It's notoriously hard to quantify the success of a PR campaign, but there are a number of tried and tested ways of doing it.

Advertising value equivalent (AVE) is a bit of an old chestnut, but some people still swear by it. Basically, AVE focuses on how much PR-generated media coverage would cost if it was paid-for advertising. People apply all sorts of multiples and complicated formulae to get round the simple fact that comparing costs of advertising space with editorial coverage is faintly ridiculous.

Others, again perfectly reasonably, want to measure their investment in PR on the amount of media coverage achieved in specific publications. What’s wrong with that? I hear you say. Money in, coverage out. Simple. Yes, but without wishing to get too philosophical here, what’s the point of PR? The objective of all PR is to change attitudes and behaviour of specific audiences over time. Media coverage, in itself, is simply a means to an end. If it had no impact on the people you are really trying to reach, then it is literally worthless. So, measuring coverage, on its own, is not really the safest way of assessing the value of your PR.

The other small problem is the fact that the whole world has gone digital. The media is now an intricate web of traditional outlets (print, radio and TV) and social media. It’s dynamic and totally searchable in a way that was unthinkable just a few years ago. Measuring bits of mainstream coverage as a way of assessing PR value rather misses the point.

At Aspectus, we believe measurement is a crucial element of the whole relationship between clients and agencies and that we must be able to demonstrate a return on investment which is transparent, robust and simple.

This is the thinking behind our Search Integrated Communications Model (SINCOM) through which we can mesh together key messages, communications content, clients’ websites and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

Through SINCOM, we are able to drive high quality traffic to a client’s website. These are people who will have come to the client via a highly specific search term. In other words, they will have formed a connection with one of the client’s key messages and be highly motivated to develop a sales conversation.

Throughout our campaigns we track this traffic inflow, check the numbers, analyse the visitors’ behaviour and see how they engage. This enables us to fine tune our communications continuously to maximise the amount and quality of this engagement.

For decades communications agencies have struggled with the thorny issues of measurement. One of the great benefits of the integration of content, media and search in this digital age is that it has thrown up unimpeachable measures of return on investment such as Aspectus’s SINCOM.

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