Blog written by Josh Culver

Recently I read a very interesting blog posting about the effectiveness of the current system of measuring the success of a PR campaign. In this article, the second on the subject, (and according to Francis the author, more to come) the author believes that finding the number of impressions is an inaccurate way to measure successful PR, showing two different examples from personal experiences.

In example A, a client embarked on a PR campaign and was very happy with the many different stories placed and the number of impressions. What disappointed the company was how little change they saw in actual sales. In example B, the same company was highlighting a new product that was very much the one used in example A, it was a free, downloadable improvement on an existing product, but with one large difference. As it turned out, one of the visitors to the site was the largest software company in the world and thought the product was so fantastic, bought out the company, resulting in a HUGE return on investment. 

I agree with Francis, on many points in the article, namely the need to tweak monitoring the changing and emerging media to show clients how effective a PR firm can be, I am left scratching my head with this particular case of cause and effect. While the story is a great anecdote and even better sales pitch, I’m not sure it is the best example of successful PR. Yes, it was the PR company’s job to get more exposure and make the tech company more money, which Francis was successful on both counts, but I don’t think it really gets to the heart of the matter in terms of better measurement. Getting a company noticed by a larger one and then counting it a success when a buy-out happens doesn’t seem like the goal of every PR company.

Francis does make some good points and although I disagree with his final results I do believe he is on to something and at the heart of the matter, asking the right questions. Obviously, I don’t have a clear answer, but appreciate the fact that his work brings into focus on the right track a difficult beast to tame. Maybe with more discussion and work like this, all of us in the industry can show the importance of PR.