The measurement of public relations performance was a neglected area for a long time, due to a lack of reliable metrics and comparable data. But demand from the C-suite for ways to measure the ROI and top-level impacts of their communications output is driving the development of better measurement methods. CEOs recognise PR activity as a key influencer of reputation, recruiting and revenue, and they want to be able to accurately track its success.
Challenges to tangible measurement lie in the vastly varied scopes, targets and formats of today’s public relations strategies. These variables cloud the data executives might otherwise use to inform business decisions. The evolution of artificial intelligence and particularly natural language processing (NLP) is, however, providing new ways of quantifying the benefits of PR campaigns. AI-driven media monitoring enables the extraction of topics, keywords and sentiment from massive volumes of content, allowing comms teams to produce data reports of how campaigns are received; the share of voice achieved; and visibility with target audiences.
Illustrating the response generated by campaigns allows the PR teams to demonstrate their value. When correlated to business performance before and after the release of specific campaigns, the value to the organisation of its PR work can be accurately tracked. And in concert with the growth of media monitoring we’ve seen the creation and refinement of the Barcelona Principles framework, providing guidelines for PR practitioners to measure the less easily quantifiable elements of their campaigns. This approach differs substantially from the once commonly employed advertising value equivalency (AVE) metrics.