Measurable PR Results - A Client’s Perspective

What do clients look for in measurable PR results? Before we ask agencies to deliver ‘measurable’ results it is imperative that we internally define what ‘impactful communications’ and ‘measurable results’ means to our own company and stakeholders. A clear and defined set of protocols and measures regarding the same set the slate for a smooth, symbiotic and successful relationship between the client and the agency without leaving any room for ambiguity and probabilities. This also gives a clear indication to the agency on the performance parameters and helps them perform accordingly. The direction for it has to come from the internal stakeholders of the client. The agency can then refine and add to it.  

At Grameen Financial Services Pvt. Ltd, one of the top 10 microfinance organizations in the country, we have a well-defined PR policy in place which necessitates the creation of sustained positive perception of the organization, our products and our people. These are shared with the agency which enhances performance and deliverables. We follow the AIDA line of marketing communications which stands for Attention, generate Interest, develop Desire, and initiate Action.

The set of protocols for measurable PR results also have to be updated regularly in a constantly changing media environment and tweaked to attain more relevance to the target audience. These tweaks are most effective if they are agreed upon and done by the client and the agency together. An open and healthy discussion on the same fosters team building. This will help a company achieve more pertinent results.

Apart from following AIDA, we also keep innovating and adding relevant principles that are contemporary to our existing communication strategy to deliver effective and better results. One such recent effort is imbibing the best from the Barcelona Principles with our current existing AIDA model of communication. Keeping that in mind, we set a goal and the resulting parameters of measurement while devising a strategy before it is implemented, media measurement that requires quantity and quality feedback wherein we evaluate the overall impressions and impact of the communication plan with our key influencers in a transparent manner rather than measure media outcome or number of clips via an AVE. Also, the way we present our results is important. At GFSPL, the PR team understands what we do in our own PR terms but when we present our results we do so in the marketing language sans jargon to ensure our marketing team are not confused by such unfamiliar terms. If the PR industry has to make a mark and prove its worth then we have to talk in their ‘language’ and show them how PR has assisted them in achieving their goals. These not only makes the PR results more effective but also more significantly important to a business.

My learnings’ over the years have highlighted three main aspects on expectations from the client’s perspective that I feel every agency should understand and work with the client to ensure that the association is successful. As an agency, the first expectation that a client has is for them to understand and add relevance to the client’s pre-existing protocols. Every agency has a different feel of the media and has its own perspective of evaluating its performance. The agency can quickly tweak its existing performance evaluation model and add to the client’s score card. It is quite unfair to both parties if on the performance evaluation day these protocols are questioned or suddenly changed.  When an agency and a client start off an association this is a perfect and smart way of adding parameters that the agency is confident about and also showcasing a unique and insightful learning aspect of the agency to the client.
Second, after a complete understanding of the same the client does expect you to adhere to it.

Third, showcase your understanding and achievements well. If you have comprehended the above two there is nothing stopping you from showcasing your success stories. If you are dealing with a corporate communication professional in the client team then understand that your success is his or her success. The client and the agency are a team. It is only if you work together that you will be able to achieve impactful and successful results.

Varsha Pillai, Senior Manager, Communications, Grameen Financial Services Pvt.Ltd. (GFSPL)