Why Metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Matter in Public Relations
When developing a communications and PR plan at Environics, we organize our approach into three phases: preparation, implementation and measurement. All three stages are crucial to successfully executing a communications strategy, but it’s important to focus on the third phase: measurement.
Without using metrics, it is nearly impossible to determine the success of your campaign--and to advocate for your efforts moving forward.
What do I mean by metrics as they relate to public relations? Although they can be used in different contexts depending on your industry, key performance indicators (KPIs) in public relations are tools that are used to quantifiably measure the success of cross-channel campaigns. In communications, some examples of KPIs include media impressions and placements, as well as analytics from social media posts, like engagement rates, likes, comments and shares.
An important caveat: you cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach to metrics. The KPIs that are relevant to one organization or enterprise may not be relevant to another. Metrics must be rooted in and customized for your larger business goals.
Since you are using communications tactics as a way to further your organization’s mission or goal, you must track your individual success against that ultimate goal. For example, if your organization is aiming to raise awareness about a certain issue, you may decide to track the number of earned media placements you secure and the readership of those publications.
Although measurement is just one part of a communications strategy, do not make the mistake of waiting until the end of a campaign to evaluate its performance. Metrics are just as important a week into your campaign as they are at the conclusion. Paying attention to your KPIs during your entire campaign will set you up to achieve optimal results. Here are a few reasons why it is critical to consult metrics throughout your communications campaign:
- Metrics provide context for your campaign in terms of your larger business goals. It doesn’t matter how many media impressions you receive or how many people share your Facebook post if you don’t understand how your communications tactics are contributing to your overall mission.
Metrics are essential for course correction along the way. Not every planned tactic for your campaign will work out the way you expect it to, and that's okay. If the metrics from your first week show your content is not performing as well as you expected, take the opportunity to refine your approach while you still have time. Looking at your KPIs can also help you to understand what aspects of your campaign needs to change and what type of content is most important to your audience.
Metrics are useful for comparing campaigns. KPIs allow you to understand the most effective aspects of your campaign so you can build upon your previous success. Of course it is still important to take context into account, but data points from your KPIs can help you to understand your year-over-year growth.
KPIs are a way of measuring your success. It's not enough to just say your campaign was successful, metrics allow you to show just how successful. This is especially true when attempting to explain the success of your campaign to someone in another area of your organization, who may not be familiar with communications tactics. Metrics provide the evidence of success.
Our commitment to delivering results with impact to clients requires us to be constantly tracking metrics and making adjustments as necessary. Are you looking to achieve measurable results for your client? Take a look at some of our greatest success stories. And stay tuned in the coming weeks for the balance of our series of blog posts on metrics.
Associate Account Executive
Cate’s love of writing and public affairs makes her the ideal public relations professional. She finds a message's ability to persuade change particularly fascinating. A recent graduate of American University, Cate enthusiastically puts her degree in public relations and strategic communications to work!