Every year, organizations across the world spend more than US$14 billion dollars on their public relations efforts, and that figure is set to grow to US$19.3 billion by 2020. Yet, how much of this activity is delivering value and if asked, can we provide proof?
Faced with tight economic conditions and potential budget cutbacks, communicators are under increasing pressure to demonstrate business results and are looking to harness new tools to assist them.
According to the USC Annenberg Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center’s Generally Accepted Practices Study (GAP VIII) (2014), “there is a lack of faith in current tools and a need for new tools that do a better job of measuring actual outcomes and actions, rather than outputs.” In the companies surveyed, the study found that:
- 49 percent use measurement techniques developed in-house.
- 26 percent use techniques recommended by professional/industry groups.
- 20 percent use proprietary methods developed by their outside agencies.
- 22 percent are making increasing use of audience research in planning and evaluating campaigns.
- 31 percent are measuring online conversations.
Interestingly, as in all seven previous GAP studies, no single measurement tool earned a usage score significantly greater than five on a scale of 1 (no usage) to 7 (extensive usage), suggesting a lack of faith in currently available tools, and a need for new tools that do a better job of measuring actual outcomes and actions, rather than outputs.
The five most commonly used measurement tools used by practitioners were:
- Influence on reputation (5.01)
- Social or online media metrics (4.87)
- Content analysis of clips (4.65)
- Total number of clips (4.35)
- Total impressions (4.3).