Corrina Safeio explains how measuring behaviour change is a must-have to keep media relations campaigns relevant.
I came away from the PRWeek Measurement conference with a crystal-clear takeaway: if we cannot tell the story of a campaign’s impact in terms of behaviour change and the bottom line, then media relations will become obsolete.
PR is competing for budget against channels with real-time metrics like programmatic and social, channels where ROI can be specifically reported. Contrasted to these, traditional metrics of cuttings and impressions feel incredibly non-competitive and abstract. Fatally, if we fail to show the impact of our PR work, we will also fail to make the case for further investment.
However, the problem of ‘impact’ is much greater than this – simply ploughing money into the flashy metrics of digital performance alone is not a way to generate more. There would be no depth to a campaign like this, no investment in brand. This is a recipe to be immediately forgettable.
In understanding the true story of impact, the humble funnel remains an exceptionally powerful tool. It shows the need to drive both broad awareness and brand building as well as activity to drive intent and crucially, that conversion.
Focusing just on the ROI of ‘conversion’ channels is a short-term strategy that will fail at driving long-term impact – a balance must be struck. There’s a great case study by Adidas that really speaks to this.
To achieve this and to understand the story of impact, there are two set of metrics we should always include up and down that funnel.
Firstly, channel KPIs that speak to the effectiveness of the activity, not just the volume. We need to be using digital metrics to show how effective media relations are, as well as earning quality coverage. This includes, for example, an increase in searches, backlinks, domain authority, growth in web traffic, a rise in click-through rate, and so on.
Secondly, we need to look at outcomes, not just outputs (something the industry does seem to be waking up to). I’d love to see more evidence of using primary research to create benchmarks of intent before and after activity and reported behaviour change alongside sales and health data. So many campaigns throw their activity out there without first asking ‘how are people behaving today?’ and then ‘are they behaving differently because of our campaign?’.
The story of a campaign’s impact has to demonstrate not just that it was creatively compelling (though without this, don’t bother) but also that it’s strategically sound and has worked to change behaviour. As an industry, getting better at telling this story of impact will help us all.
This is why, at Pegasus, our uniting purpose of ‘inspiring healthy decisions’ is good at keeping us honest when it comes to focusing on impact. We have cross-channel teams constantly looking at how to tell this story better for us, and for our clients. After all, if we don’t know whether we achieved impact or not, our ‘purpose’ becomes just an empty promise on a PowerPoint template. And no one comes to work for that.