PLAN FOR EVALUATION OF COMMS WHEN DETERMINING STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES, EXPERTS SAY
“You can’t get away without having your homework marked anymore,” Colin Wheeler, MD of Survey Solutions said at Monday’s PRCA Measurement Conference. The annual event discusses measurement and evaluation in PR, examining ROI, communications planning and strategic data analysis.
This year, speakers unanimously agreed on one thing: good measurement relies on good planning. The rest was up for debate.
In the opening session, a panel focusing on Amec’s Barcelona Principles – the foundation for measurement in communications – Wheeler summed up the process of evaluating comms, “If you can track where you have come from and what you’ve achieved then you know where you’re going, you know your direction of travel. Yo can do better. You can create better work.” Fellow panelist, Russ Brady, head of public relations at the Co-Op added that clear questions about a campaign’s objectives before the campaign is implemented are crucial. If outcomes are considered in the planning stages, an organisation can understand how its communications have changed the direction of the business – hopefully for the better. Libby Howard, CEO, Intelligent Conversation, put it simply, “If you don’t know why you’re doing something, you’ll never be able to measure it.”
The ins and outs of measurement though, were not so simply rendered. One speaker, Nicole Moreo of Ketchum, discussed her work with Gillette on influencer relations. Proof of purchase was important in that context. As it was for Carrie Rose, co-founder of Rise at 7, a search-powered PR firm. Her engaging discussion examined the use of content in digital PR. She showed how well-positioned content can drive better SEO and, ultimately, result in sales. On the B2B side, she examined how SEO can translate to brand awareness and the positioning of a company as an expert in its sector.
In the final panel of the day, Darryl Sparey, MD of Hard Numbers, talked through his company’s research into the relationship between PR and communications and startup fundraising. This offered a case study into the value of communications, even in the early days of a business’ operations. Zarina Banu, head of corporate communications at Curve, said, “It’s all about articulating what the company is about. You need a position in the market.” From there, the panel said, a company will be better positioned to achieve capital investment and funding. Jo Candy, head of PR at Crowdcube added, “PR is not just about getting coverage. It’s about working out your founding story, getting that right and making sure that you know how to talk about yourselves.” That is of vital importance, she said, before the company even begins engaging with the media.
One thing is clear, companies should plan for the evaluation of communications as early as possible. That strategic approach and the metrics used can take a number of forms, but without clear objectives, there can be no proof of ROI.
Communicate magazine will be hosting the DataComms conference on 21 January. To register your interest, email Brittany Golob.