In a December post from Bailey Gardiner entitled What New PR Pros Need to Know, it mentioned that new PR pros should embrace math and stop the age old remark of “I majored in communication because I hate math.” Let’s face the facts—we’re not accountants or statisticians. We’re not going to use upper-level mathematics, but we must ask ourselves, is this saying even relevant in today’s world of ROI and measurement tactics?
Maybe I’m just weird, but I love numbers. I personally liked math because I knew that there was only one correct answer and finding out how to obtain the answer was the challenge. Many colleges and universities are requiring communication majors to take upper-level calculus and statistics courses in order to enter into the various communications programs. The reasoning? Communications and especially PR are evolving fields and the corporate world is requiring knowledge of data analysis.
PR’s main objective is to establish and maintain relationships with various publics, maximize resources and demonstrate value. So how exactly are we supposed to measure that? PR is more than just collecting press clippings and handing a number to clients. The steady transition of social media channels into public relations efforts requires the knowledge of social media measurement.
Here is how math plays a large part in the PR industry…
Measurement and ROI
Client demand for measurement of online communications has increased in the last few years, and thus, a variety of tools are now available for to help PR pros track and collect a variety of information and statistics:
- Google Analytics - This free tool can help you track web traffic, traffic sources and keyword statistics. This is crucial to your understanding of what is and what is not working online.
- Google Alerts – Simply put, Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (news, blogs, videos and online discussions) based on your choice of query or topic. For more information on how to use Google Alerts, be sure to check out a recent blog post Nicole wrote on the topic.
- Social Mention – This social media search and analysis platform aggregates user generated content from across the universe into a single stream of information. Social Mention monitors 100+ social media properties directly including Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google, etc. It also allows you to set up alerts — think Google Alerts only more social!
And of course many others! PR pros all have their favorite tools; it’s really up to you to decide what information proves to be most helpful.
Once you gather the information you need, here are some measurable tactics that you can use with any PR effort:
- % positive impressions versus negative – These are the number of people who may have seen an article, heard something on the radio or in a podcast, watched something on television or read something on a webpage or blog
- Number of retweets, comments on a blog post, comments on a forum post
- Number of unique and reprinted articles and those impressions – Did people take the time to find an angle in the press release and write about it or did they copy it?
- Increased awareness – % increase in daily volume – How many people actually viewed this?
- % increase in traffic to site
- % of increased number of blog posts on web
- Increased mentions on Google – increased SEO – the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the natural search results.
- The distribution of materials across various social networks over time
- Quickness of message spread
PR has become not only more tech savvy, but more metric savvy in the last 5 years, and it’ll be interesting to see what new changes occur in the field in the future.
With so many processes of measuring PR efforts, can you still say “I’m in communication because I hate math”?
[Image from doviende. Used under Creative Commons.]