PR Clients Demand More, Better Measurement

June 25, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Agency Business | Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Europe & Middle East | PR | Radio | Television

Though 88% of PR practitioners believe measurement is an integral part of the PR process and 77% are currently tracking their programs for increasingly demanding clients, PR pros still do not agree on the best tools and methodologies to use, according to a recent survey.

The research, which was carried out by Benchpoint for The Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) and the Institute for Public Relations (IPR), was conducted among an international sample of 520 PR pros. It found that more practitioners than ever are measuring the effectiveness of their communications programs, especially in response to client needs.

Client Measurement Demands Increasing

Clients, in general, are beoming more price sensitive, the study found. At the same time, they are asking their PR agencies to measure in more effective and targeted ways, especially in new media and in specific geographic areas.

General client trends toward PR measurement:

  • Client demand for measurement of online communications increased from 29% in 2008 to 41% in 2009.
  • Client demand for broadcast media evaluation is up from 15% of assignments in 2008 to 25% in 2009.
  • 77% of clients commission single country measurement programs or projects.
  • 69% of survey respondents say procurement specialists are becoming more involved in the purchase of measurement and evaluation services.

Disagreement on Measures

While an increasing number of clients are keeping their eye on metrics, most PR pros still judge their success by their ability to place material in the media rather than on the impact such coverage might have on shifting opinion, awareness, or moving markets.

This trend appears to be changing, the survey found. While the number of press clippings and advertising value equivalent (AVE) calculations remain perennial favorites, PR practitioners are now turning to more rigorous tools including internal reviews, benchmarking, the use of specialist media evaluation tools, focus groups and opinion polling.

The data indicates there are two camps – the output measurers (clippings and AVEs) and the outcome measurers who prefer more cerebral – and costly- measures (internal reviews, opinion polls etc).

“The survey presents a clear challenge to the media evaluation industry that more education is needed within the PR industry to demonstrate the business benefits of proper evaluation rather than continue to rely on clippings and AVEs,” said Mike Daniels, member of the Commission on PR Measurement & Evaluation and chairman of AMEC’s Business Development Committee.

Additional survey findings:

  • The majority of PR pros (88%) think measurement is an integral part of the PR process, and 70% believe this strongly.
  • The number of respondents (77%) who claim to measure their work is up from 69% in a similar survey five years ago.
  • Measuring ROI (return on investment) on communications is viewed as an achievable goal by the overwhelming majority of professional communicators taking part in the survey.

Barry Leggetter, executive director of AMEC, said: “It’s ironic but it has probably taken a recession to be the turning point for achieving a breakthrough in the recognition of the value that proper measurement can bring to a PR program.”

A full report with findings of the survey will be available at the end of July 2009.

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