Today brands have a plethora of tools available giving them ample opportunity to reach consumers in new and imaginative ways. But with that comes significant challenges –cutting through the noise, appearing authentic, and proving return on investment as budgets across the board come under increasing scrutiny.
For corporate communications teams, those challenges are particularly acute going in to 2019, when industry-recognised measurement is waning. Gone are the days of appreciating advertising value equivalent (AVE) figures, and often without a clear line into sales and conversions, putting a value on the return on investment of a PR campaign is becoming harder than ever.
Furthermore, the consumer landscape is evolving with the increase of channels and platforms that brands are using to communicate. This year, our 2018 DIMENSION report showed that 64% of connected consumers consider every message published by a brand, including PR, to be advertising. What does that mean for the PR industry and how can communications teams continue to prove their worth?
If all brand messages are seen as coming from the advertiser, then an integrated communications strategy for marketing communications teams is more important than ever. By collaborating to create impactful integrated campaigns and using reliable metrics every step of the way, reporting back to board level on return on investment needs to be thorough and all-inclusive.
Earned media has a strong role to play, with our DIMENSION report also revealing that consumers routinely turn to an average of three communication channels from which to gather information. The ‘it’s all advertising’ attitude amongst consumers means that brands must continue to invest in managing and maintaining their relationships with journalists, influencers and other content providers that deliver messages away from the brand’s direct control.
At the heart of it, the challenge for the PR industry is to focus on outcomes rather than outputs. The differentiator when it comes to really showing the value of earned media is the ability to demonstrate the influence of the outcomes against core business performance and objectives, which is much easier to do when aligned with a larger campaign which has reliable measurement in place.
Measuring PR success by a set of uniform metrics based on the outcomes of communications activity will see the sector increasingly more strategically aligned with marketing and advertising. PR professionals, just like their advertising counterparts, need to use data-led insights to develop a thorough understanding of their target audiences to ensure earned media content is meaningful and successful.
Ultimately, 2019 is about bringing PR into the full marketing communications mix and measuring its value in integrated campaigns.
This piece originally appeared on PRCA.org.uk. Read here.