Proving Your Worth: PR Measurement as a Way to CFOs' Good Books





Interview with Darryl Sparey, Business Development Director, UK, Hotwire








During his visit to Moscow, we sat with Darryl Sparey, Hotwire's Business Development Director in UK and enquired him about things which are becoming increasingly important in communicators' everyday lives: measurement of PR, setting proper goals and aligning them with business objectives. Check out a great read on how the rapidly transforming comms industry in the UK and increasingly all over the world learns to sell business value instead of ephemeral brand awareness.

Q: How has PR measurement changed in last 10 years? What are the key metrics that communicators and companies should use now?

A: There have been lots of changes in the last ten years. There has been significant consolidation in the supply side of media measurement – with major international businesses like Cision and Kantar Media now offering global media analysis services. PR agencies have increasingly brought analytical capabilities in-house, and many agencies like Hotwire now have in-house analysis and insight functions. AMEC (the Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication) has made huge strides in developing an agreed taxonomy of terminology for measurement, and tools to put it into action, as well as internationalising the use of measurement best practice. But perhaps the single biggest change in the last ten years has been the advent of digital metrics for measuring the effectiveness of all marketing disciplines, including PR. Communicators have an opportunity like never before to use digital measurement techniques to prove a direct relationship between their activity and brand awareness, consideration or sales.

Q: Are there any metrics one can make use of without costly platforms or agencies?
A: Yes – lots! In a recent presentation I did I showed how each of the steps in the typical sales funnel (Awareness / Consideration / Preference / Purchase) can be measured:

  • Awareness – Brand search on Google or unprompted mentions on social media are a good proxy for brand awareness
  • Consideration – Referral traffic from earned media, return visits or dwell time on product landing pages on your website, inbound leads from content produced by PR
  • Preference - Unprompted positive mentions on social media, increase in positive mentions on key trade media / online forums

If you're looking to measure your reputation versus competitors, this can be more costly, however.

Q: Do we have to bid farewell to metrics like PR Value or AVE?

A: Let's hope so! I'm not going to run through all of the reasons why Advertising Value Equivalent is a flawed metric. I'll simply say, go and explain it to your CFO and see if they gives you more money for PR next year. They almost certainly won't. Instead, look for other ways to show PR's impact on the top line, on the bottom line, or on the reputation of the business – some of the above are a good place to start.

Q: Do various marketing communications require different measurement approach? For instance, is there a difference in how we measure GR or HR comms impact?

A: Absolutely. Going back to the AMEC framework for media evaluation, start with the impact that you're looking to have on the business, on internal or external audiences, and then work back from there to define the outcomes, outtakes and outputs which will drive this. The AMEC framework is a great place to start, and as Simon Sinek would say, "start with why" and work back from there.

Key Performance Indicators are just that – the key or most important indicators of performance. You may well experience KPIs indicating that everything is performing well, but the impact you're looking for not happening.
Q: In Russia, due to various circumstances, the KPIs may replace goals, which leads to a situation when the company performs well according to KPIs yet does not move forward. What can a company do in such a situation?

A: Key Performance Indicators are just that – the key or most important indicators of performance. You may well experience KPIs indicating that everything is performing well, but the impact you're looking for not happening. Revisit the KPIs that you're using as a business to ensure that you're measuring the right things, though. And don't just measure what you can, or what's easiest to measure. Just because you can measure the volume of coverage that your team or PR agency produces, there may well be no correlation between volume of media coverage and business performance if the coverage is in the wrong places, reaching the wrong audiences.




I would advise businesses to start by auditing what tools they have at their disposal already, and working across "silos" within the business to try and use these first. Work with your colleagues in other marketing functions to see what tools you already have.
April 19/ 2018
Q: In Russia we have a popular measurement/monitoring system called Medialogia. Their 'Media Index' has become a would-be industry standard for measurement. It includes quantity and quality of publications, tone, main role of the analysed object in a publication, rating of a medium, etc. Are there international 'indexes' like that? Do you have one in UK/US companies?

A: These "generic" measures haven't tended to succeed in markets that I've worked in western Europe and the US and North America for PR, to be honest. I suspect that in markets where businesses can invest more in tailored media analysis, benchmarking against competitors, measuring their specific performance metrics, and have existing budgets for these, they use these. There are services like RepTrak in the UK and US which provide a generic benchmark of corporate reputations, based on consumer research, but these haven't yet seen the same levels of traction as social media analysis or online analysis tools.

Q: What international monitoring/measurement services for brand awareness or share of voice are there? What should Russian companies (which enter the global market) consider in terms of measurement in their communications?

A: I would advise businesses to start by auditing what tools they have at their disposal already, and working across "silos" within the business to try and use these first. Work with your colleagues in other marketing functions to see what tools you already have - Google Analytics, social media and online monitoring tools, SEO analysis tools, amongst others, can all show an impact that PR and communications efforts are having on traffic, search engine rankings, brand awareness, sales and many other things that matter to businesses. Work out what tools you already have, before you look to invest in more.


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