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

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!  


Four ways to communicate pro-environmental actions


#CIPRClimateComms – Sustainability needs more than lip-service

“Saving the planet is now a communications challenge” from David Attenborough is one of my favourite quotes, in fact it’s already inspired a number of blog posts from the Twelve PR team and we picked the quote to represent June on our anniversary desk calendar.

It is obviously a quote that resonates with many as it was also chosen by CIPR to inspire their climate change conference last month – full title ‘Climate Change and the Role of PR: Why communication is key’.

Over the half day, speakers looked at the real challenge we have on our hands when it comes to climate change, sustainability and saving our planet whilst looking at ways we as an industry can better understand the issues surrounding global warming and transition to Net Zero.

Speakers also covered how PRs can support clients and employers in their journey to become more sustainable. For some of the top insights, I’d highly recommend checking out the #CIPRClimateComms hashtag on Twitter.

For me the discussion between Sian Conway-Wood of #EthicalHour, CommsHero’s Asif Choudry and PersonaR & WhiteElephantDigital’s Andras Sztaniszlav resonated the most as they discussed ‘greenwashing’. This is the process of conveying misleading information about how a company’s products or practices are more environmentally sound when the claims are largely unsubstantiated.

‘‘We’re all being greenwashed from all angles. There are companies that are doing this intentionally, and the small businesses that just don’t know any better. But we can be the gatekeepers,” commented Sian Conway-Wood.

Greenwashing is nothing but detrimental

Greenwashing can be deeply confusing for consumers who are genuinely looking to switch to products with a greater eco-focus. Once it’s realised that green claims are false, motivation to live more sustainably is damaged.

The panel’s main thrust was that as PRs we play an important role in ensuring the sustainability messages we communicate on behalf of our clients are genuine.

At Twelve, I’m proud to work with clients where authenticity is a central component of their business practices; sustainability is a conscious choice and our communications programmes don’t just pay lip service.

For example, we support the packaging division at Tata Steel, a world leader in sustainable steelmaking and one of the largest steel producers in Europe.  In its 2020 Sustainability Report, the steel producer laid out its commitment to carbon-neutral steelmaking by 2050. It is investing in breakthrough technologies including carbon capture, using hydrogen and HIsarna – a radical new technology for making iron which has been in development since 2011.

By 2033, Tata Steel’s ambition is to have HIsarna working at full scale and ready to replace one of the blast furnaces, the traditional method for making steel. HIsarna can cut up to 100 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions, when combined with carbon capture.

Similarly, client Altelium is at the forefront of insurtech solutions in the green energy market. Using real-time information about battery state-of-health combined with AI technology, it supports customers who need to make investment or operational decisions about electric vehicle batteries in first and second life situations.

How we should be communicating pro-environmental actions

At the end, when I look at my notes from the #CIPRClimateComms conference, I came away with four key learnings; four ways to communicate pro-environmental actions:

  1. Concentrate on providing the solution or action

I wrote a previous piece for the Twelve PR blog about the importance of behaviour change and how by providing straightforward advice, people feel empowered.

  1. Positive message and highlight the benefits

By showcasing the positive message, it reinforces motivation. My favourite mantra is ‘small action, big impact’.  This phrase was used by previous client Cawleys Waste Management to encourage its clients to embrace easy recycling at work such as separating paper from food waste to improve resource recovery.

Similarly, often people won’t take action if they don’t think their actions will have any personal benefits – not everyone is motivated by saving the planet, although personally, I think they should be.

Veganism is a great case study. Sarah Pascoe, comedian, is quoted as saying on social media: “I decided that I was going to do 100 days being vegan, and I was going to write it up and see how I felt. But within a week, I felt so much better in my body, that it became ‘oh I am definitely going to do this forever.’ My digestion immediately improved”…

  1. Peer pressure

There’s nothing like a spot of peer pressure to encourage others to adopt sustainable practices. In a survey we conducted for Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association between parents and children on recycling attitudes, 41 per cent of parents said they believe it was their children who drove recycling and a further 43 per cent had faced a telling off from their offspring – an average of three times a week! – for not making more effort with recycling.

  1. Relatable messengers

I spotted this in a write-up from Sustainable Sidekicks, choosing a messenger that people can relate to or trust is crucial. Our June cover star, David Attenborough, is perfect example and his Blue Planet series shows how the right messenger can galvanise a worldwide audience.

If you would like help conveying your pro-environmental messages, get in touch –