Without the right PR measurement tools, it’s just dark matter

Black hole concept with deep universe galaxy, planets, stars.
While scientists have spent years trying to prove beyond question that dark matter exists— with some estimates suggesting 80% of the universe’s total mass is invisible to the naked eye— in marketing and comms we have long been able to deliver tangible evidence to show public relations works. So why are some corners of the jury still out?

It all comes down to PR measurement tools, and the effective use of those PR measurement tools to show just how priceless this often-hidden side of the comms mix actually is. Agencies and brands that are failing to utilise these tools aren’t just missing the opportunity to prove the value of their public relations, though, they are missing the opportunity to add more value to the overall output seen as good measurement and evaluation informs future decisions and campaigns.
Focussing on traditional PR, the emphasis has always been on earned media— for an in-depth explanation of what this means take a look at our Guide To Earned Media, although it can be summarised as simply meaning any exposure a brand receives which is not bought or owned by the brand itself.
This could be a magazine article mention, re-tweet, name-drop in a Facebook post, or just about any other reference of the company which cannot be identified as an advert or sponsored content. Here at Smoking Gun, we believe earned to be one of the most precious of all media because such mentions are so hard to come by, and can significantly influence purchasing decisions in those who read, watch or hear them.
From one way of looking at things, as this post on PR Moment goes to show, earned media and the PR it stems from will always represent ‘one of multiple touches in any sale’. By this we mean there is a high probability a sale will have been encouraged by a brand’s earned media, in addition to other marketing efforts.
In the past the problem has been showing this is the case. For decades concrete proof was elusive, with presumption the main way in which clients were convinced of effective public relations work. This is not longer the case, as we have arrived in an era of in-depth PR measurement, with a range of tools at the disposal of brands which can show, without any question, exactly what their output has produced, in turn guiding future efforts.
Over the last two months we have waxed lyrical on how to use PR measurement metrics to drive sales, how to measure PR ROI and why PR measurement matters to your brand. Combine those blogs with this post on what happens if you don’t use PR measurement tools— doubt over the value of public relations surfaces, potentially jeopardising budgets going forward— and you should have a clear understanding on how to lead, rather than follow, the contemporary comms pack.
Read our guide to earned media