PR and integrated comms metrics: All that glitters is not gold
How do businesses in the technology sector measure the success of their PR and communications while ensuring they separate vanity metrics from sanity metrics?
I addressed this question in a recent episode of Adverity’s The Undiscovered Metric podcast. Today, B2B technology PR not only encompasses traditional media relations and coverage, but almost every interaction a business has with its audience. What’s more, businesses need to understand the collective impact of PR and integrated comms on their objectives.
So, how can tech companies define the best metrics for measuring their efforts and achieving their goals?
Looking past the vanity metrics
Historically, vanity metrics such as reach and AVE (advertising value equivalent) have been used to monitor the performance of PR programmes and thought leadership strategies. But what insights do these truly deliver?
All marketing activity, including PR and integrated comms, must be tied back to business objectives to drive tangible success and satisfy stakeholders. Since every company has its own unique goals, decision makers need to determine precisely what they want to achieve before deciding on the best metrics to measure their progress. For example, a business may be focused on building brand awareness and profiling their leadership team — whether through earned media coverage or a LinkedIn strategy — so audience reach and engagement would be a valuable measure of success.
Objectives guide measurement best practice — it’s easy to drown in a sea of data, but just because you can measure everything, doesn’t mean you always should. Focusing on overarching business goals and choosing the most relevant metrics also helps earn stakeholder buy-in; it will show how PR and comms achieve meaningful results for the wider business.
Share of voice, for instance, is a useful metric for B2B technology PR. It can be effectively visualised on a pie chart to compare a business’s share of voice with its competitors, making it easy and fast to communicate. It allows tech companies to build an in-depth, up-to-date understanding of competitor activity that enables them to gain an edge over their rivals.
Unearthing the business value of integrated comms
The holy grail of measurement is a holistic, cross-departmental view of performance and the ability to connect earned, advertising, shared, and your owned (EASY) channels. All elements of the EASY model interlink and are not thought about in isolation. Joining the dots helps give clear and specific insight into what is delivering the most value and how each communication channel amplifies another to deliver against business objectives.
To share an example, by using tools such as Hootsuite, businesses can monitor social mentions and conduct sentiment analysis to evaluate audience response following a keynote presentation at an industry event. These insights can inform upcoming activity across social media, events, earned PR, and more to solidify a business’s reputation as a leader in their space.
Aligning B2B technology PR and integrated comms across departments
Holistic measurement is useful for breaking down silos, but businesses should also look to increase transparency through their internal communications and structures. The most impactful PR and comms strategies are communicated and plugged in across all relevant teams in a company including sales, marketing, product, and C-suite, for example.
Each of these teams has something to gain from effective PR and integrated comms, alongside something to contribute to it. Product knowledge allows PR and communications strategists to understand the value a business brings to its clients. Insight into sales goals helps them select the best channels to support those targets. Understanding wider marketing strategies ensures that businesses build a consistent voice and reputation.
Joining the dots between teams is as important for meeting goals as joining the dots between channels.
Technology businesses likely understand the power of data-driven PR and integrated comms, but focusing on the most meaningful data is critical. They mustn’t be distracted by shiny vanity metrics. Rather, they should define the business objectives they want to achieve and then clearly measure how their communications strategy supports them.
To discuss how PR and integrated comms can deliver value for your technology business, reach out to us on firstname.lastname@example.org