Effectiveness of B2B Public Relations: What to Measure?
June 26, 2019
In today’s dynamic and competitive environment, marketing and public relations departments within B2B companies are often under increasing pressure to justify their budgets and investment to their senior management. In an effort to put a monetary value or return on investment (ROI) against every single piece of media coverage or earned publicity, measurement metrics have been largely confined to measuring traffic driven to an attributed company website and subsequent calls-to-action. These calls-to-action include activities such as downloading brochures and white papers, signing up for live or on-demand webinars and clicking on enquiry messages for additional information, and these are often commonly classified as “sales leads”.
Counting sales leads and allocating revenue from the ‘closed’ leads to measure the effectiveness of earned publicity makes sense and is widely accepted throughout the industry. However, the scope of this approach may not do justice to the bigger picture – metrics limited to immediate ‘trackable actions’ don’t fully recognise the wider value of earned publicity.
It is important to also take into consideration how your output has influenced those it reached in terms of how they think or feel about your company or brand. After all, the fundamental objective of earned publicity is to spread awareness, influence audience perception, and build thought leadership positioning in the marketplace.
Quantity and quality
Quantity is still important where content is concerned, as the frequency and volume of the earned publicity or media coverage directly impacts a company’s share of voice in the marketplace. Good content in low volumes may not serve the best interests of a company, as prospects, customers and stakeholders may not consider them a market leader if actual visibility is low.
Therefore, before you start to measure the immediate calls-to-action on your company website to allocate a revenue share to your public relations initiatives, it is important to measure other outcomes and impacts too. For example:
- Views, clicks and impressions: measure the obtained views, clicks and impressions of earned publicity (media coverage) on a publications’ website to understand how well the content is performing and how an audience of a target publication received the content. This will also help to identify how many readers read the content and did not take any action and how many readers redirected to your company’s website for more information.
- Share of voice: measure your company’s media coverage share with target media and compare it with the media coverage of key competitors. Knowing the company and its competitors’ coverage volume and frequency would help you to understand the earned publicity level and media strategy of competitors and enable you to define a counter strategy if needed. There are several third-party platforms available on the market to automatically and accurately track and measure share of voice in real time.
- Perception and awareness: It is also important to measure how earned publicity/media coverage has influenced your audience’s perception and contributed to their education and awareness level, which subsequently focuses them towards your company’s offering. Not all your target audience will become customers immediately, but placing interesting and relevant content in front of them regularly will keep the company front of mind when the time comes to consider major purchases or changing partners.
A combination of the above-mentioned metrics will help marketing and PR professionals gain in-depth insights into a target audience’s response, sentiments and engagement with their media coverage, allowing them to make necessary changes to their content and placement strategy and to optimise the effectiveness and impact of their public relations initiatives.