Wise Words

Finding the right combination of communication tools, tip #3: Measure

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November 7, 2013

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ruler Finding the right combination of communication tools, tip #3: Measure

This post is part of a three-part series on how PR and marketing professionals select and utilize different communication tools. Throughout the series, we’ll share how our team identifies the perfect combination of tools to achieve an integrated approach to communication.

In our previous posts, we discussed the power of listening to key stakeholders and the benefit of learning as much as possible about your client, its competitors and the industry at large. In the final installment of our three-part series, we will analyze how different tools may be used to measure and refine a public relations or communications plan. So let’s discuss the third tip: MEASURE.

Tip #3: Evaluate your success by measuring it against the objectives outlined in your original plan. Use those findings to influence the planning process and achieve better results in the future.

A company’s success is determined by all of its stakeholders, from the CEO to the first-time customer to the lifelong employee. To understand, analyze and better serve those key publics, businesses must include quantitative metrics and analytics in their communication models and PR campaigns.

Build measurable (and trackable) objectives into the plan

To determine the efficacy of a campaign, always include quantitative and trackable measures of success, and make sure that the client understands and agrees with the metrics as they pertain to its business or initiative.

Successful tracking often requires the client’s cooperation and support as well. For example, your PR team can monitor a client’s social media engagement, but the client may need to track an increase in foot traffic or phone inquiries related to the campaign.

Ensure that the timeframe outlined in your plan allows enough time for you to see tangible results. Public relations is built upon reputations, perceptions and relationships, all of which often require long-term investments of time and energy. Sometimes, it’s impossible to meet certain objectives over a 30- or 60-day time period. Understand that and interpret your analytics accordingly.

Diversify your arsenal of measurement tools

Just as you must diversify your objectives, you must also diversify the type of metrics used to evaluate them.

In the world of social media, not all analytics are created equal. A simple Facebook “like” is different from a post that is shared by multiple users, just as a “mention” that validates your expertise is more valuable than simply adding a follower on Twitter. Website analytics may be limited to general terms such as the number of “views” or “visits” on a given day, whereas Google Analytics allows you to view demographic information such as location, gender and operating system for each visitor.

Traditionally, feedback is one of the most important ways to gauge your reputation and understand how key publics perceive your company. But each public can turn to different platforms to provide feedback. For a local brick and mortar business, Yelp may be the easiest way to share their experiences and opinions. For a global brand, customers are more inclined to express satisfaction or frustration via social media. Monitor all communications channels, and develop an internal program that incentivizes feedback from your customers and/or rewards them for their contributions.

Apply your findings

Now that you’ve dedicated resources to measuring the success of your initial plan, it’s your responsibility to use the information to improve your communications program and reach your goals more effectively.

Let’s say that your initial plan committed equal time to social media and traditional media relations. In the measurement phase, however, you found that customers were more engaged on your Facebook page, while professional partners and allies were more responsive to content posted on Twitter. So, if a future plan prioritizes ally development over customer relations, you may want to focus more energy on the latter social media platform.

As part of that campaign, you might have also fought tooth and nail to earn media coverage for a special event. However, after requesting that attendees list how they learned about the event, it was clear that your small community newspaper generated better results than the larger regional publication. Take note and adjust your outreach accordingly the next time around.

Every communications plan deserves a diverse set of measurement tools. Once metrics are collected and analyzed, however, that information is only as useful insofar as you’re able to apply it to future campaigns. Listen, learn and measure, and know that you’re better equipped to combine communications tools to grow your business.

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