategy and accompanying tactics that will help your client accomplish their goals. These may range from contributed commentary, bylines, standalone articles, a blog series or a revamped social media program. Make sure both you and the client have a clear understanding of what the strategy and tactics are, what success looks like for each one and, most importantly, why. For example, is it an increase in Twitter followers or a jump in retweets and replies that is most meaningful? Will one quote in a number of articles or a single standalone story bring your client closer to their end goal?
Stir your strategies and tactics mix -- Share your story with reporters to earn coverage, draft and pitch that byline, create Twitter content with your client. And while all this is going on, measure, measure, measure! Whether you’re reporting success to the client on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual basis, make sure that you’re keeping track of the metrics regularly regardless.
Don’t forget the intangibles! While it may be impossible to say that this tweet lead to this story which lead to this sales lead, don’t discount the things you can’t directly explain. It may not have been this tweet that lead to your story, but a series of tweets that depicted the client as an industry thought leader, which prompted a reporter’s curiosity and when you reached out with a pitch, that reporter was more receptive than they would have been if they hadn’t seen that string of tweets. You may not have a metric for it, but it’s still a success, as long as it aligns to an end goal.
Finally, the last and most important step: report. Put together materials that showcase performance against the agreed-on metrics. Discuss what worked and what didn’t and why. This report is the chance to put everything together in context for clients. Frequently, clients know that they want something ("More Twitter followers is good right?") but they don’t really have time to consider the details – for example, not all followers represent an increase in influence. Work with your clients to ensure that they understand not only what the numbers say, but also why they are meaningful and representative of movement towards the end goal.
Remember, as with cooking, every recipe is different. Each mix of PR strategies and tactics will be unique to each client and so will the measurement schema. But just as with good food, both careful preparation and knowing when to throw in that extra dash of sugar will leave everyone feeling satisfied at the end of the meal.