How do you measure success?

Measuring results

What does success look like? As an industry we ought to be able to answer this question quickly and easily, but of course the truth is, it depends…

It depends on what your objectives are.

There’s an interesting read in PR Moment titled “PR KPI inflation: Why you shouldn’t use readership numbers or reach as measurement KPIs’

Various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are reviewed in the PR Moment feature, drawing on the different ways agencies demonstrate their success in award submissions: “Judges will review a variety of metrics to prove views, clicks and outcomes to weigh up the winners.

Digital PR has offered up a world of granular and very practical information, but of course the flip side is having too much information – how do you select the most meaningful metrics?

Diageo’s James Alexander, a multiple award winner from AMEC is quoted in the PR Moment feature saying:

“As an allocator of marketing budget, you can’t take a lot from ‘reach’ data. We like using the ‘estimated coverage views’ metric. It’s more realistic which means it’s easier for me to compare PR against other areas of marketing”.

This brings me to my point.  It can be hard to measure PR when it is part of a much wider range of marketing activity.  The saying “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half” is supposed to date back to the nineteenth century so this isn’t a new problem, assuming PR and advertising come from the same budget.

Here are some examples of what PR success can look like depending on your objective:

Crisis PR

If you’re handling a crisis, as we do for our clients, perhaps surrounding a planning process or court case, success means calm, measured preparedness and control.

Event PR

We’re planning and providing PR support for an event to take place in nine months’ time. Success means people buy tickets. If it’s a free event, success means people turn up.

FMCG or product sales

Its rare for sales to be supported by PR or media relations alone, but it can be done. Our campaign for the British Beekeepers Association is a great example, with 10,000 sales solely from media relations.

Business to business

In B2B PR, if you’re promoting a business service, then you want to generate incoming business enquiries.  You could choose a set of metrics to measure success further up the marketing funnel (as you could for FMCG) measuring website traffic for example, but the acid test is incoming business enquiries.

And here is a perfect example of what success looks like, from an email I received last month:

Hi Folks,

I’ve just been looking at all our data on coverage and wanted to thank you once again for your efforts you’re doing a fantastic job!  Great coverage which is generating leads on a daily basis so I really can’t ask for any more…..other than more of the same!

There are couple of practical guides on our website for further information about how to set monthly PR measurement systems:

How do you measure creativity? A guide to PR measurement systems that work

Five simple steps to improve your PR measurement tools

Celebrating results


12 results for 12 PR in 2021

These are twelve results we celebrated at the end of 2021. What a year it’s been, our 25th in business.

Now’s the perfect time to reflect on what it means to have been in business for a long time.  Don’t we look for challenger brands, young innovators, or edgy start-ups?  Not always!

Since I left The Guardian, the media world has changed completely but the twelve principles on which we founded the business have served us and our clients well.

A commitment to training means we’re always learning and on top of trends and new opportunities.  Our ‘twelve ideas’ concept means ideas and innovation are top priority. These are just two of our principles which have kept us and our accounts energetic and inspired year after year.

We’re proud to have served some of our clients for twenty years, while some of our new accounts are in technology fields which didn’t exist five years ago, never mind twenty five. And this is why it’s a good sign that a business has been going for long time.  In a service industry, and PR is a marketing service, it’s proof of sustained customer satisfaction,  performance and agility.

So here’s my list selection criteria for a good PR agency. In addition to longevity:

  1. Experience in your sector or similar brands
  2. Award wins for relevant campaigns
  3. Nice people to work with
  4. A commitment to training and technology
  5. Transparent monthly reporting and measurement metrics

Here’s to 2022 and the next 25 years!

Niche language to common tongue  

This month’s quote on our Twelve PR 25th anniversary calendar is from Albert Einstein: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”  

It’s a classic.  

I’ve been ruminating on this quote for several weeks, knowing that I’d be the author of September’s blog – my last before I head off on maternity leave.  And it particularly struck a chord with me in an unusual situation… 

Breech baby breech 

About two weeks ago, I was admitted to the John Radcliffe Oxford Hospital to the Breech Clinic, as it turned out baby Bartlett was lying upside down.  After 45 minutes of monitoring, watching the baby’s and my heart rate plotted on a CCG machine, a sagely consultant, Dr Laurence Impey, comes in to explain how an ECV works.  

An external cephalic version or ECV sounds terribly complicated and for many, could be unnerving.  

However, my consultant calmly explained that they’d first shoot me up with a dose of synthetic adrenaline, which would work for precisely three minutes, ensure all necessary internal muscles relaxed and make my heart race like the clappers.  

In this three-minute window, the consultant and midwife would simply push the baby round like doing a forward roll. My only job was to concentrate on staying relaxed. I’m happy to report that Dr Impey and midwife successfully turned Baby B and fingers crossed, he’ll now stay that way.  

This anecdote is relevant because I know that the key reason for the successful ECV was Dr Impey’s ability to explain to me simply and clearly what was about to happen, so I felt informed and confident and therefore, calm and relaxed.  (The doctor’s many years of experience also played a crucial role too!) 

Permanently available material – huh? 

The ability to explain complicated concepts is a challenge which we are regularly presented with in the PR field. Turning technical language into terminology that can be understood by the common man and pique the interest of journalists and key target audiences is a finely-tuned skill and the very essence of good communication.  

I have now worked within the packaging field alongside the trade association, the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association, for almost all my working life and phrases like infinitely recyclable and permanently available material now trip off my tongue.  

But these phrases are not widely understood. Permanently available material for example is not used as regularly as renewable or non-renewable in common parlance, but essentially it means that a material, like metal, can be recycled again and again without its core properties ever changing and with no loss of quality.  

For the MPMA and its members, it’s crucial that everyone involved in industry can explain metal’s unique status to their customers and consumers further down the chain in a way that’s easy to understand – just as Dr Impey was able to do for me when discussing my ECV.   

To do this, we created a series of visual animations which clearly describe this core terminology. The video on YouTube has now had over 14K views and is used by MPMA members to explain what permanently available means. 

If more buyers, designers, commissioners and brand owners appreciate metal’s specialist material status and its ability to contribute to a circular economy, there is a greater chance they will seek metal as a solution for their packaging needs. 

So, if you find yourself with technical jargon and terminology that needs to be adapted so that your wider audience understands what makes you unique, then a PR is what you need.  

Get in touch with the team via and I will see you back in 9 months!