If you believe most PR agencies they’ll tell you that awareness is the key to public relations success. But awareness without a focus on the right audience, the right message and delivered at the right time via the right channel is meaningless. So, if you’re not measuring awareness – in the form of page impressions and social media platform shares what should you measure to work out whether your PR activity is working?
Relationships, that’s what. Think about it, most PR programs are media-focused and agencies guard their journalist contacts as fiercely as they guard your contact details from journalists. Their perceived value is in the brokerage role they play in securing coverage and if they allow you to build a direct relationship then you don’t need them. Right?
I’ve written before that public relations is far more than media relations and, the resulting ‘awareness’ that most agencies peddle. It’s about building and relationships with the people that can help you grow your business; with customers that want to buy – or have a need for – your product or service. With influencers that can help people you have no direct relationship with find your business. With investors that have money to invest in businesses doing what you do. Very little of that is delivered as the direct result of media coverage.
Awareness and media ‘relationships’ – I describe this as a lease arrangement at best – are a really bad measure of PR success because when you stop paying an agency for their brokerage you often have nothing of tangible benefit. If you measure public relations on the strength of the relationships you build as a result of your activity – and I mean firm relationships, not fast friends or friends of your agency ‘friends’, then you can calculate whether your public relations activity is helping you move towards commercial outcomes.
There will be my peers that argue that PR is about reputation and trust. And credibility. And authenticity. And awareness. And, I’d agree. So long as it is you building relationships based on demonstrating these things, rather than you leasing media relationships based on your agency pitching them on your behalf. Or on journalists being arbiters of your message and the owner of the delivery mechanism.
If you have awareness and coverage but don’t have relationships as a result of your PR activity then we have something different to offer. Find out more at http://thinkdifferently.ca/