How do you measure creativity? PR measurement systems that work

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At a conference in Barcelona this year Alex Aiken, head of the UK Government Communication Service, said: “I believe that measurement is the most important communication discipline.”

There are some simple, easy measures you can put in place to evaluate your PR activity and I will outline them below.

But first a philosophical question you might ask.  ‘Does measurement kill creativity in PR?’ Having just read ‘The Tyranny of Metrics’ by Jerry Z. Muller, I’m tempted to say yes.

The following paragraph from the book sums up the problem with measurement which applies to public organisations such as schools and hospitals and, in a much smaller way, PR agencies too:

“Primary schools, for example, have their tasks of teaching reading, writing, and numeracy, and these perhaps could be monitored through standardised tests. But what about goals that are less measurable but no less important, such as instilling good behaviour, inspiring a curiosity about the world and fostering creative thought?”

We work for many organisations in the education sector and are lucky to work for one school which, through teaching the International Baccalaureate Programme, specifically sets out to foster a curious mind and creativity, among other qualities, in addition to the basic 3 R’s among its students. So I know that with the right approach, creativity and measurement can sit comfortably together – in other words, measurement need not kill creativity.

Creativity and measurement can go together

At Twelve we are absolutely wedded to the importance of creativity in PR – after all, the ‘Twelve ideas’ concept, where a new, good idea is presented every month to our clients, is a core part of our service offer.

I don’t see any conflict between creativity and measurement, in fact I think creativity without measurement is pure vanity.  Our business as a PR agency is to help other businesses and organisations thrive, and there are always tangible ways to measure this.

A brilliant creative idea needs to do something, for example increase footfall, achieve sales, build a new business pipeline and so on.

Tips on how to set up a useful PR measurement report.

The most important thing is to make sure that your reporting is ‘light touch’ but effective:

  1. Requires no more than 10 per cent of your own or your agency’s time or budget to produce.
  2. Can be understood and appreciated at a glance.
  3. Can be repeated each month or at regular intervals, such as after each campaign.

Measuring PR activities and outcomes

Measure activities, but make sure you have more information on outcomes.


Keep a record of what your PR agency is doing for you. Ultimately you don’t want a long list of activities, because what really matters to you are the outcomes. However, depending on what your agency has been tasked to do, a summary each month is a useful record.

For example, if it’s media relations, have a summary or list of stories or news items that have been distributed.  You need to know how many have gone out to assess your success rate; to either enjoy it or improve on it.

If the agency organised a series of events, list them.  Outcomes will, in this case, be attendance related: prospects, face-to-face meetings secured etc.

If your agency is creating content, then ensure you have a list of that content, when created and when hosted. But the key thing you need to measure is outcomes.

What PR outcomes should you measure?


Carefully consider the PESO model from Gina Dietrich, which is an excellent framework, shown below, but don’t use it rigidly.

Always aim to find the most simple way to measure what really counts for your business.

PESO Model for measuring PR activity

Reproduced from Gina Dietrich

Paid or earned

The concept of paid and earned is good, so use this as a basic definition to classify any coverage from media relations.  As the number of earned media channels such as national newspapers is diminishing, then achieving a result in them is especially valuable and worth noting.

Table heading showing Earned Media

Table heading to show paid coverage result


You may have pages and pages of content or copy published somewhere but it is of no value, or worse, damaging, if it is saying the wrong thing.  Have some form of assessment of your messages and use the same formula each month.

Google analytics

You could drown in data from Google.  Cut to the chase. We use a framework devised by our friends at Zanzi called a RACE report.

Sample PR digital metrics in a RACE Report

The report is based on answering key questions about the value of your PR activity.

  • Who do you REACH?
  • How do the ACT when they get there?
  • How well do you ENGAGE with them?
  • How many do you CONVERT?

You can see the heading for each element below. The hardest section to complete is the conversion chart, because in an ideal world this will contain your internal sales data. This is the most important measurement of all. If you have set up goals on your website then this should be a key metric in your conversion table.

Sometimes we use CONTACT data from e -shots if sales data is hard to track down.

Website reach different headings

Heading of website actions

Engage metrics table

Convert tables

Measuring influencer activity

Of course you can create any report you want.  Instagram for example isn’t shown in the above table but if that’s what you’re using rather than LinkedIn, switch it round or add it in.

These are just a few effective ways in which you can set up internal PR measurement systems.

There are a host of external systems you can buy such as Kantar Precise for media content or Trackr for measuring Influencer activity.

You will almost certainly need to use an external service to capture and collate your media monitoring if you have a significant PR programme in place.   A quick Google search will bring up a list of these.

Measuring your corporate reputation or values among stakeholder

If reputation management is a key, specific aspect of your agency’s role, then pre and post measurement of what your reputation actually is will be important. Measuring brand values, corporate reputation, perceptions among stakeholders etc., usually requires a third-party service.

If you would like to know which ones we use or would like to achieve PR results that are really worth measuring, give me a call or drop me an email.

Nicky Smith 01608 495014

Brand storytelling consumers actually believe



Last weekend my husband and I visited the new Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurant which opened a few months ago in Banbury.  Sat there, tucking into my Zinger Burger (it’s a classic), we both, independently, commented on how the restaurant had quite a different décor to what we would normally associate with KFC.

It had the hard-wearing plastic seating, which will survive a thousand bums, and the easily wipeable table tops, but it also had a distinct hipster, farmhouse kitchen vibe. It had butcher block-style, high bar seating; timber plank kitchen tables; texture effect faux brick walls; and low hanging copper lighting.

I later looked this up and turns out the new interiors were rolled out nationwide in 2015 (that just shows you how long it’s been since I had that crispy golden chicken) and encourages a family atmosphere like that you’d get around the eponymous farmhouse kitchen table.

Our recently refurbished restaurant also had a new digital ad board which rotated a number of ads all with the tagline ‘100% British Chicken’.

Here is KFC clearly trying to tell a different brand story to customers – one that is about authenticity and provenance from farmyard to family bucket.

Missing the authenticity mark

But somehow it felt rather inauthentic.

It’s not that I don’t believe that KFC does use 100 per cent whole British chicken (in fact, all its suppliers are Red Tractor certified, that’s a whole new blog post subject if you’ve read this week’s Grocer story). It’s more the fact that this message is used as an ad slogan. It’s a bit ‘doth protest too much’ or too much telling and not enough showing.

There was no other obvious information on the provenance of the chicken breast in my burger available to me whilst I chowed down. Similarly, its ‘Whole Chicken’ tv ad, which featured a strutting chicken, felt too lighthearted when dealing with serious subjects like food origin. Unlike other fast food chains, I felt that KFCs attempt at telling its provenance story fell short.

It could learn lessons in storytelling from Five Guys, the burger chain. That week’s potato supply is always the restaurant’s core feature and there’s always a sign showing the variety and where in the UK it’s from.  There’s the open kitchen, where you can watch food preparation from behind the glass. The restaurant’s diner décor feels far more authentic because it’s about being able to see it in front of you, not just about being told about it.

Brand storytelling

Photo courtesy Flickr/Sarah Gilbert aka CafeMama

Don’t get me wrong Five Guys likes to reaffirm to its customers how good it is, but it does so without showing its own ads to its own customers in its own restaurants. Instead, the chain’s restaurants have walls plastered with media cuttings of other people saying how marvellous the burgers are.

Provenance is not going away

Last November at Influence Live, Rob Robinson, co-founder of Notes, a coffee chain based in London, talked about the importance of provenance to consumers. His customers want to know where his coffee beans are grown and where are they roasted.

Fellow panellist, Kathryn Coury, marketing director for Brasserie Bar Co, agreed. She added that it wasn’t just consumers who consider themselves ‘foodies’ who were interested in the provenance of their dinners but was a general trend amongst the public.  And it’s not surprising when in the last three years alone we’ve several high-profile food manufacturing scandals (Findus and horsemeat, the listeria outbreak etc.)

Authentic storytelling

Organisations large and small can build provenance messages into their brand storytelling. We work with Matthews Cotswold Flour, a traditional, family-owned mill based in Shipton under Wychwood in Oxfordshire.

Brand storytelling

It specialises in premium organic, continental and speciality flours and uses Grade 1 grain, the highest available quality.  Importantly, the flour isn’t just milled in the Cotswolds but the company sources as much local grain as possible – but it does have to meet stringent quality tests.

Here the mill’s geographical location plays a central part to its brand storytelling – the packaging displays a picture of third generation mill owner, Paul Matthews; the blog, which has recently been rejuvenated, at the moment, is dominated with pictures of the local harvest.

Perhaps what is most powerful are the members of the public who share pictures of their bakes on social media using Matthews Cotswold Flour. They are praising its baking capabilities and its taste, attributed to something akin to the ‘terroir’ of the Cotswolds and the unique atmosphere at the mill.

Provenance is not just applicable to food brands either. Another client, Europe’s second-largest steel producer, Tata Steel, has dedicated web pages to its responsible sourcing of steel and tin to make its packaging steels, including the amount of steel recycled into new products.

These messages are filtered through its other marketing channels including staff Linkedin blogs, social media and regular columns in trade magazines, such as CanTech International.  For its target audience, in this case, canmakers, ethically sourced raw materials are incredibly important for creating metal packaging that’s part of a truly circular economy.  Once again provenance is taking centre stage.

Perils of inauthentic storytelling

What does this mean for KFC? Well, I felt that its full-page ad ‘Fck’ following the chicken supply blunder has been its most effective piece of brand storytelling this year.

KFC ad campaign using the right language for its customers

Here you felt like a real person was admitting the shortfalls – it was as Frank PR’s Andrew Bloch tweeted, “a masterclass in PR crisis management.” And it was warmly received by fans of the chicken bucket.

If brands treat provenance lightheartedly, reducing these serious messages to ad slogans and marketing puff, consumers remain simply unconvinced.

On the other hand, if treated with respect, care and embedded at the heart of brand storytelling it can be a powerful attraction to consumers and inspire fierce loyalty – just look at those Matthews Cotswold Flour bakers.  If you’d like some help getting to grips with your authentic provenance story, then get in touch –

Does Love Island show us the next phase of influencer marketing?



This week ITV and Media 10 joined forces to launch Love Island: Live at Excel London in August.  It will include a live stage show and offer visitors the chance to pose questions to the islanders, along with meet and greet opportunities – just a few days after the TV show ends. This is just the latest way in which fans can engage with the show.

It’s hard to escape the megalith of Love Island, in total it will last a whole two months, and it’s even crept into the tea break conversation in our Chipping Norton office.

I watched two episodes, predominantly out of curiosity, before deciding that it would just make me too disillusioned in life. (It is ultimately a show that encourages people to test their relationships by offering up readily available other options – let me say here, all Love Island opinions are definitely my own)

We might not be able to learn the secret to finding true love from the show, but perhaps it might show us the future of brand sponsorship and influencer marketing.

Love Island could make it onto the CIPR syllabus as a textbook communications case study – according to the press pack this new series has a record number of commercial partnerships.  It combines what we’d recognise as ‘traditional’ marketing techniques, such as product placement and brand sponsorship with unconventional tactics, such as its app.

For instance, it’s headline sponsor, Superdrug, has the immediate opening and closing slots of each ad break during the programme and viewers can see Islander’s using its own-label products, especially the sun cream, which they need copious amounts of.

The Love Island App – influencer marketing 2.0?

Love Island Missguided App

On the flip side, Love Island’s partnership with the clothing brand, Missguided, is more innovative. Each contestant is provided with a Missguided wardrobe. Everything from swimsuits, pyjamas to the going-out outfits (not that they actually ‘go out’, they get dressed up for the forced evening mingling in the villa). It’s a classic bit of product placement combined with influencer marketing.

I think we can all agree that each contender has the beginnings of an influencer career – just look at Jessica Rose from series three of the reboot, engaged to Dom Lever (another contestant – they actually met on the show) with 1.1 million Instagram followers.

But the interesting bit in this partnership between Missguided and Love Island is the combination of the clothing appearing in the show and the Love Island app. Here the sponsors are deliberately making use of the dual screening trend.

Viewers can only vote for their favourite couple through the app to stop them being dumped (literally, dumped from the show) rather than texting in or using a phone line, forcing people to download the app to their phones, if they wish to participate in show decisions.

So, whilst you watch Love Island, phone in hand, with the islanders in their colourful swimwear, programmers have given viewers the ability to directly shop the hopefuls’ outfits from Missguided. Each outfit is presented ready for purchase in-app.

In fact, the app has offered other sponsorship opportunities. Lucozade Zero’s Pink Lemonade sponsors the daily three-minute show preview which always plays on the app first before being uploaded to Youtube and other social sites.

There’s another blog post to write about the ethics of promoting a diet drink to viewers whilst watching a show filled with model contestants. But, even the Lucozade bottle’s packaging fits the pale pink and baby blue colour scheme of Love Island – it’s quite instagrammable.

Brand endorsement

Lastly, I have to mention the Ministry of Sound (MOS) partnership, where they teamed up with Love Island to release the official ‘Ministry of Sound & Love Island Present The Pool Party’ box set.  So now you can recreate the villa experience at home.

Halfway through the series, Ministry of Sound invited the islanders to the ‘Ministry of Sound Summer Party’ in the villa via a text on their Samsung Galaxy S9+, the show’s official handset provider. (The traditional form of communicating with contestants, like the bush telegraph in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, and islanders have no other connection with the outside world.)

Throughout the party there was an album cover branded DJ booth, Ministry of Sound branded cushions, pool floats, fans, sunglasses and balloons all around the villa. Plus, international DJ, Tom Zanetti, played an exclusive set for the islanders using tracks from the new album.  Cue much grinding and twerking.

Posts were made on Facebook during the live segment featuring the DJ party, again playing to the dual screening phenomenon. Let’s face it if you have the app, it’s likely you’ll also be following the show on social media, so even if you didn’t see the contextually placed advert of the album in the ad break, you’d later see the Facebook ad on your phone.

Reaching target audience

 For brands, Superdrug, Missguided, Lucozade and Ministry of Sound, partnering with Love Island is bang on the money, as they want to reach their target demographic, 16 – 24 year olds. It is as the ITV Media website says ‘becoming the place’ for this age bracket.

It’s true that fans that watch the show are maybe more engaged than other traditional reality TV show audiences. People who watch Britain’s Got Talent can select their own gold buzzer in-app and tweet opinions with the hashtag, but they don’t have so many ways to really get as involved in the show.

There’s also an official Love Island podcast, ‘Love Island – The morning after’, sponsored by Kellogg’s Corn Flakes (which is available in-app); you could enjoy an Echo Fall’s co-branded bottle of rose; or purchase official merchandise through Primark; or lastly the Rimmel transfer tattoos featured in the show in Superdrug.

But the Love Island millennial audience, those that have grown up in an internet age, are used to dual screening and watch TV when it suits them (i.e. through on-demand services) and do ‘go in for it more’.  There is a demand for the matching personalised Love Island drinks bottles which you can buy online from the official website at £15 a go (and there are a plethora of knock-off versions too.)

Doing a quick poll, amongst our two female staff members (both within the target age demographic), both had nearly succumbed to purchasing items in-app from Missguided. Both felt that it was partially the clever linkage, the outfits being displayed in real time, combined with the convenience of being able to purchase the item right there, that led to an increased engagement on their parts.

So, I think, if we’ve learnt one thing from Love Island. It’s that we can expect to see a lot more TV influencer marketing which abuses our love-hate relationships with our phones and the accompanying apps.

If you want some of the influencer marketing action, without burning through your budget, then you drop me an email –

Photo credits: Love Island, ITV2