The truth is that measurement can be both or neither. Meaning, in its elemental form, PR measurement is simply listening to those stakeholders that mean the most to an organization and adjusting accordingly.
You can conduct very expensive and complicated measurement schemes, but an immediate source of measurement could be much more simple. Talk to your marketing, development or IT department and you may find many measurement resources that are closer than you think! For instance, does your organization or company…
- Survey customer sales and/or service?
- Survey donors?
- Track visitors to your Web site?
- Have a Secret Shopper service or other quality control mechanism?
- Track visitation to events, seminars or occasions?
- Have an industry organization that does measurement/research valid to your organizational objectives?
- Have a database of key stakeholder information that could be cross tabulated in Access or another program?
If so, then you may have the start of a measurement tool for your public relations program. Using this already existing information to conduct your research and apply evaluation is often called secondary analysis.
In addition to secondary research sources, there are many low and no cost ways to start measuring your communications programs. In preparation for a seminar that I am conducting with two other colleagues for the PRSA San Antonio chapter, we have developed a list of resources to help communicators start to evaluate their public relations programs:
Free and Low-Cost Online Tools
- Google News Archive Search: Find articles all the way back to the 1920s to present day in real time. Of course, the results won’t include walled publications like the Wall Street Journal.
- Google Alerts: Subscribe to Google Alerts to get up-to-date information about your company or competitors via e-mail or RSS feed.
- Google Analytics: A free service to help you get detailed web statistics for your website or blog
- WebTrends: A more robust paid analytics tool used by many large corporations to track sales and other behavior on a website
- Technorati: The “Google” of blogs, Technorati is a great way to track what is said about your company
- Google BlogSearch: Google's answer to Technorati is also a great way to track what is said about your company on blogs
- Survey Monkey: Free for small surveys and affordable for larger ones
- Zoomerang: Can also put together a valid survey sample from their databases and have non-profit pricing
- Free Polls for Your Website: A list of services that provide free polling and surveys that are embedable in a Website or Blog
- Yahoo Search Marketing: Mostly commonly used in advertising, but you can sign up for a free account and use the tools
- Wordtracker: Finds popular keywords to use in web text and press releases
- PRWeb: A press release service that allows an organization to put up a number of search engine optimized press releases for minimal cost
Books About PR Measurement
Primer of Public Relations Measurement, by Don Stacks.
The Focus Group Kit, by David Morgan and Richard A. Kruegar.
Web sites with PR Measurement Resources
- PRSA PRC Search: Free for members and $4.99 for articles and $7.99 for Case Studies for non-members
- PRSA Accreditation Section on Research: Includes PDF handouts and information
- Institute for Public Relations: An organization dedicated to PR research that includes original research, case studies and other measurement resources.
- KD Paine’s Measures of Success Site: Sign up for a free copy of the e-newsletter “Measures of Success”
- Angela Sinikas: Angela includes a section with free measurement resources as well as ones you can get for a fee
- Kami Huyse’s Social Media Measurement Links: A collection of links to relevant posts and resources about measuring social media
Some Particularly Helpful Articles
Research Doesn’t Have to Put You in the Poorhouse: You don't have to spend a fortune or go broke when designing and carrying out public relations research and measurement projects. To save money, consider piggyback studies, secondary analysis, quick-tab polls, Internet surveys, or intercept interviews. Mail, fax and e-mail studies are good for some purposes. Or, do your own field research.
Southwest Airlines Case Study: From February 2004 to April 2005, Southwest Airlines was able to directly track more than $2.5 million in online ticket sales to optimized press releases
By Linda Childers Hon and James E. Grunig have found through their research that perceptions regarding an organization's longer-term relationships with key constituencies can best be measured by focusing on six very precise elements or components of relationships:
- Control Mutuality
- Exchange Relationship
- Communal Relationship
Interview with Katie Paine
We will leave you with an interview conducted with Katie Paine early last year outlining her Six Steps to PR Measurement
Please feel free to add your own favorite resources in the comments section of this post.
This is also cross posted to San Antonio Byline blog.
Photo by bvincent1013