Media coverage gained through PR activity is a nice validation of spending all that time, money and effort in developing a strategy and hiring a PR agency, but it’s not as clear-cut as you think.
Measuring the effect of PR
There’s a pervasive myth that PR cannot be measured. This is not the case; metrics such as website hits and readership/circulation figures following media coverage are common ways to judge the effect of the coverage. You can also measure responses received when you share the coverage with your networks, for example with potential clients, clients, and social media followers, and you can even analyse the keywords being searched in Google—do they resemble a media announcement or wording in an article?
There is, of course, the ongoing effect of good PR management, which is hitting the first pages of a search engine when people search for your name or business name, and even the ability to avoid or reduce negative or inaccurate coverage during a crisis.
Don’t forget that PR isn’t just for publicity or sales. Good PR will help you to secure sponsorship, pitch for new business, or sell a business due to its positive effect on your credibility and image—getting someone over the line in this manner is certainly a measurable effect!
A good PR agent will certainly enhance your reputation, but even the best PR agents cannot guarantee media coverage. There are many variables that can affect media coverage, ranging from bad timing, such as a breaking story (do you think your organisation could compete with the news the day Philip Seymour Hoffman died of an alleged heroin overdose?) to a change of editor or staff at the media outlet.
A good PR agent will be able to help you in finding a newsworthy angle for your organisation to increase the chances the media will pick up your story. Most will specialise in a few industries so if they have media experience in your area they’re also more likely to have good relationships with key media people, which increases your chances of coverage.
Be cautious of PRs that do guarantee you coverage. This could mean that you will get media coverage in irrelevant or ineffective media outlets (for example, Australian Goat World magazine may not be read by your ideal clients if you are a transcription business!) rather than strategically placed, valuable coverage.
Don’t mistake PR for hype—PR is a continuous process that strengthens your brand. Media coverage is just one part of the way PRs can enhance your brand, which you can measure using methods other than sales or clients. Open your eyes to the entire spectrum of what PR can do for your business.