In today’s competitive business landscape, mastering the art of PR is paramount to craft a distinct presence and authoritative profile. By showcasing expertise, securing share of voice and managing corporate reputation, PR and media relations (when done correctly) can tip the scale of brand visibility and thought leadership, cultivating trust among target audiences.
However, is B2B PR just as good as its ability to demonstrate its impact?
As usual, the answer isn’t as straightforward as we might hope.
Measuring the return on investment (ROI) of PR efforts has long been a challenge for the industry. The impact of PR can’t be measured overnight and, with its outcomes often being intangible, quantifying and attributing success to specific actions can end up in inaccurate conclusions.
A brief history
Over the years, PR professionals have tried to capture and demonstrate PR’s impact through several metrics, with varying success – especially when these were used in isolation. Take Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) as an example.
As its name indicates, AVE assigns a monetary value to PR by measuring the size of the media coverage and calculating the advertising rate for similar space. However, it was always clear that the real impact of PR campaigns goes beyond calculating the equivalent cost of media space of the coverage received and should consider the endorsement that a credible media outlet brings. This is where WAEV (weighted advertising equivalent value) was introduced, where the cost for the ad space was multiplied by an (often arbitrary) factor. However, being a theoretical metric, it spurred confusion in the industry as to what the value of that multiplier should be.
We know that the effectiveness of public relations should be calculated as part of a more comprehensive PR analysis – one that incorporates a range of data including (but not limited to) reach, social media engagement, website visits, key message penetration and sentiment. Additionally, with the development of new digital amplification channels and measurement tools, and an increasing emphasis on real-time tracking and evaluation , the process of PR campaign reporting continues to evolve.
As a full-service agency, at BDB we see every side of the Rubik’s cube that is marketing communications and understand that different disciplines should complement one another. That’s why, when it comes to demonstrating the impact of B2B public relations, we implement a comprehensive approach based on three pillars and that follows PR reporting best practices.
1. Start from clearly defined objectives
We work closely with our clients to establish clear PR objectives that align with their overall business goals.
Are there key media titles you want your brand to be featured in regularly?
Would your C-suite be more interested in knowing where your brand sits in the market against competitors or understanding how strongly your brand is associated with a specific topic?
Each B2B organisation has different business objectives and by understanding what matters most to you and your business, we define measurable and attainable targets to set the foundation for effective B2B PR campaign reporting.
2. Unify metrics to tell a more meaningful story
From impressions and coverage to web visits and follower growth, at BDB we use a range of metrics to develop a B2B PR measuring framework tailored to your specific goals and needs.
For example, if the main goal of your PR campaign is to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to your website, our performance report would include metrics such as media reach and visibility – which includes the number of media outlets that cover your brand, the size of their audiences, and the prominence of the coverage – as well as share of voice (SOV) – the percentage of media coverage about your brand compared to your competitors.
If instead, the focus of your PR campaigns is to be recognised as a thought leader in your industry, we would give more importance to the quality of media placements secured over the quantity. With placements in top-tier publications and coverage related to high-profile speaking opportunities being considered a sign of status, they should be given higher prominence in a PR analysis alongside invitations to expert commentaries and recognitions.
3. Synergising qualitative and quantitative insights
Both quantitative and qualitative data play crucial roles in PR campaign reporting. While quantitative data provides numerical insights about reach and number of clippings, qualitative data can help understand the broader impact of PR efforts. Qualitative KPIs, such as sentiment, media tone and content analysis have a role in assessing brand perception, while message resonance and media sentiment can provide marketing teams with a platform to build synergies for integrated campaigns. Above all, we add human analysis to our qualitative metrics to ensure we paint a comprehensive picture of PR campaign performance, providing you with impactful and actionable insights relevant to your goals.
High-tech tools such as Cision and Signal AI can meticulously track all key performance indicators to provide accurate insights into any campaign performance. Not only do they provide a significant opportunity to improve efficiency and reduce manual search, but they are also able to capture an unimaginable level of detail and visualise it in tables and graphs in seconds.
Today, PR analysis and evaluation are a critical component of the profession, as they help practitioners and organisations make informed decisions, refine their strategies, and demonstrate the value of PR to stakeholders. As the field continues to adapt to the changing media and communication landscape, incorporating new technologies and methodologies to measure the impact of PR effectively, working with an agency that not only follows PR reporting best practices, but keeps up with the pace of these changes and that continuously refines its approach to harness data more effectively to deliver more meaningful insights, is invaluable.
Contact us today to learn more about how BDB can elevate your B2B PR efforts so you can achieve more.