BREAKING THROUGH: GETTING YOUR MESSAGE TO YOUR AUDIENCE
Did You Hit Your Target?
By Joanne Puckett
Vice President and Research Director, Ketchum
Consider these statistics from the 2008 PRWeek /
MS&L Marketing Management Survey:
- Only 30.6 percent of marketers believe PR agencies do an "excellent" or "very good" job of measuring the effectiveness of their performance, well behind direct marketing agencies (54.8 percent) and Internet / new-media shops (53.2 percent) and also lagging advertising agencies (35.7 percent).
- When asked why they would consider cutting PR budgets, 65.9 percent of marketers cited difficulty in quantifying ROI, lack of effectiveness, or inability to measure PR efforts.
The sentiment behind the numbers is no surprise. Marketers have long viewed public relations results as difficult to measure. What is surprising is that communication professionals don’t do more to counter this thinking. A 2007 survey of senior-level PR practitioners by the Annenberg School for Communications at USC1 revealed that budgetary allocations for evaluation fall within a fairly narrow range, from 5 percent to 7 percent. All too often, post-program evaluation isn’t done at all.
If you understand that research can inform the development of communication programs, recognizing that it also can help determine whether you reached your target is a logical next step. Every communication professional should want to know: Was my message heard? Did it change the target awareness, understanding or behavior? Did it ultimately affect business results?
The metrics used to answer such questions can range from the simple (such as the number of clips generated or total impressions) to the very sophisticated (including a regression analysis to determine how local-market PR affects sales). Here are some ways Ketchum recently has measured success for clients:
- When Kodak entered the inkjet printer category with a new value proposition in 2007, the company looked for PR to drive sales. Advertising was limited and included no TV. One month after the product introduction, the PR team had achieved more than 2,700 news stories, reaching nearly 1.3 billion consumers worldwide. Kodak soon led in share of voice globally. In early 2008, Kodak announced that it had exceeded its sales goal of 500,000 printers.
- A commodity client sought to measure the effectiveness of its marketing communication programs, which aimed to increase awareness, change the attitude of consumers and influencers, increase influencers’ recommendations to consumers and boost sales. Ketchum analysis revealed that for every article placement in a certain region, sales in that region increased by 60,814 pounds of product. Increases in the quality of media coverage (placement of photos with stories vs. without, color photo vs. black and white, etc.) and in persons reached also led to higher sales in each region.
- A consumer product company sought to connect with consumers using its branded Olympic sponsorship platform. After the program, a media analysis revealed that the coverage generated an average quality score of 68.4 out of 100 points. A survey of the target revealed a 31 percent increase in purchase preference. A regression analysis determined that an increase in awareness of 10 percent would generate an increase in sales of 0.86 percent to 1.4 percent. Based partly on this analysis, the company continued the sponsorship the following year.
So, PR results can be measured. Take time to evaluate communication programs after they’re done, but don’t make it an afterthought. Build in research and measurement at the beginning of programs – and budget for it.
1 Fifth Annual Public Relations Generally Accepted Practices Study, University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communications, 2007 data