While marketing budgets increase, proof of return on investment for that spend is proving difficult to find, according to a survey of around 1,000 agencies conducted by Simply Measured. So why is effective PR measurement so elusive?
The research shows that 60.4% of respondents— who were all social media or marketing managers and directors— saw gathering evidence of ROI the biggest working challenge, with just 35.5% citing ‘tying social to business goals’ as a bigger problem.
A key reason for the issue seems to be a lack of agreed approach to PR measurement, or at least what needs to be measured. 57.8% of those involved in the survey focussed on engagement metrics when it comes to evaluating success. Meanwhile, 23.6% viewed conversion and revenue as the key indicators of a good campaign.
Clearly this makes internal, but more importantly industry-wide analysis very difficult. How can we judge success against peers if they are not assessing their output in the same way as us?
Smoking Gun has long been regarded as one of the UK’s leading comms agencies, with PR measurement and evaluation one of our major strengths. AMEC lists us as an analytical champion, and this is because we have a clear strategy for PR measurement that applies to all clients— including how to deliver real ROI evidence.
Not so long ago we blogged on how PR ROI was relative, and the importance of agreeing on specific goals within a PR strategy before any campaign is rolled out. This then sets the benchmark for standards to be judged against when trying to assess how effective your work has been.
Needless to say, then, the situation makes it incredibly difficult to decide on any kind of industry-wide approach to measurement and evaluation, and may well explain some of the stats mentioned above. Logic dictates different agencies are going to analyse output in different ways if there were different goals set in the first place.
None of which means it’s OK to simply ignore what others are doing, and more importantly what they are achieving, writing their campaign results off as irrelevant. By doing this you have even less to gauge things on.
Instead, this post should reiterate the importance of brands choosing proven agency partners who can help guide and direct the overall marketing and PR strategy— pros who realise that ROI analysis and PR measurement cannot be fixed, with the required ongoing tweaks, amends and adjustments to suit specific campaigns a full-time job in themselves.