FRIDAY 12 SEP 2014 10:44 AM


One of the most striking statistics to come out of the PRCA’s Digital PR Report 2014 is that 64% of in-house respondents said they felt confident in their ability to measure ROI on digital and social media public relations. Additionally, 71% said they felt confident in measuring ROI of traditional PR.

Measurement and evaluation is one of the few ways in which communicators have been able to demonstrate, in black and white, the influence they have on a business’ bottom line. The confidence shown in the Digital PR Report is a sign that measurement is becoming more useful and more used, but also invokes some scepticism regarding the degree of confidence surrounding measurement.

“I guess they’re talking about the confidence they have in the ability to measure ROI,” PRCA Digital Group chair and head of digital, consumer for Weber Shandwick EMEA & UK, says, “ROI in itself is a difficult thing to get your hands around. What ROI means to one company is very different to what it means to another company.”

He adds, however, that digital changed the way measurement was approached, “When digital came along, everyone thought we’d be able to prove that what we are doing is making an impact somewhere that really matters. What we’ve found over the last 10 years I actually whilst all those tools should in theory make it easier, customer journeys aren’t linear.”

Measurement relies, as it always has done, on objectives. If a campaign sets out to raise brand awareness, a measurement of sales or sign-ups, might not be entirely accurate. Digital tools provide access to new modes of measurement and heaps of data, but what they can’t do is analyse that data in relation to the campaign’s goals.

The Digital PR Report also identified a discrepancy between the services agencies provide and the services in-house teams are asking of PR suppliers. That schism was most prevalent in paid advertising. Agencies seem to be loading up on PPC and paid capabilities while in-house communicators might still be going to marketing or advertising firms in that respect. Half of agencies said they offer paid media services and 22% plan to do so. That comes in response to only a 12% growth in in-house investment in paid.

“It’s great to see agencies upskilling and able to offer these new service, but there is still work to be done in demonstrating to clients why it will be valuable to them. Agencies always need to be keeping in mind that client need and focus on that to try and deliver a really great client experience rather than worrying about developing new revenue streams that sound great on paper but that’s potentially too far ahead of what the industry is looking for,” Whatmough adds.

Overall though, he says the report is a way to highlight the positive side of digital PR and its contribution to the industry. “There’s a really positive message about the fact that digital is the key growth area in PR,” Whatmough says. “By the looks of the results that we’ve seen, it’s definitely going to be that in the future, there will be massive opportunities and exciting prospects for in-house professionals and for agencies as well.”

The survey polled 228 agency and in-house PR professionals. It was carried out in association with YouGov.