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How to demonstrate the value of PR

5 March 2015

Last week I attended the PR Moments conference ‘Ending the data deficit of public relations’, exploring the impact of the changing media landscape on measurement, the importance of outcomes rather than outputs and the risk of data overload.

Robust measurement is integral to good practice – as Andrew Smith sagely reminded us all, we evaluate to understand what works and what doesn’t in order to improve and evolve. Evaluation should not be something tagged on to the end of a project; we should be constantly monitoring and learning from the wealth of data available, and as an agency, it is our job to distil the data available in order to share insights and recommendations with clients.

We all know that PR is an assistive medium – it does not operate in a bubble, and it often works best as a cumulative build of activity to drive action. Someone doesn’t choose to start recycling just because of an article in the paper, or a video shared on Facebook, but these will almost definitely contribute to an eventual decision later on.

Audience insight sits at the heart of our approach – we’re focused on inspiring and igniting social change to protect and improve real lives, and we can’t do that without understanding the audience journey from start to finish.

This is why our measurement framework at Forster looks at evaluating communications activity based on increasing levels of audience involvement – from being unaware to taking an interest in the proposition to taking (and then repeating) the desired action.

The conference concluded with the obvious but pertinent point from Richard Bagnall that without clear objectives, measurement is meaningless. As an industry, we need to work harder to demonstrate the real value of PR, but also to use insights to do better, more effective work, which in our case – means making more of a positive impact on the world around us.

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