Do you need Public Relations (Part2)

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There are flow charts of modules and matrixes. A good practitioner will offer suggestions of formulas for measuring your PR.

There’s also the classic model, used in the 80's, but rarely seen these days; to multiply the size of the editorial by 10 times the advertising cost of the same space. This really doesn’t stand up when comparing a paragraph in the Australian Financial Review with a full page feature in the Outback Gazette.

Then, there is the most novel, but often overlooked, measurement to beat them all.  Ask the client.  Obvious as it sounds, it is the most innovative and unconventional  measurement that ensure an all smiles happy ending. 

In every PR proposal, there should be a component dedicated to accountability and measurability. It is often an area of little thought, compared to machinations over budget. 

Sometimes measuring is straightforward.  One example is a listed medical company that an agency had been been working with over a period of three years. The Therapeutic Goods Association regulations forbid any form of advertising. They didn’t even have a website.  All they had was a modest PR component.  With quantative research it was possible to demonstrate target consumer recognition increased by thirty percent from the beginning of the campaign.  For this company,PR was a clear winner.

A ceramic tile company initiated a very long and convoluted accountability system related to sales results however the PR team were not in the shops selling the products nor were they responsible for the signage and shop display. PR achieved editorial coverage in every homeowner magazine and renovator show across the nation. The clients were well pleased. But the light went on, a few months into the account, when the PR agency learnt just by chance, that the market the client dreamed of was architects.  Success then became easy to measure.  The agency targeted trade-media and set up a marketing campaign for architects.  Not only did PR help open a lucrative new market, but success became easy to measure as they hadn’t had any architects as clients before the PR campaign.

Revealing past relationships

There is often confusion arising around the real objective of a campaign and in which areas the PR has control. PR, by its very nature, is different for each client. Clients' requirements and needs differ and so do the services and solutions a PR agency provides.

In some instances, PR can be called "mind stylists".  It’s not all media. For some clients the job isprimarily publicity focused. Often, there is no strategy or marketing and PR needs to start from the beginning.  The brief may be tolaunch a new product or company, developing and implementing a communications strategy.  PR’s are also responsible for brand and reputation management.  Sometimes it’s purely online collateral or writing a brochure.  There might also be media training and issues management

The whole brief and nothing but the brief

An example of a brief received by a PR agency was to increase the profile for an online service.  Brilliant media releases were duly executed, the press conference was well attended and coverage received in the likes of AFR, BRW, Company Director magazine and on and on.  The client was so thrilled that he spent his weekends frolicking in his press clippings and papered his office wall with them.  He was quoted and interviewed by luminaries.

A few months down the track, the client said he’d like to increase the campaign.  He wanted even more coverage.  The PRinstinct advised caution.  Bathed in the media glow the client was thrilled by new found fame. The media training day gave him the final polish. The articles and speaking engagements prompted visitors to the site. The client had increased his profile, but there was a fundamental flaw.  His website.  When the fancy flash page eventually downloaded, the visitors who hadn't already given up and left the site, were frustrated and disappointed.  The website was clearly done by someone graphically gifted but not in sync with the market.  It wasn’t until the agency redid the website that business took off. 

Hand in hand with the job or hard job

Public relations is a complex function that encompasses analysis, research, design, planning, action, communication and evaluation requiring specialists’ knowledge and skills.  Simply remunerating a PR agency or consultant doesn’t guarantee success.  If it’s not in line with the brand, it just doesn’t deliver value.  The marketer and PR need to work closely and clearly to define expectations, deliverables and measures.

Source:   Elizabeth Heusler

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