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How are PR measurement budgets being prioritised in India?

Measuring results from PR has long been an aspect of public relations that has challenged professionals. How does a client judge the results of a campaign? How to convey an accurate measure of the impact of PR on business goals?

With social media pushing PR budgets up overall and the move from clip counting to qualitative and quantitative measures,  PR measurement is fast emerging as a high growth area within PR.

PR insiders place the total spend on PR measurement, as part of the overall corporate communications budget, as between 2 to 6 per cent and 15 to 20 per cent. With such a wide range in estimates, clearly the trend towards PR measurement is still shaping up. Experts say that in India the commitment to PR spending on measurement; will depend on whether it is a B2B or a B2C firm, as consumer-centric companies spend more towards measurement compared to B2B companies. Budgets also depend on whether it’s an SME or a larger company. SME's are still conservative towards spending budgets for measurement compared to larger and multinational companies.

However, as the PR industry itself gains recognition, measurement of PR is bound to acquire increasing importance. Says Aseem Sood, CEO, Impact Research & Measurement Pvt. Ltd, one of India’s larger firms handling PR measurement, ”PR professionals now have a seat at the CXO table. Over the last few years, we have seen a renewed confidence in the PR professionals and they have started to demand and get a seat in the C-suite. There, it’s very important for them to talk the same language and show the value of the work done or planned. Measurement helps achieve that. In India also, we have seen this change. One of our clients has the PR head on their India Leadership board. PR agencies are also using measurement to connect with the client CEO better.”

Part of this drive to sensitise the market means moving the discussion away from pure quantity based measures like AVE or advertisement value equivalent. In 2010, over 200 participants from the PR measurement industry across 30 countries agreed to follow the now well know Barcelona Principles at a conference organized by the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC). These seven principles included: measuring media with quantity and quality metrics, not AVEs; understanding how people and business results change as a result of PR; understanding that social media is another channel and the same measurement ideas apply; and making sure all measurement is transparent.

Indian firms like Impact have also moved away from pure quantitative measures that depend of ad values. “We have stopped using AVEs in all our measurement programmes. Same is recommended in the Barcelona principles. “, says Sood, who is also Director of AMEC.

The latest challenge for the PR measurement industry is social media. International  firms such Meltwater, that have now entered the PR measurement market in India, with SaaS (Software as a Service) products designed to measure PR, feel that measuring social media will become a crucial measure of PR results and business feedback.

Kimling Lam, Director of Marketing Communications, Meltwater Group believes,”Successful measurement of PR campaigns starts with listening to online conversations and monitoring online media coverage. Once PR strategists align with the business objectives, measurement should indicate very clearly the success of PR campaigns. Using Meltwater’s services, our clients are able to analyze the volume of mentions, share of voice, trends, sentiment, and reach. These types of analysis should reveal where a brand stands in their market in relation to their competition, and it should inform them of business critical information that helps them make business critical decisions.”

Indian firms are also alert to the need to measure social media. “Two elements that make social media measurement look different from traditional print media measurement are 1) Big Data and 2) Need for speed. This leads to greater complexity and thus, the tools to be used and the frequency of reporting measurement needs to change appropriately. In all other aspects, Social media measurement is the same.” says Sood.

Clearly the days of counting clips and impressions, as measures of PR are changing rapidly. A necessary change in keeping with the range of business information PR provides in today’s world.

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