What measurements matter in PR?

It’s that time of day again, when you have to sit down and prepare your PR measurement report. What measurements matter to PR clients, what should you be focusing on? PRmoment India finds out from in-house communication experts what measurements they look at in PR.

Measures that show the impact of PR on reach; sentiment and sales are all important measures.  For Sumathi A Rao, director, brand communications and digital, Philips India, while all three are important, while working on B2B PR, reach and positive sentiment takes precedence.

Rao explains that, “Especially while building a credible healthcare brand, patient education becomes essential, which is more about sentiment and reach than it is about sales.”   

Girish Huria, head of communications, eBay India  agrees that reach, sentiment and sales are critical and dependent on what is being measured. Says Huria, “If I am looking at quick win campaigns then it would be impact on sales. For example when eBay India launched the largest online perfume / watches mall, it was important to measure what kind of GMV numbers are we driving and from which city. But when we recently launched our refurbish campaign (eBay Choices) then we will look at audience reach and message efficacy.”

Sales Impact

Huria adds that, “How do you know whether a promotion release has achieved the desired result. Is it by measuring the output (volume) or going a bit deeper and looking at audience reached, type of media, message acceptance and then call to action. And every time we leverage a tool we try and measure the impact. We outsource the efficacy of measurements to a third party agency so that there are no biases, but the fact that it's part of the agencies DNA makes the whole process objective. Now I am not saying that each time there is success in following this process, but the attempt is 100 pc. And a proof of that is we have been able grow our buyer base by 25 % and seller base by 30%.”

The influence of Sentiment

According to Madhu Joshi, Director- Marketing & Communication, Hotel Formule1, AccorHotels, “In today’s growing digital media scenario, the emphasis is on understanding sentiment and brand reputation. Getting the pulse right shapes everything including sales and revenue for the business in the long term.”

Joshi explains that, "For example, it is very crucial to know what customers are talking about us in the digital landscape. Is the sentiment positive, negative or neutral? How often is the brand being endorsed or recommended by the customers? In relation to the hotel industry for example, online review sites plays a key role to evaluate the effectiveness of brand’s online reputation- how often the customer speaks about his good experience, what are the reviews focusing on, etc. This analytics helps PR in designing communication campaigns to overcome certain specific challenging areas or even do a tactical campaign to focus on highlighting the positive sentiment of a brand.”

Under sentiment, the role of customer reactions becomes very important especially in consumer facing industries.

Says Joshi, “PR plays a vital role in measuring customer sentiment. PR’s involvement to measure this through various tools like media, digital space, especially social media, reputation management tools, becomes relevant to measure the sentiment effectively. PR carries the right analytical techniques to conclude the findings and present it with a clear approach towards understanding the impact on brand equity.”

What added measurements are needed?

Rao point out that,  “Overall Quality Score, Net Promoter Score (NPS) and message penetration are some key indicators we can use that I have known quite a few global agencies use. We can also leverage the power of big data analytics to improve our social listening skills which have a direct impact on sales, especially in B2B scenarios.”

Huria feels that the attempt to measure PR work undertaken in India is almost at par if not superior to other markets. He says, “If there is any difference then it is not because of lack of initiative from agencies in India to measure their work, but the insecurity to change and challenge measurement from the corporate world. If the corporate world can change their mindset and throw in newer measurement concepts, then the Indian PR agencies are ready to accept that challenge and start adopting those metrics. At eBay, we are piloting measurement through Outbrain and soon we will be introducing those concepts to our agencies for specific campaigns.”

Case study: Philips Respironics –Sleep Solutions campaign

Phillips India is currently running a campaign to increase awareness about sleep apnea solutions. According to Sumathi Rao, “Share of voice is still a reliable measure. This when added with reach can give you a reliable measure of your success. An example here would be the Philips Sleep campaign. Here, we were cognizant of the whole cycle from building the ecosystem, through stakeholder management and the impact on marketing efforts in terms of patient walk ins.”

Ecosystem awareness through patient education

Explaining further Rao says that for this campaign, “Practically every Indian citizen could be a potential sleep patient. The database was huge. The biggest challenge was lack of knowledge about sleep or snoring as a disorder, which could lead to multiple complications. Therefore, we defined the major cities, which were a target, along with Tier 2 cities as potential targets for patient education. Here clearly share of voice and reach were measurements we relied upon.”

Stakeholder management

Rao adds that, “We reached out to key stakeholders, the doctors who had invested in our sleep labs and had to make their business a success. We went to cities and towns where they were present and executed our PR exercise involving them as key spokespersons. This resulted in more enquiries and patient walk-ins to their sleep labs. That was for us a good measurement.”

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